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eye damage

Here's why you shouldn't wear novelty contact lenses this Halloween

The products, which carry potentially serious health risks, have become increasingly popular in recent years.

RETAILERS HAVE BEEN warned not to stock novelty contact lenses in the run up to Halloween.

The products, which carry potentially serious health risks, have become increasingly popular in recent years.

However, retails are being reminded that the unauthorised selling of contact lenses is a criminal offence. 

There are many risks associated with the wearing of ill-fitting, poor quality contact lenses, including:

  • Red, sore or dry eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headaches
  • Blurred or reduced vision

In a statement, Coru, the Health and Social Care Regulator, noted: “Some of the novelty contact lenses on sale without appropriate professional supervision include cat’s eyes or blackout lenses. These are harmful and can reduce the peripheral vision affecting mobility, depth perception and balance and would make driving extremely dangerous. The packaging on these sometimes contains no warning of the dangers.”

The regulator also warned that “if the lens is too flat it can feel very uncomfortable, cause variable vision or even fall out”.

“If it is too steep it could cause stagnation of the tears and reduce oxygen to part of your eye, this can cause redness and swelling. If it is very steep it can become very difficult to remove and increase the risk of damaging the eye upon removal,” it said. 

It added that people often “dramatically” increase the risk of infection by using tap water or saliva to moisten the lenses.

These infections can include bacterial conjunctivitis, or a devastating condition called acanthamoeba keratitis. Acanthamoeba is an organism commonly found in tap water and hot tubs. It causes an infection which can lead to permanent visual impairment or in the worst cases blindness.

Coru CEO Margaret Hynds O’Flanagan said: “Novelty contact lenses have become more popular in recent years, particularly amongst young people around Halloween. While they look like fun, they can in fact be extremely dangerous.

“Poor quality contact lenses, or contact lenses worn by someone for whom they are not suitable, can lead to red, sore, or dry eyes, and worse still, they can potentially lead to damaging infections which, in the most severe cases, can lead to blindness.”

Hynds O’Flanagan said that “contact lenses are a healthcare product and must only be prescribed and/or sold by a registered medical practitioner, optometrist, or dispensing optician”. 

She warned that Coru will act against anyone in breach of the laws on the sale of contact lenses.

“The only people who may administer a contact lens prescription in Ireland is a Coru registered optometrist or dispensing optician, or a doctor. Any unregistered person or business selling contact lenses is breaking the law,” she said. 

“Coru has prosecuted businesses in the past and will not hesitate to prosecute in the future.”

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