When ghosts, pirates and superheroes knock on your door Oct. 31, some may be looking through a dangerous accessory as they seek sugary treats.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that decorative contact lenses, popular Halloween costume enhancers used to temporarily change eye color or create patterns in the eye, can pose dangers to the eye when used without a prescription.
A 2005 federal law banned the sale of decorative lenses as over-the-counter products; they require prescriptions just like corrective lenses and are regulated by the FDA. Nicholasville police Sgt. Scott Harvey said the city police have not dealt with any recent issues of unauthorized sale of decorative lenses. Nicholasville optometrist David Ditto said he has heard that decorative lenses are sold illegally and that one of his biggest fears is the origin of an unregulated product.
“Part of the concern with the decorative ones is I’m not sure where they come from, whether they’re sterile upon insertion and whether they’re manufactured in such a way that there could be inherent risk to the eye just in the way they affect the eye,” Ditto said. “... If you ever see a corneal ulcer, even from people who have a legally fitted contact lens, it’s a scary thing, and I think the risk of that is much higher with an unregulated product.”
Ditto said care for contact lenses — both decorative and corrective — is crucial.
“There may be risk in terms of the way they’re made and the way they fit, but also, just as importantly, anyone who’s getting contacts needs to be aware of the need for sterilization and good hygiene to avoid getting an infection,” he said.
The FDA offers the following advice for those who want to use decorative contact lenses:
• Get an eye exam from a licensed eye-care professional, even if you feel your vision is perfect.
• Get a valid prescription that includes the brand and lens dimensions.
• Buy the lenses from an eye-care professional or from a vendor who requires that you provide prescription information for the lenses.
• Follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses, and visit your eye-care professional for follow-up eye exams.
Once in costume, there are still tips and rules to follow to stay safe on Halloween.
“Monitor what (kids are) given,” Harvey said. “We don’t have issues with problems with their candy, but just to be safe, check it out before you let them have any of it.”
Harvey said parents should exercise extra caution when they’re out driving on Oct. 31, and he strongly advises them to park the car and walk with their children while they trick-or-treat.
“I see more and more parents every year wanting to drive 2 miles an hour through the neighborhood while their kids trick-or-treat — park your car and get out and walk; it’s safer for everybody,” he said.
Wilmore’s “Treats on Main” program is set for 6-7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, this year; Nicholasville’s “Spooky Time on Main” is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 31. Both cities close a portion of Main Street and set up businesses and organizations to pass out candy to children.