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  • Writer's pictureEast Yorkshire Eye Surgery

Cosmetic Contact Lenses - Look after those spooky eyeballs this Halloween!!!

With Autumn upon us and Halloween lurking just around the corner, some of you may have already been planning your outfits, but have you ever considered using cosmetic contact lenses to complete your look?

You may have seen some celebrities on the television wearing cosmetic contact lenses, for example on programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing, to darken their eyes or change their eye colour. They can look really effective, but there is always a risk with putting any sort of contact lenses in your eyes, particularly if you are not used to using them, and much more so if you have not been prescribed them or purchased them from a reputable optician or medical practitioner.

In 2018 I had the opportunity to do a television interview for BBC Look North for East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, publicising the importance of avoiding cosmetic contact lenses. This issue has always been something I feel strongly about, having treated patients with serious eye problems as a result of using them, and I was keen to educate the public about them, particularly as it is very easy to purchase novelty cosmetic contact lenses online through various unregulated websites. These types of lenses are often not made from medical grade materials and are sold unethically as “costume wear”. I still see cases of eye infections and trauma from the use of cosmetic contact lenses and I am still keen to get the message out there.

Why can cosmetic contact lenses cause problems?

The eye problems incurred as a result of cosmetic contact lenses use can be as a result of poor user hygiene, for example not washing hands before administering, using contaminated lenses or leaving lenses in the eye too long. Eye problems can also occur as a result of damage to the eye incurred by the lenses themselves, such as an immune reaction to the materials used, or physical damage to the eye such as scratches which can predispose to bacterial infection. In severe cases a protazoan infection called Acanthamoeba Keratitis can develop, which can be very difficult to treat and can result in visual loss, and in some cases loss of the eye itself, as can severe bacterial infections such as those caused by Pseudomonas.

These risks can be reduced by using approved cosmetic contact lenses from reputable companies, such as those used by the Strictly Come Dancing professionals.

Symptoms of cosmetic contact lenses use

Some side effects of cosmetic contact lenses to look out for include sore, irritated or dry eyes, a watery discharge, a foreign body sensation, blurred vision, light sensitivity, a red or painful eye. If you develop any of these symptoms you should remove the lenses straight away. If these symptoms do not resolve within 24 hours you must seek specialist advice, from an optician or doctor.

Tips for looking after those eyeballs

Despite it nearly being Halloween, my intention is not to scare readers with this blog post, but simply to inform you to help you to make the decision about whether cosmetic contact lenses are for you. If you do go ahead with using cosmetic contact lenses, make sure you purchase them from a reliable source, ideally from an optician who can fit them properly.

Make sure to follow the instructions. Do not re use or share lenses, do not leave in longer than advised and if they start to cause problems take them out quickly and dispose of them, and seek advice promptly if you develop eye symptoms.

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