Kids of all ages love dressing up, going to parties, and knocking on neighborhood doors begging for candy. Some people spend a lot of time and money to earn the coveted “best costume” award but don’t get carried away when you are getting in character. Nobody wants to end up in the emergency room with an eye injury.
Instead, listen to the experts and heed these scary stories taken from the ER files*:
The girl with the suction cup contact lenses
Getting novelty contacts may complete your vampire look, but unless you are willing to go to an optometrist, it's not worth it. When you’re tempted, remember this woman from West Virginia who bought a pair of contacts from a souvenir shop. Ten hours after she put them in, she was in extreme pain because the lenses stuck to her eyes “like a suction cup."
Dr. Ranya Habash, an ophthalmologist with Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, explains that the ones that you buy at a store are not the same as the ones you get through your eye doctor. “When contacts are prescribed, they are fitted just for that person, for the patient,” she says. “And if they're incorrectly fitted, then the contacts can cause scratches and abrasions on the front surface of the eye, which can lead to infections.”
You should also never buy contacts that are sold online or from an unknown source. Some tinted contacts have been found to have chemicals in them that can seep into the eye causing eye injury, says Dr. Habash. In fact, a 2015 study conducted in Japan found traces of chlorine in three out of the five commercially available non-prescription colored contacts they tested.
Beware the glowing goo
Glowsticks can be very useful during trick or treating, plus kids love them! The problem is, kids REALLY LOVE THEM. For instance, take the case of the four-year-old girl who bent and snapped a glowstick getting the fluid in her eye or the five-year-old boy who did the same thing. Both were diagnosed with chemical burns to the eyes.
“We see exploding glow sticks a lot actually,” says Dr. Habash. “The chemical inside of them is hydrogen peroxide, which is a chemical irritant to the surface of the eye.”
The best thing you can do is to make sure small children are not playing with glowsticks – or anything that could cause an eye injury – while unsupervised. But, if an accident happens, Dr. Habash says to flush out the eyes as soon as possible and seek medical care.
A sticky horror story
You’ve all heard that you shouldn’t stick a finger in your eye? Well, you shouldn’t stick glue in your eye either.
Emergency room records contain several instances of eye injury when women get nail glue in their eyes. Or, there is the unusual case of the 17-year-old female who visited the ER with blurred vision and eyelid swelling “after applying decorative gems to the outer portion of her eye.”
“Every year, we inevitability have people coming in with red eyelash extensions, and the glue is in the eye, and it’s really inflamed,” says Dr. Habash. For these patients, she uses an emollient to soften the glue, which helps it to come out of the eye. “When glue is in the eye, it causes a lot of inflammation. It can stick to the front surface of the eye, causing abrasions and irritation inside the eye.”
A foreign body sensation
Glitter may seem like harmless fun … until you get some stuck in your eye! This happens often, says Dr. Habash. “Glitter makeup around the eye can cause the glitter flecks to go inside the tear film, and that can give people a foreign body sensation. It can even cause a chemical reaction and act as a chemical irritant.”
The cursed eye infection
The ER files tell the tale of a two-year-old boy who came in with conjunctivitis from “the face paint his mom put on him for Halloween.” In another case, a 21-year-old female came in with eye pain after “wearing a lot of Halloween makeup.”
According to Dr. Habash, bacteria can grow in eye makeup. But eye infections and irritations can be avoided by following some common sense eye makeup rules:
- Don’t share makeup with people, even if it's your close friend or family member
- Throw out your eye makeup every three months
- Don’t put eyeliner too close to the margin of your eye because it can block the pores and cause irritation.
“The most important thing is listening to your eyes,” says Dr. Habash. “When your eyes are red, irritated, blurred, or they hurt, they are trying to tell you that something has irritated them. Ignoring those signs can lead to much more serious issues.”
*Emergency room cases are taken from medical records found in the US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database.
Natasha Bright is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News. You may have read her writing on the Huffington Post and Scary Mommy websites.