Cosmetic lenses are absolutely everywhere. You’ll see them in almost in every fancy dress tutorial on Youtube and you can purchase them over the counter in salons and shops up and down the country.
They’re so readily available and widely used, they wouldn’t be on sale if they weren’t safe, surely?
Unfortunately that isn’t always the case.
You might have seen my Halloween mugshot gracing your favourite newspapers this week (or even TV!). The story of my experience wearing cosmetic contact lenses for Halloween has certainly raised some eyebrows. The phrases ‘oozing puss’ and ‘blindness’ are being thrown around quite liberally. However, this isn’t actually too far from the truth.
My experience with cosmetic contact lenses
Last year I dressed up as Medusa for a Halloween bash. I had scales on my face and a bag of gummy snakes with me, I thought the only way to finally complete my outfit would be to use cosmetic lenses.
I did my research and watched plenty of youtubers using them in tutorials with ease. They looked amazing! I went for a mid-ranged priced pair from a Manchester fancy dress shop. My inner snob thought I’d be safer with the ones I purchased, rather than buying the cheapest ones. They were around £20 and came with a soaking solution.
I followed all the instructions provided. I cannot stress enough how careful I was with these lenses. A lot of people on the internet have obviously waded in on this ‘stupid girl probably didn’t put them in properly’ ‘I can tell from this she’s done it wrong’ ‘I was fine when I wore mine, she must have ignored advice from the shop’ It’s amazing how much people can assume from a news piece isn’t it?
This awful reaction is completely common, so let’s just go with the advice the doctor gave me shall we?
She said that she’s seen hundreds of people in my position. They may have scratched their eye, gone home drunk and left them in over night, got glitter or makeup under the lens, had a reaction to the solution or lens itself – the list literally goes on! There is so much that can go wrong, even if you already wear contact lenses.
What can cosmetic lenses do to you?
I was extremely lucky. I had to wear an eye patch and take time off work, but I thankfully have no lasting damage. For other people it isn’t this same.
Eye ulcers – This is an open sore on the cornea. It can be cause by drying, infection and physical trauma – first timers are at particular risk, but it can of course happen to anyone.
Bacterial infections – It’s easy to forget you have contacts in and rub your eye. I don’t want to sound like a clean freak but no matter how hygienic you think you are, you’ll always have germs on you. This one is particularly common.
Corneal abrasions – There’s plenty of gruesome pictures online for this, but I’ll spare you the horror. I’m so lucky this didn’t happen to me. If you accidentally scrape the corneal surface away with your hands, or god forbid false nails, you could be left with permanent damage.
I worked with Optical Express as their case study and they’ve unfortunately had to treat hundreds of people for much more serious cases than mine.
- Puffy/red eyes
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Watering eyes
After just 3 hours my eyes began to burn. It felt like a migraine was coming on. I felt agitated, disorientated and my eyes were extremely red and sore. I immediately went home with my friends and removed the lenses. Here’s a picture of how puffy they were after I took them out.
In the morning I couldn’t open my right eye.
Did you get paid for your story?
No. In truth I did not get paid for any of these pieces. Although I secretly wish I did because I imagine PA have made quite a bit from my tale.
I’m glad the story is out but I’m worried that people won’t take it seriously due to how outrageous the news pieces sound. This could have been a lot worse. You always think ‘it won’t happen to me’ until it does. Even if you’ve used these lenses before, you’re gambling with your health. What happened to me was terrifying in the moment, but thankfully I was absolutely fine. Who’s to say it couldn’t be a different story for someone else?
I really hope this blog piece and the new stories make you think twice about using these lenses. Yes, people do use them and have no reaction but anything can happen. I had them in for a matter for hours, if I’d have simply thought it was a migraine and tried to power through the night I could have damaged my eyes further.
This is not fear mongering, it’s a real life story and I really want you to take it into consideration this Halloween.