Ophthalmologists warn of five frightening risks of wearing contact lenses without a prescription
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. UCLA Stein Eye and Doheny Eye Institutes join 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
Ophthalmologists – the physicians and surgeons that specialize in medical and surgical eye care – are reminding people of five frightening consequences of ignoring the warnings:
- 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.
- Infection – Research shows wearing non-prescription contacts increases the risk of an infection called keratitis by 16 times. Early treatment with antibiotic or steroid drops may preserve vision, but sometimes surgery, such as corneal transplantation, is necessary.
- 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.
- Decreased vision – Whether from a corneal scratch or infection, wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to decreased vision.
- Blindness – It’s no scare tactic: wearing non-prescription contacts can lead to permanent vision loss.
For more information about eye conditions or to find an ophthalmologist near you, visit uclahealth.org/eye.
Sauer, A., & Bourcier, T. 2011. Microbial keratitis as a foreseeable complication of cosmetic contact lenses: A prospective study. Acta Ophthalmologica 89 5, pp. e439-e422. DOI:10.1111/j.1755-3768.2011.02120.x