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Five frightening risks of wearing contact lenses without a prescription

Posted By Chet Seward, Sunday, October 15, 2017

Zombie or devil contact lenses may elevate a Halloween costume’s fright factor, but wearing them without a prescription could result in something far more terrifying – blindness. CSEPS joins the American Academy of Ophthalmology in urging Halloween shoppers to understand the risks of wearing over-the-counter contact lenses. 

 While it is illegal to sell non-prescription contact lenses, they can still be easily purchased at many places such as beauty supply stores, costume shops and on the web. Falsely advertised as “one-size-fits-all” or “no prescription necessary,” these lenses can cause serious eye damage.

 Patients should be aware of the following risks:  

  1. Scratches to the eye – If contacts are not professionally fitted to your eye, they can scratch the clear front window of the eye. This is called a corneal abrasion, which is not only painful, but can cause permanent damage.
  2. Infection – Research shows wearing non-prescription contacts increases the risk of an infection called keratitis. Early treatment with antibiotic or steroid drops may preserve vision, but sometimes surgery, such as corneal transplantation, is necessary.
  3. Pink eye – Never share contacts because doing so can spread germs, causing conditions such as pink eye. Highly contagious, pink eye treatment depends on the cause, but typically includes antibiotic drops.  
  4. Decreased vision – Whether from a corneal scratch or infection, wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to decreased vision.
  5. Blindness – It’s no scare tactic: wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to permanent vision loss.

“One night of the perfect Halloween costume isn’t worth risking your vision,” said Thomas L. Steinemann, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “If you must have contact lenses to complete your costume, avoid over-the-counter ones at all costs. Protect your vision by getting prescription lenses from an eye health professional.”

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