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This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.
While many of us like to go over-the-top when it comes to costumes, one makeup artist is warning people not to wear decorative contact lenses this Halloween.
Jordyn Oakland, a professional makeup artist and esthetician from Seattle, Wash., took to TikTok to share her frightening experience with costume contact lenses last Halloween. The 27-year-old claims a pair of “black out” contacts she purchased from an online boutique for her costume removed the outer layer of her cornea, leaving her in “excruciating pain.”
According to Oakland, she was initially hesitant to wear the contacts, despite having seen many people wear them online. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Oakland said the lenses felt “stuck” when she first tried to remove them.
“So the second time I went in I grabbed it a little bit firmer and took it out of my eye and at that point it was just full of tears and it immediately felt like I had a really bad scratch on my eye,” she told the Daily Mail. “ I just started loading my eye with eye drops and splashing it with cold water. It felt like I had a piece of something stuck in my eye, so I was just rinsing, rinsing, and rinsing trying to get it out.”
Although she initially thought she had to “sleep it off,” Oakland went to the emergency room the next day. In a separate TikTok video, she claims she almost lost her eyesight, was unable to open her eyes for four days and was required to wear an eyepatch for two weeks.
Dr. Kevin Hagerman, a non-practicing registered optometrist who didn’t treat Oakland, reminds people that contact lenses are medical devices that come in all shapes, sizes, application styles and materials.
Hagerman tells Yahoo Canada that if the costume contact lenses don't fit correctly, the tight-fitting lenses can adhere to and remove the cornea epithelium, an extremely delicate layer of cells covering the cornea, resulting in “short-term visual disruption and long-term recurring problems."
Oakland’s plea for people to avoid ordering costume contacts online is echoed by Dr.Marianne Reid, another non-practicing registered optometrist who also did not treat Oakland.
According to Reid, all contact lens purchases should be done through a registered eye care professional who will provide a complete occulo-visual assessment. The initial assessment will include an in depth anterior segment assessment of the eye that focuses on the cornea, eyelid, eyelashes and conjunctiva — the membrane that covers the eye and lines the eyelid as well as the secretory system, which produces and drains tears, as well as measurements of cornea curvatures.
Reid says that optometrists require multiple appointments throughout the year, in addition to initial fittings, to monitor their patients and the fit of their contact lenses.
“It’s not that contact lenses per se are harmful, but rather that the lenses, in many cases, do not fit properly thus resulting in problems for the patient,” Reid explains to Yahoo Canada. “If the lenses are not fitting properly, corneal abrasions, recurrent corneal erosions or irritation may occur or the conjunctival tissue may react negatively to the lenses.
Medical emergencies, like a corneal ulcer that causes an open sore on the cornea, can also occur that require immediate medical attention and can potentially cause rapid and permanent vision deterioration.
“The take home message is to never just buy contact lenses without having the fit assessed,” Hagerman says. “Properly fitted contact lenses should not be difficult to remove. Lubricating with an approved contact lens lubricant prior to attempting removal can loosen the contact lens and minimize damage to the cornea.”