What was supposed to be a fun day with her powder puff team turned horrific for a 17-year-old girl in Michigan, when one of the colored contacts she wore for their zombie dress-up day ripped off a layer of her cornea.
Leah Carpenter, a senior at Lakeview High School, bought the non-prescription costume lenses in late September in order to dress up with her teammates, she told WXYZ Detroit.
She woke up the next day with a red and puffy eye, and later learned that the contact lenses had torn her cornea — the outermost layer of a person's eye, which helps to focus your vision. She has since been to the ophthalmologist every day, but may never recover all of her vision in that eye.
"I missed out on homecoming. My school work is really behind," Carpenter told WXYZ Detroit. "My vision is not going to be 100%. I have a long road."
Unfortunately, Carpenter's story isn't an isolated incident. So many people fall victim to colored costume contacts, especially around Halloween, that the American Academy of Ophthalmology warns about the dangers on their website. Among their explanation of how these contacts can harm your eyes, the AAO shares three other stories of people who have seriously injured themselves after wearing the contacts — sometimes for just a few hours.
There's Julian, a teenage boy who liked to switch up his eye color with contacts he could buy at a gas station for $20. He's now legally blind in his left eye and has had to have 10 surgeries to treat infections and injuries. Then there's Laura, who lost part of her vision after wearing colored contacts for only 10 hours. And there's Robyn, who bought green contacts on a whim when she was 14 and contracted an infection that led to years of ophthalmologist visits and a corneal transplant.
None of these people are to blame for their injuries. They bought a product that they assumed would be safe — the place that sold Carpenter her lenses even claimed they were FDA approved, she told WXYZ Detroit — and only learned later that costume contact lenses are actually dangerous. The fault, the AAO says, should lie with the vendors selling these lenses.
"Although the practice has been illegal since 2005, today cosmetic contact lenses are still sold in shops and via online retailers to customers who are unaware that wearing these devices can result in serious eye injuries," the AAO website reads. Because contacts are not one size fits all, and need to be made specifically for a person's eye shape, they require a prescription.
So, if your Halloween costume look absolutely needs colored contacts, it's best to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to get that prescription ASAP.
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