Eye experts warn against use of cosmetic contact lenses this Halloween

Maurice Garvey

EYE experts have issued a public warning about the use of cosmetic contact lenses, which they say can damage the eyes and in extreme cases, cause blindness. 

The Association of Optometrists has identified a growing popularity in recent years of cosmetic or ‘fun’ contact lenses bought online or from pop up costume shops, particularly at Halloween.

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AOI Optometric Advisor Lynda McGivney Nolan said complications arising from contact lens wear can result in devastating consequences with the potential to cause permanent vision loss.

“Studies investigating the reasons for the increased risk of complications with these lenses has showed two important things,” said Ms McGivney Nolan.

“Firstly, cosmetic contact lenses are more difficult to clean and sterilise because of the materials they are made of and the pigments which colour them. 

"This makes microbial adherence much stronger. 

“The second major risk is that the lenses are not fitted by a registered practitioner, so adherence to safe insertion and removal are often not practiced – resulting in a very high level of complications."

 The AOI is calling on schools and parents to warn children and young adults about the dangers of wearing these products.

“Not only is it dangerous, but it is illegal and evidence of shops supplying these lenses should be reported to the State health and social care regulator CORU,” said Ms McGivney Nolan.

In Ireland, contact lenses are regulated and may only be fitted and supplied by a qualified, regulated professional such as an optometrist.

A 2017 study in the US Journal of Forensic Science showed that the quality of contact lenses sold without prescription was very poor with microbes living on 60 per cent on counterfeit lenses and 48 per cent of noncorrective (decorative) lenses when they came out of the packet.

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