Are special effects contact lenses safe?
Whether it’s for Halloween, cosplay events, parties, or just to change the colour of your eyes for fun, special effects contact lenses are popular and easy to find. But are they safe? If you’ve decided to pick up a pair, here are some important things to consider.
What are special effects lenses?
Typically, they are soft contact lenses, designed for daywear only. They often will cover the iris (coloured part of the eye), leaving the pupil clear so you can see. Occasionally, they also cover the sclera (white of the eye) – you may have seen, for example, those all-black monster-themed lenses. Nowadays, you can find nearly every colour imaginable, as well as superhero-themed lenses, glow-in-the-dark lenses, and even patriotic lenses with flags on them.
Where can you find them?
These specialty lenses can be found online, in beauty salons, even flea markets and gas stations! It’s important to always look for brands that are licensed by Health Canada. In 2016, Health Canada began regulating these types of lenses as medical devices and you can find a list of approved brands here. It is illegal to sell lenses that have not been approved by Health Canada.
Before you purchase a pair, you must have an eye exam and get a prescription from an eye care professional. That’s right, even if you have perfect vision (and require so-called plano lenses), your eyes still need to be measured and evaluated to see if, and which contact lenses would be appropriate for you. That’s because a good fit is very important and can help prevent any injuries to your eyes.
Are they safe?
In short, yes, they can be. However, there are serious risks involved when wearing special effects contact lenses that have not been approved by Health Canada, and without a proper prescription. These risks include corneal abrasions (scratches) and ulcers, infections, pain, decreased vision, and even permanent vision loss. Sometimes the paints and pigments used on the lenses do not allow oxygen to pass through to the eye, which could lead to hypoxia (or, a lack of oxygen) of the cornea, causing other serious effects if not attended to.
If you do buy a good quality pair of lenses, with a prescription from an eye care professional, you have to be as diligent with cleaning them as you would a regular pair of contacts. This includes proper hand washing, disinfecting the lenses, sanitary storage and, eventually, replacement.
Always be aware of any changes in your eyes or vision, even if you have purchased the proper lenses. There are a variety of reasons why you could still experience adverse effects, like contact lens intolerance.
And if you are going all-out for that costume party, make sure you keep safety top-of-mind with your makeup routine and eyelash extensions too.
- Have an eye exam
- Get a prescription
- Buy brands approved by Health Canada
- Clean them properly, like regular contacts
- Discard them on the indicated date
- Share them
- Buy from flea markets, bargain shops, etc.
- Sleep in them
Have regular contacts but tired of the hassle? Book a free, no-obligation consultation today to see how LASIK can help!