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Scary risks of cosmetic contact lenses

Houston, TX - 10/22/2013

If your Halloween costume includes changing your eye color, think twice before wearing cosmetic contact lenses.

Cosmetic, or decorative, contact lenses are commonly used throughout the year to change someone's natural eye color, but the popularity of these lenses soar at Halloween. When cosmetic contact lenses are not properly fitted by an eye care professional, the wearer may be at risk for infection, corneal scarring, or even blindness.

The white circle on this eye is a severe corneal ulcer caused by a single use of cosmetic contact lenses. Dr. Rahul Pandit, ophthalmologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, cautions people to visit their eye care professional for a proper fitting before wearing cosmetic contact lenses to prevent infections that can lead to painful corneal ulcers, which can cause blindness and even eye loss.
The white circle on this eye is a severe corneal ulcer caused by a single use of cosmetic contact lenses. Dr. Rahul Pandit, ophthalmologist at Houston Methodist Hospital, cautions people to visit their eye care professional for a proper fitting before wearing cosmetic contact lenses to prevent infections that can lead to painful corneal ulcers, which can cause blindness and even eye loss.

"Many people think that single-use contact lenses are safe because they will only wear them for one day, such as Halloween," said Dr. Rahul Pandit, ophthalmologist at Houston Methodist Hospital. "However, one day provides enough time for an ill-fitting contact lens to scratch the eye or cause an infection."

Regular contact lenses require an exam with an eye care professional and a prescription. Cosmetic contact lenses also require a prescription, but many consumers often illegally purchase these lenses without a prescription from beauty salons, costume stores, or online.

Some infections caused by cosmetic lenses can lead to corneal ulcers. While not commonly diagnosed, these ulcers pose the highest risk and can lead to blindness or eye loss. Corneal ulcers are painful and typically treated with antibiotics that are formulated specifically for a patient at a compounding pharmacy.

Pandit recommends that all contact lens wearers see an eye care professional for a proper fitting and call their physician if they experience any of the RSVP symptoms - Redness, Sensitivity to light, Vision worsening, and Pain.

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