Costume contact lenses can hurt eyes, doctors warn

Adults, kids advised to steer clear

INDIANAPOLIS - It can look cool to liven up a Halloween costume with a pair of decorative contact lenses, but they're not "one size fits all" and can cause eye damage, experts warn.

Dr. Paul Rychwalski, a pediatric ophthalmologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said he believes kids and adults should think twice about using the contacts.

"The front surface of our eye, on which the contact lens lies, requires oxygen in the tear film and from the air," Rychwalski said. "So, if we cover that with a piece of plastic, we're really creating a barrier to the natural way the cornea gets it's nutrients and oxygen."

Decorative lenses have been known to scratch the cornea. They can also cause infections, pink eye and decrease vision, doctors said.

Rychwalski recommends to get the best fit, the curvature of the eye should be measured, along with how the lens refracts light. He said customers should never buy lenses from places like beauty salons, Halloween stores or boutiques.

"Simply using the contact lenses as a cosmetic device really isn't a good idea," he said. "If your doctor is prescribing contact lenses and you also want to change the eye color, that's safe to do because he or she has access to lenses that change the eye color but are also passing these very strict standards."

Rychwalski suggests using hypo-allergenic make-ups to dress up the area around the eyes instead of contact lenses.

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