TORONTO – Cosmetic contact lenses may seem like the perfect final touch for your Halloween costume, but eye experts in Canada are issuing a warning that the costume complements could cause permanent eye damage.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO), the Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) and the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) say that improper use of cosmetic contacts can cause serious damage, even blindness.
The organizations say that decorative lenses, which change the appearance of your eyes but offer no vision correction, can cause complications with just one use.
“In the past year we have received numerous incident reports from optometrists who have treated patients with serious cases of infection, corneal ulcers, corneal abrasion, allergic reactions and swelling resulting from novelty contact lenses,” said Dr. Paul Geneau, CAO president.
“The scary thing is, corneal ulcers without treatment, can lead to internal eye infection and ultimately scarring of the cornea, resulting in permanent vision loss.”
A recent French study showed that the risk of corneal infection is 12.5 times higher when using cosmetic lenses versus prescription contact lenses.
In Dec. 2012, the Canadian government passed legislation that amended the Food and Drugs Act to designate non-corrective contact lens as Class 2 medical devices, making them subject to the same requirements as prescription contact lenses. The law, however, hasn’t come into effect yet, meaning most cosmetic contact lenses in Canada remain unlicensed and can be purchased in non-professional shops including costume stores, shopping malls and online.
Since 2009, it has been illegal to sell cosmetic contact lenses without a prescription in the U.S., U.K. and Japan.
Representatives from the CAO, OAC and COS say that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all for contact lenses.
They urge all Canadians who want to buy cosmetic contact lenses to go through an eye specialist.