October Declared Contact Lens Safety Month to Promote Eye Health
In the United States, approximately 45 million people wear contact lenses, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To raise awareness about the importance of proper contact lens use and prevent serious vision issues, Prevent Blindness has designated October as Contact Lens Safety Month.
A recent study conducted by the CDC revealed that over 80 percent of contact lens wearers engage in behaviors that put them at risk for contact lens-related eye infections. These behaviors include sleeping or napping in lenses, swimming with lenses, and not replacing lenses and lens storage cases within the recommended time frame.
While colored contact lenses are popular year-round for individuals who want to change the color of their iris, there is a surge in usage during Halloween to enhance costumes. However, it is crucial to note that all contact lenses, even those used for cosmetic purposes, are classified as prescription medical devices by the FDA.
Prevent Blindness is offering resources such as fact sheets, shareable social media graphics, and a dedicated webpage to educate the public about contact lens safety. As part of its Focus on Eye Health Expert Series, Prevent Blindness President and CEO, Jeff Todd, discusses patient advocacy and the potential dangers of misusing contact lenses with Thomas L. Steinemann, MD, a professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University.
During Halloween or any time of the year, contact lens wearers must exercise extra caution when applying and removing eye cosmetics. The American Academy of Ophthalmology advises purchasing decorative contacts only from retailers that require a prescription and sell FDA-approved products. Non-compliant lenses may not meet federal health and safety standards and can lead to corneal abrasions, ulcers, and keratitis.
It is important to emphasize that selling contact lenses without a prescription is illegal in the United States. Only prescription lenses fitted by an eye specialist should be used.
Prevent Blindness recommends several safety measures, including not sharing contacts with others, using aerosol products before inserting lenses, applying makeup after inserting lenses and removing it before taking lenses off, using water-soluble cosmetics labeled safe for use with contact lenses, and avoiding frosted and glittery eye shadows that can contain harmful particles.
“Contact lenses can be used safely and effectively to improve vision,” stated Jeff Todd. “We ask all contact lens wearers to be diligent and practice good hygiene every day to keep eyes healthy and avoid painful and potentially blinding infections.”