Costume Contact Lenses Could Cause Serious Damage

Costume Contact Lenses Could Cause Serious Damage

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Ed Yeates ReportingOne patient is legally blind; another needed a corneal transplant. These are two among several cases reported today by ophthalmologists as they again warn consumers about over-the-counter cosmetic lenses.

The eyes have it, as they say, but in the worst way. Ophthalmologists say people are buying and using the lenses indiscriminately, especially for Halloween, not knowing or simply not worrying about the risks.

Ask any director making spooky movies. The best costumes are never the best unless the eyes mirror the masquerade. That's why colored cosmetic eyes are so popular again this year. But ophthalmologist Majid Moshirfar says what's really scary is not the costume -- it's what many of these non-fitted contact lenses are doing to the eyes.

Majid Moshirfar, M.D., Ophthalmologist, Moran Eye Center: "I have personally treated, within the past two Halloweens that we've had, people with herpes infections as a result of these kind of contact lenses."

Viruses and bacteria can lead to ulcerations of the cornea. A corneal transplant is the only way to save the eye when it gets this bad.

Majid Moshirfar, M.D: "It is not very forgiving. I think four or five years ago, one patient developed parasitic infection of the eye because they didn't know they have to clean it with saline solution, so they used the tap water."

Novelty lenses are sold legally, but in this case, these professionals will not sell to anyone unless they have a prescription from an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. And they teach customers how to keep the lenses clean.

Majid Moshirfar, M.D: "You have to understand that people who put these in their eyes are not typical, frequent contact lens users."

If you really want the colored lens, get a checkup by a professional. Make sure the lens fits the eye. And then remember these guidelines: Don't share with friends or schoolmates; clean them frequently in saline solution and washes approved for contacts; and avoid contaminating the lenses with Halloween makeup.

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