Halloween is a fun time for “kids” of all ages to dress up for the annual “Trick Or Treat” evening. Halloween contact lenses might look freaky, but it turns out the accessory is scary because they might be causing real damage to people’s eyes. Decorative contact lenses (sometimes called “fashion,” “costume,” “cosmetic” or “coloured” contact lenses) don’t correct vision; they change how eyes look. They are typically sold at costume and novelty shops, at cosmetic retailers and online.
In the United Kingdom, the government started issuing warnings after a 16-year old girl lost partial sight in one eye after wearing the lenses as part of her zombie outfit back in 2015. The warning is against using decorative lenses as part of Halloween costumes as they could cause blindness, eye scratches, infections and other eye problems. In the USA, it is the FDA that issues warnings about the decorative contact lenses. Health Canada usually issues a warning in early October as consumers start to plan and buy costumes and accessories.
Advice when using decorative contact lenses The FDA advises instead asking a doctor or an optician for a prescription for decorative lenses rather than buying them over the counter or online, making sure a proper eye exam is given to ensure they fit correctly. The lenses must be kept clean properly, not using saliva to clean them or tap water. Lenses should not be shared either, or used after a long period of storing. If there is any soreness or redness while using decorative lenses they should be removed and it might be worth consulting a doctor.
HEALTH CANADA WARNING
Health Canada began regulating these products as medical devices in 2016. This means that they must be licensed by Health Canada before they can be sold. Selling unlicensed health products in Canada is illegal.
Decorative contact lenses licensed by Health Canada are assessed for safety, effectiveness and quality. Using unlicensed decorative contact lenses could pose a risk to your health. As of October 2018, the following companies manufacture decorative contact lenses that are licensed by Health Canada:
Alcon Laboratories Inc.Bausch & Lomb Inc.Ciba Vision CorporationCoopervision Inc.Geo Medical Co., LtdJohnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.Les Lesieur Enterprises Inc.Neo Vision Co. Ltd.Unicon Optical Co., Ltd.
While Health Canada has licensed these lenses and set a standard of quality, this does not make them safe on their own. All contact lenses need to be fitted and monitored. All lenses don’t fit all eyes.
The licence status of products changes frequently. Consumers can search the online Medical Devices Active Licence Listing database to verify whether their decorative contact lenses are licensed by using the product name or company shown on the packaging, or by calling Health Canada at 1-800-267-9675.
Ontario’s Opticians are on the Frontline of Vision Care and urge you to protect your eyes this Halloween season and all other times.