You’d be amazed to hear the stories of people who’ve hurt their eyes while trying to complete a Halloween costume. Keep your family’s eyes injury-free with these 4 tips.
Tip 1: Contact Lenses
Laura Butler, of Parkersburg, W.V., learned what a true nightmare it can be if you buy costume contacts through an unregulated retailer. After trying on her new fashion contact lenses, Butler felt an agonizing pain. She struggled to remove the lenses and eventually went to the emergency room.
“The doctor said it was as if someone took sandpaper and sanded my cornea,” she explained. “He said he wasn’t going to sugar-coat it, that I could lose my eyesight or could lose my eye.”
Seven weeks and $2,000 later, Laura has permanent vision damage and will never see the same again. Her advice? “Take the time to go to the doctor, pay the extra money, and save yourself the agony.”
Bernard P. Lepri, O.D., an FDA optometrist in the agency’s Contact Lens and Retinal Devices Branch, says places that sell decorative lenses without a prescription may give you few or no instructions on how to clean and care for your lenses. Failure to use the proper solution to keep contact lenses clean and moist can lead to infections.
“Bacterial infections can be extremely rapid, result in corneal ulcers, and cause blindness—sometimes within as little as 24 hours if not diagnosed and treated promptly,” Lepri says.
Lepri adds that decorative contact lenses aren’t the problem themselves. He believes the issue lies in how people use them.
“It’s the way people use them improperly—without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care.”
So, how do you wear decorative contact lenses responsibly? Bryan Gibson, OD, says people should treat decorative contact lenses like they would normal contacts.
- Make sure they’re fitted by a professional.
- See to it that they’re disinfected and not expired.
- Wash your hands before touching the contacts.
- Know that decorative lenses are not like regular lenses
- Sleep in them.
- Wear them long-term.
- Share them.
Tip 2: Masks
Like fashion lenses, masks, goggles, and eye patches can impede your range of vision. To avoid this, wear costume additions on the top of your head when moving around to avoid injuries from running into things or falling. They can also cause irritation around the eyes, so take them off if they become uncomfortable.
Tip 3: Makeup
Costume makeup is often heavier than regular makeup, making it more hazardous to the skin and eyes. It can cause infections, allergic reactions, and even clog tear ducts. Reusing makeup from previous years can lead to a higher risk for infection, so buy new, hypoallergenic face makeup and keep it above the eyebrow. Any makeup used on the eyelid or close to it should be specifically designed for such use. Make sure to wash all makeup off before going to bed.
Tip 4: Other Potentially Dangerous Costume Pieces
Accessories like lasers (including toy lightsabers), spikes, guns, and even feathers can cause damage if they flash or poke the eyes. Be careful and keep these kinds of items away from the face and eyes to avoid injury.
Ideal costume setups fit well, are fire resistant, and have reflective capabilities. Besides being a pain to deal with all night, tight costumes can irritate skin, cut off circulation, and even begin to cut into the skin if worn for too long. Costumes that are too big can drag on the ground, getting caught or stepped on and causing falls. Fire-resistant fabrics are ideal for being around candle-lit jack-o-lanterns and bonfires, and reflective tape can keep you visible while running around in the evening hours.