View from the BCLA: Contact lens warnings
The ghoulish goings-on of Halloween are over for another year. With every passing year the festivities seem to get bigger, brasher and bolder but one thing remains constant – plano special effect contact lenses are a trick, not a treat.
We, along with other professional bodies, have issued repeated warnings over the potential dangers of wearing these accessories. We have highlighted the harm they can potentially cause without getting the necessary professional advice and we have raised awareness among our members to educate the public.
So, to tune in to Strictly Come Dancing last weekend and see celebrities, dancers and judges wearing these lenses as part of their costumes was, at best, disappointing and, at worst, downright irresponsible.
The BBC’s flagship Saturday night show reaches millions of viewers. By using cosmetic lenses in the dancers’ costumes it has potentially ‘normalised’ their use – threatening to undo much of the work done to warn against incorporating them into Halloween outfits.
Clearly, if all involved were sent to their local contact lens practitioner to be fitted appropriately then we should celebrate it, but the likelihood of this is slim.
These plano special effect contact lenses have been made popular by smash hit TV series and films including Twilight, are often shared around amongst friends - increasing the risk of corneal ulcers and infections. These lenses should only be purchased from a registered practitioner and should be prescribed by an eye care professional.
As a profession, we have a duty to protect our patients’ eye health. We strongly urge practitioners to reinforce the message that contact lenses are a medical device, not a fashion item.