ó On Halloween, Morgan Foy will transform into Elise, the
Spider Queen from the online video game "League of
Winter Park, Fla., womanís black-and-red costume resembles a
seductive spider queen standing on two hind legs. The six
other legs jut out sharply from the back of the costume.
make the costume even creepier: Foy, 21, will pop in contacts
to make her eyes look red.
be dangerous, doctors caution.
bought decorative red contact lenses with a few clicks online
ó but the contacts arenít supposed to be available for
federal law banned the sale of nonprescription contact lenses
in the United States. It classified all contact lenses as
medical devices, restricting their distribution to licensed
easy access concerns experts because the contacts ó cat eyes
and lizard eyes, for example ó are not regulated and can
damage the eye.
year around Halloween, the American Academy of Ophthalmology
and state organizations such as the Florida Society of
Ophthalmology ramp up their efforts to educate consumers about
the dangers of nonprescription costume contacts. AAOís
patient website, geteyesmart.org, features a teenager who lost
his eyesight after wearing $20 color contacts he bought at a
Dr. Deepak Raja, a cornea specialist at Orlando Eye Institute,
said this time of year he sees an increase in eye injuries,
particularly to the cornea ó the delicate, transparent layer
that covers the front of the eye.
lenses arenít one size fits all," Raja said. "But
people have very easy access to (decorative contact lenses),
and the problem is that they can cause infection if they donít
put, the ill-fitting contacts can rub against the cornea,
creating small abrasions, and bacteria can find their way into
layers that are protected otherwise.
no stranger to decorative contacts. She dons elaborate cosplay
costumes several times a year for conventions. For her last
costume, she wore contacts that covered most of her eyes and
made them look white.
was awesome, but my eyes were irritated by the end of the
day," she said.
decorative contacts sometimes arenít smoothly polished, and
any small irregularity on their surface, even microscopic, can
scratch the cornea. The lenses can also be contaminated; maybe
theyíre in a contaminated solution or have been mishandled,
said Dr. Jaime Membreno, past president of the Florida Society
seen patients with corneal scratches and infections just using
prescription contacts," said Membreno of RetinaMacula
Specialists. "The problem is compounded by costume
damage to the eye can happen as soon as the decorative
contacts are placed on the eyes or during a longer period of
time. Depending on the severity of injury, treatment varies.
Sometimes antibiotic eyedrops fix the problem; sometimes thereís
a need for surgery; and in extreme cases, patients might lose
their eyesight or an eyeball, Membreno said.
recommends that if you notice redness, excessive discharge,
swelling, pain or discomfort, remove the contacts and seek
medical attention. And keep your contacts. Your doctor can
culture the contact and find out what organism is the cause of
infection, Membreno said.
those who insist on wearing color contacts, thereís a safer
way to wear them: See an eye doctor and get prescription color
experienced a serious injury from the decorative contacts, but
a day after talking with the Sentinel, she wrote in an email:
"I decided to go and do a little research and found that
getting my lenses prescribed for me is much safer and will be
more comfortable, so Iíll be ordering them that way from now