(Medical Xpress) -- Some people think its cool to give themselves cat eyes, wolf eyes or really bloodshot eyes for Halloween. Thats possible with decorative contact lenses, but an optometrist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis says beware.
Decorative contact lenses also known as fashion, color, cosmetic or theatre contact lenses change the look of the eyes, but they dont correct vision. If used incorrectly, the lenses can impair vision and damage the eyes warns Mary K. Migneco, OD, instructor in ophthalmology and visual sciences.
Decorative lenses can be worn safely, and they can enhance your Halloween costume, but if they dont fit properly, or youre not a suitable candidate for contact lenses, youre asking for trouble, she says.
People can buy the lenses at costume shops, beauty salons and from other vendors who are not qualified to sell medical devices such as contact lenses. She recommends such lenses be purchased only from a qualified health professional.
Costume shop Halloween contact lenses come only as one-size-fits-all, she says. But one size does not fit all. You can only determine proper fit with an eye exam.
Any contact lenses can cause serious eye damage if used incorrectly. If the lenses dont fit properly or the individual wearing them has very dry eyes, that person will be at risk for scratches on the surface of the eye, known as corneal abrasions. Allergic reactions to the lenses also are common, as are diminished vision and infections.
Any sort of wound on the eye can provide an opening for bacteria, she explains. That can lead to scarring of the eye. And if the scarring is permanent, a person can suffer vision loss.
Scratches on the cornea also are extremely painful.
On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most painful, patients often rate a corneal abrasion as a 10, she says.
To reduce risk of eye injury, Migneco says its important to get contact lenses from an eye care professional. Follow instructions about cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses, and never borrow lenses from a friend, even for only one night.