Dr. Stewart Shofner Shares New Research on the Dangers of Wearing Cosmetic Contact Lenses
As we approach the end of October, we also enter the time for Halloween festivities where many people dress up in costumes to disguise their appearance. Dr. Stewart Shofner of Shofner Vision Center shares a frightening new study that reports harmful chemicals were found in over-the-counter cosmetic contact lenses.
Recently, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) urged costume shoppers to stay away from non-prescription lenses after a new study found chlorine and metal during product testing. According to research published in September by Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice, chlorine was detected in three types of non-prescription costume contact lenses and iron was found on four pairs of lenses. One pair seeped chlorine after a routine rinse, prompting concern from researchers about toxicity to the eye.
The study also indicates the chemicals may come from colorants used to tint and create playful patterns on the lenses. Not all of the lenses in the study are available in the U.S., as they are not FDA approved, but it's very simple to purchase cosmetic lenses online that are from an unknown origin.
"Basically, everyone is at risk who wears contact lenses, however wearing non-prescription lenses will increase one's risk of developing an eye infection or cause irreversible eye damage," says Dr. Shofner.
Dr. Shofner shares the top reasons why wearing non-prescription cosmetic contact lenses may cause eye damage.
1. Scratches. The study noted that colorants printed or pressed onto some decorative lenses create an uneven texture. Those rough surfaces could scratch the eyes, potentially allowing in bacteria that can cause infection and even blindness.
2. Ulcers. Costume contact lenses can literally create an eye sore called a corneal ulcer, with symptoms similar to corneal abrasions. The ulcers sometimes appear as a white dot on the iris and may require treatment with medicated eye drops. When the ulcers heal, they can scar over and permanently and adversely affect vision.
3. Infections. Both corneal abrasions and ulcers create openings in the eye, making them more vulnerable to bacteria, viruses and amoebas. All of these organisms can cause serious eye infections known as keratitis. A 2011 study found that wearing cosmetic contact lenses increased the risk of keratitis by more than 16 times.
4. Blindness. In the most extreme cases, complications from wearing costume contact lenses may end in blindness or require surgery. For instance, extensive scarring from an infection can distort the cornea or make it opaque, requiring a corneal transplant to restore vision.
"Putting a foreign body (contact lens) in the eye using fingers is scary and potentially harmful," says Dr. Shofner. It's important to only buy FDA-approved lenses that are prescribed by an ophthalmologist or optometrist. For those that want to wear contact lenses, it's imperative to schedule a comprehensive eye exam so that the lenses are fitted properly to avoid risk of damaging the eye.
About Shofner Vision Center
Shofner Vision Center is comprised of two stellar doctors and a dedicated staff of professionals that strive to offer patients the best experience possible. Dr. Stewart Shofner, one of the most prominent eye surgeons in the country, has performed more than 30,000 LASIK vision correction surgeries and 10,000 ocular surgeries in Middle Tennessee. Dr. Shofner specializes in cataract vision correction and LASIK vision correction surgery, eye disease diagnosis and treatment.
Eye Specialist, Dr. Kevin Johnson of Shofner Vision Center is a well-respected expert in contact lens fitting and prescription glasses. Dr. Johnson is also Therapeutics Board Certified to treat and manage ocular diseases. He also received U.S. Air Force F-16 "Top Eye" flight certification and member of the LASIK evaluation team. Contact Shofner Vision Center to schedule a comprehensive eye exam.