Late October for many includes celebrating Halloween with trick or treating or attending costume parties. While these late fall festivities can be fun, they can also be dangerous to your eyes. Every year several hundred trips are made to the ER for eye-related injuries stemming from Halloween costumes, masks and makeup. Some may choose to transform their eyes with novelty contact lenses. And while it may seem like good Halloween fun, improper use of contact lenses can be very dangerous to your vision.
According to Prevent Blindness, more than 80 percent of contact lens wearers are at risk for an eye infection from unsafe use. The CDC reports serious eye infections that can lead to blindness affect up to 1 out of every 500 contact lens users per year. We have listed the top five most frightening stories reported from contact lens use.
- Cat Eye Lenses Destroys Cornea – Carrie-Anne Balloch was so excited after purchasing "cat's eye" contact lenses for her Halloween costume. Shortly after putting them in, she felt like her eyes were literally being scraped. She could hardly see because her eyes were streaming tears. She thought maybe she just had to get used to them. She took them out two hours later. But even the next morning her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. A doctor prescribed eye drops. Her eyes eventually returned to normal, but it took two weeks of using the drops and sleeping with a wet towel over her eyes.
- Contact Lens Fungus Bursts Eye - After wearing disposable contacts for just a day, Jacqueline Stone's vision became blurred. Her eye doctor gave her eye drops to treat the pain, but two days later she was still in pain. A blister then formed and covered her eye. It eventually burst and in the process split her eye. A month later she was diagnosed with a fungal eye infection caused by the Fusarium fungus.
- Costume Lens Rips Out Cornea - A teenager was left partially blind in 2015 after wearing Halloween contacts as part of her costume. Seventeen-year-old Leah Carpenter wore creepy zombie contacts to complete her scary look, but woke up the next morning with a red, swollen eye. After visiting the doctor, she found out that the contacts had ripped off the top layer of her cornea. Thanks to the ordeal, the high school senior missed homecoming and a ton of school, and may never get her vision back to where it was.
- Swimming in Contacts Led to Blindness - Jennie Hurst knew that she had to practice good hygiene practices with her contact lenses. The one thing she didn’t know? That you shouldn't swim with them. After doing just a few laps in a hotel pool while wearing her lenses, Hurst started experiencing extreme sensitivity to light and pain so bad she had to go to the hospital. The problem turned out to be acanthamoeba keratitis, which is caused by an amoeba found in almost all soil, fresh water, and sea water. Hurst has undergone numerous operations and still has not regained complete ability to see.
- Surgeon Discovers Over 25 Lenses in One Eye - As reported in the British Medical Journal, the unnamed patient was unaware that the contact lenses were missing. Incredibly, the 27 lost lenses, which had drifted behind her upper eyelid, weren’t causing her any serious distress. She figured her dry eyes and periodic discomfort were just a product of old age.
Did you know that approximately one third of contact lens wearers report sleeping or napping in their lenses? Sleeping in contact lenses increases the risk for contact lens–related eye infections by six- to eightfold. Corneal infections might require surgical intervention and result in corneal damage and possible permanent vision loss.
To reduce eye infections, Dr. Shofner always recommends those that wear contacts to properly follow the care instructions (includes cleaning & storage). Improper cleaning and irregular replacement of contact lenses and contact lens cases have been linked to a higher risk of complications. “Keratitis is a painful eye infection often linked to improper contact lens use and can be prevented,” says Dr. Shofner.
Dr. Shofner also recommends obtaining prescription lenses that have been properly fitted to your eyes from a reputable vision care center and that are FDA approved to avoid the following risks:
- Conjunctivitis (a highly contagious infection of the eye)
- Corneal edema (swelling of the cornea)
- Allergic reactions and corneal abrasion caused by poor lens fit
- Reduction in visual acuity (sight)
- Contrast sensitivity and other problems that can interfere with driving and other activities
If it’s been over a year since your last eye exam or if you are experiencing any vision changes, give us a call or schedule an eye exam online. We care about your vision and hope you have a Happy Halloween.
Image by SherieBeazley from Pixabay