(HALIFAX – Oct. 25, 2018) With Halloween approaching, many people consider changing their appearance with decorative contact lenses to look like a vampire, a zombie or a cat – but the damage those lenses can do to your eyes is much scarier.
CNIB is warning people that decorative contact lenses could haunt you for the rest of your life, if you don't consult an eye care professional.
"Wearing contact lenses of any kind can cause serious damage to your eyes if the lenses are obtained without a prescription or not used correctly," says Rhiannon Verran, Low Vision Specialist with Vision Loss Rehabilitation Nova Scotia, a CNIB organization. "People should know the risks to reduce the possibility of harming their eyes."
These risks include a corneal abrasion (a cut or scratch on the top layer of the eyeball), allergic reactions such as itchy, watery red eyes, decreased vision, infection, or blindness.
When wearing any type of contact lenses, people should know the signs of possible eye infection, which include redness, pain in the eye(s) that doesn't go away after a short period of time, and decreased vision.
"If you have any of these signs, you need to see an eye care professional – an optometrist or ophthalmologist – right away," says Ms. Verran. "An eye infection could become serious and cause you to become blind if it is not treated."
CNIB advises to avoid some of these risks by getting contact lenses from your eye care professional, and to follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.
The DOs and DON'Ts of decorative contact lenses
DO get an eye exam! Your optometrist will examine your eyes to make sure the contact lenses fit properly, which is very important as the wrong fit can damage your eyes.
DO get a prescription! Your optometrist will write you a prescription for contact lenses, including decorative lenses. The prescription should include the brand name, correct lens measurements and expiration date.
DO follow the contact lens care instructions! Follow the instructions for wearing, cleaning and disinfecting your contact lenses that come with your contact lenses. If you do not receive instructions, ask your optometrist for them.
DO seek medical attention right away and remove your contact lenses if your eyes are red, have ongoing pain or discharge! Redness, pain and discharge from the eyes are signs of an eye infection. If you think you may have an eye infection from your contact lenses, remove them and see an eye care professional right away.
DON'T share your contact lenses with anyone else! Everyone's eyes are not the same size and shape; your contact lenses are fitted just for you.
DON'T buy any contact lenses without a prescription! If you don't see an eye care professional and get a prescription, then the contact lenses you get may not fit properly and may not work well. They could even damage your eyes.