woman applying a contact lens

The effect of decorative contacts can be frightful…for your eye health

Halloween is fast approaching, everyone is getting their costumes ready, the hair, the make up and the accessories – including contacts. Coloured contacts are very popular around this time of year as they give people a chance to change the colour of their eyes and become a completely different person and enhance their costumes.

But did you know that decorative contacts can be frightfully damaging to your eyes? The lasting affects will haunt you.

As you are able to buy these contacts without prescriptions, it is typical to think that they can’t be that harmful if you can buy them over the counter or online…but that’s not the case.

If the retailer doesn’t ask for a prescription – STAY AWAY. Even if you think that your vision is perfect and you have never had to wear contacts or glasses previously it is still crucial that you have an eye examination to make sure that you are purchasing the correct type of lens to avoid lasting damage. This type of damage can include:

  • Corneal ulcers
  • Corneal abrasion
  • Vision impairment
  • Blindness

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These are just a few. The effects can range from mild irritation to a severe eye infection that can lead to the loss of your vision.

Take Laura Butler for example. Laura spent a simple $30 on her contacts, bargain right? Wrong.

Laura ended up spending $2000 on medical bills because of the contacts. She had purchased them from a beach shop without solution or instructions and still went ahead and popped them in. Hours later she was in excruciating pain and was unable to remove them from her eyes for 20 minutes as they had become stuck. When she went to the doctors, she was told that the damage was similar to sandpaper being rubbed on her cornea and that she could lose her eyesight or maybe even her eye. She had to be treated for 7 weeks and had a drooping eye lid for several of those weeks. Up until now, her vision has not recovered to the state it had been previously.

The production of contact lenses in the UK is not regulated by UK law meaning that there is a higher risk of damaging your eyes. Low quality contacts can sometimes contact heavy toxins such as mercury and lead which can seep into the wearer’s eye and then into the nervous system, which could end up being fatal. When inserting contact lenses, the cornea is most vulnerable to damage. The cornea is a sensitive tissue in the eye that can be easily damaged by inexperienced contact wearers. Damage such as a tear can lead to a bacterial infection such as Acanthamoeba Keratitus in the eye.

Here’s some tips if you are going to wear coloured contacts:

  • Have an eye exam. This will allow an ophthalmologist to measure your eye and give you recommendations on how to look after it during and after contact wear
  • Avoid buying contacts without prescriptions. Make sure that when you purchase a pair, it has a brand name, measurements, an expiry date and instructions
  • Follow the lens care guide step by step including instructions on how to wear, disinfect and clean
  • Purchase contacts for yourself and yourself only. Sharing contacts increases the risk of bacteria which will affect you and the person you shared the contacts with
  • Avoid wearing them for long hours
  • Book a follow up appointment. Once all the fun and games have ended and it’s time to put Dracula’s cape away, be sure to book an appointment to see your ophthalmologist to make sure there is no damage

By making sure you get your contacts fitted properly, you’re guaranteed to have a night of trick or treat fun, not a trip to your local A&E.

About Our London Eye Clinic Experts

Meet the My-iClinic founders, Mr John Bolger and Ms Bola Odufuwa. Two consultant eye surgeons who made it their life goal to make your life better.

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Bola Odufuwa-Bolger

Consultant Ophthalmologist
Clinic Director

Bola Odufuwa is a consultant ophthalmologist at The Royal Free Hospital and My-iClinic. Her specialities include cataract, glaucoma, paediatric, and laser refractive surgery. Bola has had extensive training at Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, where she gained expertise in the management of various eye conditions.

Bola Odufuwa’s special interests include optimal refractive outcomes following cataract surgery, non-penetrating glaucoma surgery, and assessment eyesight in children with special needs: particularly dyslexia and autism.

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Mr John Bolger

Consultant Ophthalmologist
Clinic Director

John Bolger is a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Clinic Director at My-iClinic. His specialities include ophthalmology, laser refractive surgery (SMILE, Presbyond, LASIK, PRK, PTK), refractive lens exchange (RLE), cataract surgery, glaucoma treatment and macular degeneration.

Over the course of his career, John Bolger has carried out over 35,000 cataract operations, 20 of which were for eye surgeons. He has also taught over 1500 young ophthalmologists worldwide as they begin their surgical careers.