Wearing Contact Lenses this Halloween? Proceed with Caution, Opticians Advise

Monday, October 28, 2013

Colored contact lenseFrom masks to hats, gowns to uniforms, Halloween revelers and trick-or-treat enthusiasts will don all manner of clothing as they celebrate the spookiest day of the year on Oct. 31. But one thing that the health community is pleading with the public to wear with extreme caution is anything that can alter how their eyes look, as the short-term benefits can have long-term repercussions when precautions aren't taken.

The Opticians Council of Canada recently released a statement, urging anyone who plans on wearing cosmetic contact lenses to follow the directions exactly as they're instructed. These contacts - which come in a variety of colors and make the eyes looks like those of a cat, wolf or vampire, among others - can cause serious side side effects when handled in a haphazard or sloppy manner.

The OCA reported that a number of people who've used these contacts have suffered severe eye infections less than 24 hours after removing them, with some of the effects being permanent. Additionally, they've been known to cause allergic reactions, swelling of the corneas and blindness in a select number of instances.

Cosmetic contact lenses are quite common in the entertainment industry among actors playing different roles, OCA noted. Marcine Peter, who works behind the scenes in Hollywood, said that while these contacts lenses are used on a regular basis - particularly in sci-fi series like "The X-Files" on television and "The Chronicles of Riddick" on the silver screen - a tremendous amount of care is heeded.

"We safeguard the vision and eye health of the actors on set by monitoring the lens fit and ensuring that proper safety measures are followed," said Peter. "Every pair of contact lenses is professionally fitted by one of our licensed lens technicians and the wear of the lenses is monitored to ensure not only the short term, but also the long term ocular health."

Not only is being able to see a key component of Halloween safety, but so too is being seen. The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers some suggestions for parents and adults so that they can ensure that they are visible when going from house to house for trick-or-treating.

  • Carry a light source. Especially in rural neighborhoods, street lamps are a rare sight. This makes it particularly dangerous to be walking on the side of the road, as motorists may not see you or your child. Be sure to carry a flashlight, ensuring that the batteries are fresh.

  • Wear bright colors. Because Halloween costumes are often dark in color. However, if at all possible, choose a costume that's yellow, orange or white - any color that's vivid. Alternatively, see if you can find a vest that reflects when light is shone on it. Most stores also carry reflective tape, which can be easily attached to bags of candy or the trim of a costume.

  • Ensure holes in mask are large. Ideally, it's best to use face paint rather than a mask, if for no other reason than because it's more comfortable. But if a mask is a key component of a costume, make sure that the openings are large enough to be viewed out of so that there isn't an obstructed view.

Following these tips should reduce the risk of an accident taking place. According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, car insurance claims on Halloween are common. In 2012, Halloween was the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian accidents, based on statistics between 1990 and 2010.