College of Optometrists issues advice for those wearing novelty contact lenses for fancy dress

  • 25 Oct 2018

Avoid a fright: College of Optometrists’ survey reveals over a fifth of people in the UK have worn or plan to wear novelty contact lenses

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If you’re considering wearing novelty contact lenses this Halloween, you might be in for a scare! The College of Optometrists recently conducted research revealing over a fifth (22.8 per cent) of people in the UK have or plan to wear novelty contacts, which, without the appropriate care, could leave the user at risk of infection. 

The College of Optometrists has issued the following advice for those intending to wear contact lenses this Halloween:  

  • Although non-prescription lenses are widely available online and on the high street from hairdressers, tattoo parlours and nail bars, it is illegal to sell these lenses without the direct supervision of an optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor. 
  • Unlike standard contact lenses, fancy dress lenses are not tailored to your eyes, which can increase the risk of eye health issues. Lenses that are not properly fitted, or from unreputable sources may scratch your eye or cause an infection, so it is important that any contact lenses you wear are from a reputable source and fitted by a qualified professional who can give you the appropriate advice on how to use them safely. 
  • If you are re-wearing contact lenses of any sort, including novelty lenses, you must make sure that you clean them thoroughly after use and disinfect them with the recommended contact lens solution. Never use tap water, the wrong solution, or lick them – and if they drop on the floor don’t simply pop them back in.
  • You should not share contact lenses with friends, as even quickly trying them on can lead to eye infections. 
  • Driving with novelty lenses at night (even if you wear glasses over the top) may also be dangerous: if the lenses are opaque with a hole for you to look through, they may impair your vision if the hole that you look through does not align with your pupil. 
  • If you experience any eye discomfort when, or after, wearing any type of contact lens contact your optometrist without delay. 

Further information and advice to help look after your eyes can be found on the College’s Look After Your Eyes website.

Dr Susan Blakeney FCOptom, Clinical Adviser to the College of Optometrists, said: “It is illegal for novelty lenses to be sold without the supervision of an optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor. This is to protect the public, as it is important to ensure that any contact lenses you wear are safe for your eyes. Fancy dress lenses are often purchased by people who are not regular contact lens wearers, meaning they might not know how to handle and care for them properly. If you want to wear novelty lenses this Halloween, speak to your optometrist about what lenses you can be fitted with. They will advise you as to which lenses are suitable for you. Your optometrist will also be able to show you how to insert and remove your lenses safely.“


Notes to Editors

  1. *Research undertaken by Censuswide on behalf of the College of Optometrists in September 2018. 2003 people were surveyed.
  2. The College of Optometrists is the professional body for optometry. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and healthcare professionals.
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