Halloween contact lenses can be scary!

Illegal contact lens sales putting revellers’ eyesight at risk

The Eyecare Trust has issued a stark warning to highlight the risk the illegal sale of contact lenses poses to the public’s eye health. Despite often being regarded as a fashion accessory or novelty item cosmetic or decorative contact lenses – including plano (non-prescription) lenses – must, by law, be supplied by or under the supervision of a registered optometrist, suitably qualified dispensing optician or medical practitioner . Yet, worryingly, cosmetic and decorative lenses are increasingly available from unregulated internet sites as well as market stalls, beauty salons and general retailers nationwide. Kelly Plahay, Optometrist and Acting Chairman of the Eyecare Trust explains: “All contact lenses whether you wear them for fun or to correct your vision require the same level of care and attention because improper use can lead to serious eye infections, corneal ulcers, abrasions and even blindness or the loss of an eye.” Kelly continues: “Coloured and decorative contact lenses are really popular during the Halloween season so the Eyecare Trust is urging people to seek professional advice at their local optician if they or their children plan to wear them.”

Common symptoms associated with unsupervised contact lens use include: red, sore or gritty eyes; a watery discharge; dry eyes; sensitivity to the light; headaches; blurred vision and sight loss. Follow the Eyecare Trust's top tips for wearing cosmetic contacts to help safeguard your eye health and keep your eyes looking gorgeous, sassy and bright…

  • First, have an eye examination - your local optometrist will advise you on your suitability for contact lens wear
  • Take advice on the best sort of lens for your needs
  • Only buy from a registered optical professional who will give essential advice on how long and how often you can wear your lenses, as well as guidance on handling, cleaning and storing your contacts
  • Don’t wear the cosmetic lenses for longer than advised. Wearing time restrictions will vary from person-to-person
  • Ensure you go for regular check-ups of both your contact lenses and eyes
  • Disinfect and clean your lenses and any storage case daily in the recommended solution to kill any micro-organisms that may cause infection
  • Daily disposables should be disposed of daily!
  • Never wear anyone else's lenses or allow them to wear yours
  • If your eyes hurt, look red or feel irritated remove the lenses immediately and seek professional advice.

Contact the General Optical Council www.optical.org or your local trading Standards Department to report suspected mis-selling of cosmetic contact lenses.

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