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SOURCE Canadian Association of Optometrists
OTTAWA, Oct. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - While white irises or cat eye pupils might
seem like a cool trick to enhance this year's Halloween costume, it is
no treat when serious eye damage occurs. The Canadian Association of
Optometrists (CAO), the Opticians Association of Canada (OAC) and the
Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) warn that vision loss,
sometimes permanent, can result from improper use of cosmetic contact
lenses. Decorative (plano) lenses do not correct vision but change the
colour and appearance of the eye for cosmetic or theatrical effect.
Complications can arise from just one night's use! If you decide to
purchase these, we urge you to consult a trained eye care professional
"In the past year we have received numerous incident reports from
optometrists who have treated patients with serious cases of infection,
corneal ulcers, corneal abrasion, allergic reactions and swelling
resulting from novelty contact lenses," said Dr. Paul Geneau, President
of the Canadian Association of Optometrists. "The scary thing is,
corneal ulcers without treatment, can lead to internal eye infection
and ultimately scarring of the cornea, resulting in permanent vision
Improper handling including sharing lenses between users, using saliva
or tap water to moisten lenses, and sleeping in lenses often lead to
infection and complication, but there are other reasons. A recent study
in France identified that the health risk for corneal infection is 12.5
times higher using cosmetic lenses, than for prescription contact
lenses without oversight by an authorized eye care provider. Individual
eyes have their own shape and curvature, and prescription contact
lenses accommodate this. Often cosmetic lenses come with only one base
curve. If a contact lens doesn't fit properly, it is very easy for it
to damage the eye. The eye is the most sensitive organ of the human
body. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all contact lens. "We
had a case report of a patient who had run out of her usual
prescription contact lenses. This patient was properly fit and
monitored and well versed with proper handling techniques. On a whim,
she ordered cosmetic lenses online and ended up with significant issues
with her corneal tissue, accompanied with severe pain," said Dr.
Geneau. "Her best corrected vision went from 20/20 to 20/30 in each
"The real danger here is that Canadians have been able to buy decorative
or cosmetic lenses without a prescription and proper fitting by an eye
health specialist," said Dr. Paul Rafuse, President of the Canadian
Ophthalmological Society. "These lenses change the appearance of the
eye but can produce corneal ulcers than can quickly lead to permanent
loss of vision if left untreated."
Many of the novelty contact lenses are being purchased online, from flea
markets, pharmacies, Halloween stores, and mall kiosks. It is wrong for
the consumer to assume that all of these unregulated products are being
manufactured safely. The quality of the material used to manufacture
the lenses can be inferior. In 2008 in Japan, the National Institute of
Technology and Evaluation (NITE) reported cases of a colour lens dye
leaking directly on to the eye. Since 2009, the US, UK and Japan all
require prescriptions for cosmetic contact lenses. It is illegal to
sell them without a prescription in these countries.
Canada is behind other countries in regulating cosmetic contact lenses.
The Canadian government passed Bill C-313 in December 2012 to classify
non-corrective contact lenses as class II medical devices (the same as
prescription contact lenses). The new law has not yet come into effect,
so most of the cosmetic contact lenses are unlicensed in Canada. The
eye care professions in Canada (Optometry, Ophthalmology, and
Opticianry) are advocating that the provincial governments move to add
non-corrective contact lenses to the regulations that currently exist
for prescription contact lenses.
"Every year, post-Halloween one of our members reports a tragedy due to
improper use of decorative contact lenses. Don`t let that tragedy be
your vision" warns Dalie Schellen, President of the Opticans
Association of Canada.
Vision is our most precious sense. If novelty contact lenses are the
finishing touch for your Halloween costume, see a doctor of optometry,
an ophthalmologist or a licensed optician first. They will assess your
eye health and fit your lenses and provide the training for proper use
About the Canadian Association of Optometrists
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) is a professional
association that represents over 4,900 doctors of optometry in Canada.
CAO's mission is to enhance the quality, availability, and
accessibility of eye, vision and related health care; to enhance and
promote the independent and ethical decision making of its members; and
to assist optometrists in practicing successfully in accordance with
the highest standards of patient care.
About the Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian Ophthalmological Society is the national public authority
on eye care in Canada, representing eye physicians and surgeons from
every province and territory, and advocating for improved vision care
policies and standards in Canada, and around the world.
About the Opticians Association of Canada
The Opticians Association of Canada is a professional association
representing Licensed Opticians in Canada. Our mission is to promote
Licensed Opticians and the profession; to develop and maintain a
professional standard of knowledge and proficiency in our occupational
field, and to educate and inform vision care consumers about matters
related to their eye health.