5 scary things that can happen if you wear novelty contact lenses

Novelty contact lenses are the latest craze for costumes and role-play, but could a bit of fun result in some not so fun eye issues down the track?

1. The lenses could ‘stick’ to your eyeballs like a suction cup

You must be properly fitted for contact lenses by a professional optometrist. Novelty contact lenses come in basic sizes or in some cases, aren’t sized at all. There have been several cases of people using contact lenses that form a water seal against the eyeball of the wearer, causing instant pain and severe discomfort. This suction like seal also makes it painful and difficult to remove the contact lenses. In some cases, unlucky lens wearers have required emergency surgery to have them removed.

2. They could scratch the delicate surface of your eye

Due to the fact that novelty contact lenses are unregulated, they often go to market without going through the proper testing procedure. They’re also mainly available online or through costume stores that won’t necessarily follow the legal protocol of contact lens sales. This means that quality control is almost non-existent and many sets of novelty contact lenses get shipped without being properly tested for their intended purpose - to act as a safe covering for a human eye. Novelty lenses can cause corneal abrasions which can lead to redness, sensitivity, pain and in some cases can even cause eyes to produce an infected discharge. 

3. They don’t come with medically approved safety instructions

Any prescription contact lens wearer knows the amount of rigmarole required to keep their contact lenses safe. They need to be replaced often, kept clean and stored carefully overnight. Fashion contact lenses often come with very vague instructions or no instructions at all, leaving inexperienced lens wearers at risk of contaminating or damaging their own eyes through improper use of the product. Fashion lenses are favoured by teenagers and there’s a horrifying practice amongst people of this age group to share lenses, which can lead to serious eye health issues and infections. 

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4. You could get a serious infection

Corneal abrasions and ulcers create openings on the surface of the eye making them very susceptible to infections. Infections can also be caused from chemicals and materials that have not been tested for human use. If you buy a product from an unprotected industry, there are layers of risk involved. Without approval from a governing body there are many stages where something can go wrong. To keep your eyes safe, always buy products that are TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) approved in Australia.

5. You might even go blind

The American Academy of Ophthalmology reported on a terrifying case of a teenager who regularly used inexpensive, non-prescription contact lenses to change his eye colour and he eventually went blind. Julian Hamlin is just 21 years old and has had ten different surgeries on his eyes to amend the damage the costume lenses caused. The constant pressure from wearing ill-fitting contact lenses permanently damaged the optic nerve, almost to the point of no return. So even if you don’t experience immediate symptoms from wearing novelty lenses, it doesn’t mean you aren’t causing permanent damage to your eyes. 

When considering contact lenses, it’s best to talk to a professional Optometrist. You can find your local Bupa Optical store here to book an appointment. Your local Bupa team of experts can also assist you with finding the right contact lenses for your needs.
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