With Halloween coming up, people are looking to get their costumes ready. Whether it’s showing off vampire-looking red contacts, glittery lashes, or the timeless cat-eye, do these products hurt your eyes? Can they cause a lifetime of damage?
“People don’t realize that they can develop such a serious infection from wearing contact lenses," said Dr. Herbert Knauf, an ophthalmologist at Morton Plant Hospital.
Are those colorful, decorative non-prescription contacts OK to wear? Not really! While they may spook up your Halloween costume, they can cause a scratched cornea, infection or even blindness, according to the FDA and CDC.
We use water to wash away the germs on our hands, but we shouldn’t use it near our eyes. Water isn’t sterile and can contain dangerous bacteria. So be sure to dry your hands completely before handling contacts.
“Bacteria can attach to the contact lens and then get in your eye,” Knauf said.
Also, what about those enhancers to lengthen our lashes? Fake lashes mess with your blinking and can even cause dry eyes. The glue used can damage the cornea if it enters the eye, causing a corneal burn. And putting oil, water, or solution into your mascara bottle to extend its lifespan can contaminate the product.
Not all beauty products include ingredients that are easy on the eyes. Avoid formaldehydes, parabens, and benzalkonium chloride (BAK), which is known to be toxic to the cells on the eye’s surface. You may see it listed as Quaternium-15.
Experts also recommend changing your makeup products often. Replace your mascara, eyeliners and eyeshadows at least every three months. If you get an eye infection, throw it all away and begin with a new set. Be sure to wash makeup brushes at least once a week with diluted baby shampoo.