Protect Your Eyes from Halloween Horrors

protect your eyes halloween eye injuries

Protect your eyes while Trick-or Treating with the kids this Halloween. Getting costume ideas ready for a Halloween party of your own? Don’t forget to protect your eyes from a few Halloween horrors that can accompany those costumes! Every year we see reports come in about eye injuries from Halloween activities, so with Halloween right around the corner, we hope you’ll take caution to protect your eyes with these great tips.

1. Avoid Decorative (Non-Prescription) Contacts

We’re sure you’ve seen them – either at a haunted house, or amongst the trick-or-treaters, the creepy contact lenses that are blood red, ghostly light-blue or look like cats’ eyes. They may look cool, but they top the list as the #1 eye injury risk this Halloween.

Not only is it illegal to sell contacts without a prescription, as a consumer you should never buy contact lenses without a proper examination and prescription by an eye care specialist, this is just a bad practice and does not protect your eyes. Also called fashion lenses, theatre contact lenses and cosmetic contact lenses, these non-prescribed, decorative contact lenses can cause serious injuries to the eye including: blindness, corneal infection, conjunctivitis, decreased vision and serious pain.

FDA eye expert Bernard Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed. says, “What troubles us is when they are bought and used without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care. This can lead to significant risks of eye injuries, including blindness… sometimes within as little as 24 hours.”

2. Soften and Shorten the Swords

Take caution when buying costumes that may need a knife, spear, wand, bayonet, trident or sword. When you’re accessorizing costumes with spears, swords and other objects – look for items made of foam that are soft, flexible and short. Children especially have difficulty controlling longer objects, and having them run around, in the dark, with a long, hard object of any kind should be avoided. A softer, shorter prop will still get the idea across without the risk of causing eye injury to yourself, your child, or other people in your party.

3. Choose and Use Make-Up Carefully

A well painted face can make or break a costume and typically painting your face is safer than wearing a mask because a mask limits vision. However, make-up can still cause serious harm if you don’t choose and apply it carefully.

First, keep in mind the make-up you’re applying on skin does not have to be tested for quality before it makes it on the shelves. It is primarily up to the manufacturer to use FDA-approved color additives and avoid adding ingredients that have been prohibited by the FDA, so it’s buyer beware when it comes to make-up. A few safe tips to follow:

  • Make sure you use face paint and make-up that is hypoallergenic. It’s likely to be more expensive, but breaking out into a rash, hives or an infection is not the type of trick or treat you’re looking for this Halloween.
  • Read labels to verify the color additives are FDA approved. If you’re buying on-line, take the time to do the research and use this list of FDA Approved Color Additives for Use in Cosmetics. If you’re headed to the Halloween store, consider printing out the list and cross-checking the ingredients.
  • Keep Make-Up Away from the Eye. It’s very important when you’re applying make-up close to the eye to stay clear from the lid margin, or lash line. Make-up in your eye can cause infection and injury. If the label says to avoid the eye area, heed the warning.
  • Don’t Use Last Year’s Face Paint. Most make-up is very susceptible to bacteria and should be discarded after a few months to a year, depending on the ingredients. If your face paint smells, it likely has been contaminated and should be thrown out.
  • Properly Remove Make-Up Before Going to Bed. We know by the end of trick-or-treating and the sugar highs, proper clean-up of the face paint is the last thing on your mind, but prioritizing it can avoid eye infections and skin irritations. Make sure to help the younger kids and adults not accustomed to make-up removal (men) to properly get all the make-up off. Taking care to follow removal instructions is just as important as choosing and using the make-up. If the package says to remove with cold cream, don’t use soap and water and if the package says to use soap and water, don’t use cold cream.

4. Consider Flashlights Over Glow Sticks.

We know arming the children with glow sticks is an inexpensive and easy way to track the kids while they’re hopping from house to house, but their contents can cause serious eye infection and they don’t properly illuminate a path for trick-or-treaters. Consider using reflective tape on costumes and equipping the kids with illuminating flash lights. There are also a number of inexpensive LED products, like LED finger lights, that the kids find just as fun, but without the risk.

The eye doctors and eye care specialists at Corrective Eye Center hope these tips help you to enjoy Halloween festivities while avoiding eye injuries and infections. If you notice persisting eye irritation, itchiness, swelling and redness – call the Corrective Eye Center at (216) 574-8900 and our eye care specialists will help you to determine if it’s an eye emergency. Eye infections can intensify quickly so getting proper diagnosis and treatment early can be critical – it isn’t worth the risk. Be sure to protect your eyes!