Halloween can be hazardous to eye health

WASHINGTON — Playing dress up at Halloween can pose potential hazards if decorative contact lenses and eye makeup are part of your costume.

“So, you want to look like a zombie, or you want to look like vampire and that sort of thing, but what you’re seeing through is just a very, very small little hole in the middle of that lens,” Coastal.com in-house optician and eye health expert Christopher Day said.

“A lot of these cosmetic Halloween lenses, the decorative lenses, have little small holes in the middle for you to see through and the entire rest of that contact lens is all design.”

Vision already limited can become completely blocked

Day said decorative lenses can be dangerous if they’re either too loose or too tight and slip down past your pupil.

“While you blink it back into place, or shove it back into place — that half second or that one second — if it happens at the wrong time there could be some very, very serious consequences,” Day said, especially if you’re behind the wheel driving.

Poor lighting can add to potential problems

Whether you’re trick-or-treating, at a party or driving, lots of Halloween-related activities happen in low-light conditions, and Day said combining that with diminished vision can present problems.

“You could be tripping over something; you could be crossing the street and look for oncoming traffic — you might not see that traffic,” Day warned.

Problems with the fit can harm eye health

“The [lens] material is one thing; the fit is a completely different matter,” Day said. “You can have an FDA-approved contact lens material, but if you have not had an eye care professional check that lens [for proper fit] on your eyes, you have no guarantee of the safety of that lens.”

Some of the things the can happen, according to Day, include: scratching your cornea while trying to remove an improperly fitted contact or oxygen deprivation in the eyeball if the lens is too tight.

“Your eye is the only structure in your body that doesn’t get oxygen from blood. It gets all the oxygen from the air,” Day said.

“When the contact fits too tight, you’re risking suffocating your cornea.”

An oxygen-deprived cornea can become swollen with extra water and turn from clear to slightly milky-colored and foggy. And it can become hard to see through, which indicates damage is occurring.

“It is reversible; the eye is a very, very, very resilient mechanism. But, it’s best to be safe,” Day said, adding that if you suspect something is going on, you should go to your optometrist.

It’s best to be stingy with eye makeup

When gathering with friends to get costumes ready, Day warns about the potential hazards related to sharing Halloween eye makeup. These include infections, corneal ulcers and sty.

“Make sure you’re not sharing any makeup application products, such as brushes or pencils,” Day said.

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