In the lead up to Halloween non-prescription contact lenses, also known as cosmetic contact lenses, novelty lenses or fashion lenses, have become an increasingly popular accessory for party goers. Being both affordable and easily accessible (online and over the counter), the safety risks involved in using non-prescription contact lenses are often overlooked or ignored completely.

Optometry Australia outlines the harms involved in using novelty lenses without professional consultation, stating that when used incorrectly they pose a serious risk and may lead to “significant, long-term eye damage”. With the surface of the eye being extremely delicate and susceptible bacteria, non-prescription lenses can lead to a variety of complications ranging from mild eye infections to more severe cases such as corneal scarring and even permanent blindness.

Luke Arundel, resident optometrist at Optometry Australia, advises consumers that if they are going to use novelty contact lenses, it is important to make sure that they are prescribed by an optometrist who will be able to instruct them on the “appropriate insertion and removal techniques and correct contact lens care to minimise the risk of irreversible eye damage”.

Here at Hunter Laser Vision we have put together a safety checklist so that if and when you decide to use novelty contact lenses, you have all the information to do so in the safest way possible:

  • First and foremost, have your eyes examined by an optometrist to determine whether novelty lenses are suitable for your eyes and detect any pre-existing conditions you may have that could increase the likelihood of damaging your eyes
  • If you have been given the all clear, be sure to get an optometrist to prescribe you with contact lenses. The optometrist will ensure that the lenses not only suitable for your eyes but that you know how to properly insert, remove and clean them (reducing the potential risk of damage and infection)
  • Always wash your hands before handling your contact lenses and never store or clean them in tap water
  • Never share your contact lenses with other people as this poses a high risk of infection
  • Do not sleep with contact lenses in unless you have been ensured it is safe to do so by your optometrist
  • If your eyes become red, sensitive to light, painful, infected or your vision becomes impaired remove the lenses and seek medical attention immediately

Remember that no costume is worth putting your health (or eyesight) at risk. Always get a prescription, follow the care and maintenance instructions provided and have fun!