Costume Contact Lenses Carry High Risk of Infection

Halloween is just around the corner, and while a crazy pair of contacts might seem like the perfect addition to your costume, DO NOT buy unprescribed lenses from over-the-counter or online sellers. Anyone who is not an optician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist selling contact lenses is doing so illegally. This also applies to circle lenses or any coloured lenses you can buy randomly at non-optical stores at the mall or online. Many websites claim to sell “100% authentic” and “#1 brand” lenses, but this is not safe.

Contact lenses are medical devices, which means they are subject to specific safety requirements. Online and over-the-counter products are produced by unknown manufacturers, who don’t follow the requirements. Contact lenses are NOT one-size-fits-all, and just like wearing the wrong shoe size, ill-fitting contacts can cause major discomfort and damage to your eyes.

The main concern is that these manufacturers may use unknown materials to make the lenses, and the sealed packaging does NOT guarantee that the lenses are sterile. Contaminants may scratch your cornea, cause an allergic reaction, or cause a serious infection which may result in permanent scarring and vision loss.
The risk of corneal infection when using cosmetic lenses compared to prescription contacts lenses is 12.5 times higher, as shown in a recent study

“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.
Read more here: Cosmetic contact lenses may cause blindness, warn doctors

You may think it’s not a big deal if you wear them for just one night…. Lots of people have prescribed contact lenses from their doctor for occasional wear! However, the risk is MUCH, MUCH higher with unprescribed lenses because 1) those lenses have not been approved for safety and 2) you have not been fitted with by a licensed professional.
In this 5 On Your Side clip, Robyn Rouse talks about wearing decorative lenses for a short period of time. “I put them in – wore them for 5 minutes… Took them out and went to sleep,” recalled Rouse. “In less than 24 hours – this is something that I have to deal with now for the rest of my life,” she added. Robyn developed an eye infection, which, after 10 years of eye problems, resulted in her having to get a corneal transplant.

There are good options out there for coloured lenses approved by Health Canada! You need to be fitted, even if you want non-prescription “strength” in the lenses. Make an appointment with Dr. Lee and let the staff know you are interested in coloured lenses so we can order in some trials to have ready at your next visit.

If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an optometrist. Eye infections like keratitis can quickly become serious and can cause blindness if left untreated.
Dr. Lee can be reached in Markham at (905) 805-0889 or in Pickering (905) 420-7070

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Your Child’s First Eye Exam

Here are great tips from Dr Dina Kulik, Pediatrician from Toronto on preparing your child for his/her first eye exam. Children should be seen at least once around age 2-3 before starting school, and the first exam can be as early as 6 months. Parents mistakenly believe that kids would complain if they couldn’t see, but they don’t because they accept it as normal.

  • Talk about the upcoming visit with excitement. If children are excited they are less likely to become fearful.
  • Schedule an appointment at a time when your child is alert and interactive, not during a naptime or mealtime.
  • Book yourself plenty of time. Rushing will stress you out and by extension your child will have less fun.
  • Use books or props to help prepare your child for the experience; we have a book about ‘Critter’ getting his eyes checked.
  • Use a low power flashlight on yourself or partner to show your kids how the eyes grow and shrink to the light. Then let them try it on you. Use this time to talk to your child about the use of bright lights before the appointment.
  • Rewards, rewards, rewards. When you start talking about the appointment tell your child about the reward he or she will get for behaving well.

See More at How Vision Problems Can Affect Your Child’s Abilities. (Yummy Mummy


October is Children’s Vision Month in Canada, so book your eye exam today! Children are covered for one full exam per year by OHIP.

Also visit Doctors of Optometry Canada to enter for a chance to win one of five weekly prizes including an HP laptop, and a chance at the grand prize valued at over $5000!
Click here to enter the Children’s Vision Month Sweepstakes

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