Whether you're dressing up for Halloween or cosplaying at your favorite comic convention, decorative contacts can be the one special touch that pulls your costume together. However, you need your eyes the other 364 days of the year, so you must take care when purchasing and using these special lenses. Here are three tips for safely wearing decorative contacts to minimize the health risk to your eyes.
Always Opt for Prescription Contact Lenses
It may seem like a lot of trouble to get an eye exam and have an optometrist write a prescription for decorative lenses, especially if you don't need glasses or contacts to correct your vision. However, there are a few reasons you should go through the trouble.
First, you're far less likely to get contacts that will damage your eyes if you order them through your optometrist. The specialty lenses you find in cosmetic or dollar stores may not have been manufactured correctly. Thus, you may get lenses with rough interiors or edges that will scratch your eyes and cause problems. The lenses may not have been properly handled during packing, shipping, and stocking, which means you may be risking a bacterial infection by using them.
Second, contact lenses are classified as medical devices, and only licensed medical professionals (e.g. optometrists, opticians) are allowed to sell them. Both you and the business selling them could land in legal trouble if caught by the authorities.
Lastly, contact lenses are not one-size-fits all products. In addition to checking your vision, the optometrist also measures your eyes and prescribes contacts that will fit comfortably. When you purchase decorative lenses from a novelty store, you risk getting them too big or too small, which can lead to issues such as Tight Lens Syndrome that causes damage to the cornea.
If you still choose to bypass the optometrist and purchase contacts from a regular retailer, be sure to get ones from a reputable manufacturer. Do your due diligence and check out reviews of the contacts before purchasing them to ensure they won't damage your eyes.
Practice Good Contact Lens Hygiene
The optometrist will teach you how to take care of your contact lenses when you pick up your prescription. However, if you've never worn contacts before, the first thing you should know is you must purchase contact lens solution and a storage case for them. The solution will clean the contacts and keep them moist, while the case provides an easy way to store them and protect the lenses from dust and dirt.
Always wash your hands before putting the contacts in or taking them out. Your hands are home to thousands of germs, and you could easily transfer an infectious agent to your eyes if you touch them without washing up first. Along those same lines, never lick your contact lens to clean them before putting them in your eye. Not only is that disgusting, but there are anywhere from 500 to 1,000 different types of bacteria in the mouth. You will definitely give yourself an ocular disease if you get saliva on your contact and put it in your eye.
Throw Them Out
While you may be tempted to keep the contact lenses for use in the future, it's best to throw them out when you're done with them. This is because contacts do expire after awhile. If you got your lenses from an optometrist, the packaging will typically tell you how long the contacts are good for. If you purchased them through a novelty shop, though, that info may not be available and it's best to just throw them away once the night has ended.
For more tips on wearing decorative contact lenses safely, contact a local optometrist.