General Optical Council Press Release
Cosmetic contact lenses are often sold illegally on market stalls, joke shops and websites^1^. These unauthorised outlets rarely provide adequate advice about how to wear and care for contact lenses safely.
By law, cosmetic contact lenses should only be supplied under the supervision of a registered optician or doctor who will check the lenses will not cause damage and provide aftercare advice to reduce the risk of infection.
Mr Badrul Hussain, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“Each year we treat patients, including children under 16, who have developed eye conditions after wearing cosmetic contact lenses. There can be an increase in these problems in the period around Halloween. Some of the cases we see, like patients sharing lenses with friends, wearing the same pair year after year well past the expiry date, and storing them in tap water, have devastating effects.
Most of the patients haven’t been shown how to look after their cosmetic lenses or their eyes properly. Not knowing the basics of using contact lenses safely can put you at higher risk of developing painful eye injuries, infections and in the worst cases, risk of permanent sight loss.
The cornea, the clear window at the front of the eye, is delicate and can be scratched easily by inexperienced contact lens wearers. This can expose the eye to organisms that can cause nasty infections, which in extreme cases can result in permanently impaired, or loss of, vision.”
Advice for anyone planning to wear cosmetic contact lenses this Halloween is:
For further information about how to wear contact lenses safely, visit www.loveyourlenses.com/how-to-love-your-lenses/
1. Of people who have ever bought cosmetic contact lenses: 39% have bought them from an internet supplier, 34% have bought them from a fancy dress/joke shop, 12% have bought them from a hairdressers and 41% have bought them from their regular optician. Source: BMG Research GOC 2015 Contact Lenses Survey (link to research)
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