How Costumes cause Vision issues

Nov 03, 2014
Tagged with: How Costumes cause Vision issues

They say that the eyes provide a gateway into the soul, and this is for good reason. Simple glances convey pleasure, pain, love and hate. In fact, direct eye contact is known to inspire trust, ignite romantic flames, and even trigger violent conflicts. In light of this, it should come as no surprise that cosmetic contact lenses are popular the world over. Whether for Halloween, the stage, or a day indulging in Cosplay, the desire to portray ourselves as something other than we are is a hallmark of our species. Be that as it may, looking cool is pointless if you have lost vision to where you cannot admire yourself in the mirror.

No Laughing Matter

The eye is a complex, surprisingly durable creation. Nevertheless, it possesses a whole host of vulnerabilities. For example, let’s say your teenager is hopped up on vampire fiction and is now absolutely determined to roleplay as a thousand-year-old immortal. While a healthy imagination is certainly nothing to shun, the consequences of haphazardly throwing in cheap Twilight lenses from the Internet are potentially disastrous. A surge in serious complications has compelled the FDA to launch a nationwide campaign, partnering with the American Optometric Association and the Entertainment Industries Council to inform the public of the risks associated with trusting these often illegal products.

Contacts are not something to be dealt with lightheartedly. Decorative or otherwise, they are considered medical devices, and rightfully regulated by the FDA. Unfortunately, intense consumer demand has resulted in unsafe products being hustled by street vendors, party stores, and a plethora of websites. These shady retailers require no prescription and offer little to no instructions, breaking the law and placing customers in grave danger with every transaction.

Corneal Abrasions

Imagine the most excruciating medieval torture you can think of, and you’ll have a pretty accurate picture of the pain associated with a corneal abrasion. The cornea is the clear protective tissue covering the iris, and even the slightest scratch results in a medical emergency.

Consider the case of Laura Butler, a woman who fell victim to this while browsing tourist stands during a family vacation. Feeling spontaneous, she saw colored contacts on sale for $30. Unaware of the misery that awaited her, she sported the lenses for 20 minutes and then decided that they weren’t worth the hassle. The next day while driving home, a blinding pain forced her to pull over on the side of the road.

After being rushed to the ER, her doctor bluntly stated the seriousness of the situation. “The doctor told me it was as if someone took sandpaper and scraped my eye. The pain was agonizing. I used to lay on the floor and roll back and forth in the fetal position for hours.” Thankfully, $2,000 and weeks of healing were enough to repair the damage. That said, hefty medical bills and a state of inescapable agony are the least of your worries.


Anyone with knowledge of basic hygiene is well aware of the importance of disinfecting medical equipment. Regardless, the choice to buy and wear decorative lenses is often made spur of the moment. People mistakenly assume that just because they wear the lenses for only a few hours, no serious harm can possibly arise. In truth, infections fester like vermin, and your eye is a luscious garden ripe for the taking. For those failing to heed sanitation warnings, a nasty surprise lays in wait.

Keratitis is a painful infection known to blind victims within 24 hours. Arising from bacteria, fungus, and herpes, it’s without question the scariest threat facing all contact users. Non-prescription decorative lenses, in particular, increase the risk of developing it by up to 16 times. Furthermore, the same study found that 60% of costume lens related keratitis resulted in permanent blindness. Symptoms include red eyes, blurry vision, sensitivity to light, debilitating pain and liquid discharge. Needless to say, seek medical attention immediately if any of these apply to you.

Hey, Doc: I Want to Be a Werewolf

Despite the dangerous charlatans, all hope is not lost for those wishing to safely morph into a creature of their choice. Although few people wish to take the time out of their day to visit an optometrist, a small fee and time spent in a waiting room can spare you from costly operations and a potential lifetime of darkness. Still, a script doesn’t automatically put you in the clear. Given the short nature of their use, proper maintenance is critical to safety. Taking the four common sense precautions listed below will go a long way in preventing tragedy.
1. First and foremost, always wash your hands thoroughly before handling contact lenses, as even the slightest amount of fungus and bacteria can cause serious damage.

2. Next, invest in a no-rub multipurpose cleaning solution. Ideally, you’ll sterilize lenses before and after each use. A large portion of keratitis spawns from failing to disinfect after storage, so don’t get lazy.

3. Speaking of laziness, never make the mistake of falling asleep in costume contact lenses. Sure, you’ll hear stories of people getting away with it, but there are certain things you just don’t gamble with, and your vision is definitely one of them.

4. Most importantly, remove the lenses immediately at the first hint of irritation. If pain persists, don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional.

When handled with care and overseen by a doctor, it’s entirely possible to use decorative lenses safely. Please, embrace your inner child responsibly.

Author’s Note: Happy Halloween everyone! What’s the coolest costume you ever wore?

Author: Aiden Wolfe

  • bobl07

    Thank you for these tips especially during the costume season.

  • Oneleggoalie

    Good one dude…