Let This Guy's Story Serve as a Warning: Avoid Costume Contact Lenses This Halloween

halloween contact lenses
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In order to put the finishing touches on our Halloween costumes, some of us might consider popping in some head-turning freaky colored contacts. It turns out you may want to revisit the drawing board, though, because health experts are warning people about the damage that these costume contacts can cause. 

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In 2005, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration made non-prescription contact lenses illegal, yet it's easy for people to get their hands on them online or in specialty retailers, and especially Halloween stores.

Since the "one size fits all" lenses bought from novelty stores aren't tailored and fitted for each individual person the way contacts from a professional eye doctor are, they can damage the wearer's eyes in a variety of ways and cause cornea scratches, infection, an allergic reaction -- and possibly even blindness.

costume contacts
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In particular, circle lenses, which are meant to make eyes look bigger and dreamier, are especially dangerous because they cover more of the eye than regular corrective lenses do and can block oxygen, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).

Often, people who wear costume contacts aren't taking the proper precautions for caring for them, such as cleaning them regularly and avoiding sleeping in them.

halloween contacts
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According to the FDA, possible signs that your decorative contact is causing you grief are redness, any pain in the eye, or decreased vision. At this point, you should probably see an eye doctor ASAP. 

About two years ago, South Carolina–based Julian Hamlin experienced this very situation. He had been regularly wearing non-prescription colored contacts, which he bought from a gas station, for about two years "to enhance [his] look," he told Global News. One day, he woke up and his left eye was bothering him. After he was misdiagnosed with pink eye by an eye doctor, his left eye went blind. Since then, he's undergone 16 surgeries for a variety of eye problems, like glaucoma surgeries and cataract removal, but he's still legally blind in his left eye.

guy goes blind from contact lenses
Julian Hamlin/Facebook

"My message to people who want to wear colored contacts for Halloween: If you want to wear them, get them from an optometrist or eye doctor!" he said. "Don't chance it. I tell folks that every year."

Yet, eye doctors see a spike in costume contact–related visits right around Halloween time, meaning there are many more stories like Hamlin's.

When it comes down to it, contact lenses are medical devices and our eyes are some of the most delicate parts of our bodies, according to the AAO, and should be treated as such. So if you're dying for some colored contacts, you should definitely book an eye doctor appointment stat

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