By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
If you’ve heard this before it’s worth repeating. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is out with its annual warning about the dangers of Halloween theatrical and decorative “contact lenses.”
It’s an ophthalmology marketing and advertising message that merits retelling to patients, parents and their children. The over-the-counter, special effect, vampire, color, and glow-in-the-dark lens products are making their seasonal appeal to unsuspecting costume buyers.
Consumers are often not aware that “purchasing any contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional can cause serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss,” according to the alert issued jointly by the Academy, the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, and the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists.
“Many people believe that decorative lenses don’t require the same level of care or consideration because they can be purchased over-the-counter or on the Internet,” says Thomas Steinemann, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a clinical correspondent for the Academy. “This is far from the truth. In fact, permanent eye damage can occur from using over-the-counter lenses.”
Halloween advertising often targets teens and young adults; some listing decorative contacts online as if they were cosmetics, fashion accessories or toys. “Halloween is a popular time for people to use decorative contact lenses, but it’s important to take proper care year-round,” according to the Academy advisory.