Doctors warn of horrors caused by contact lenses and makeup ahead of Halloween


Experts have warned Halloween enthusiasts to do their research before trying out cosmetic trends that could lead to blindness overnight.

North Queensland optometrist Dr Bernie Lanigan says he doesn’t want to see an increase in patients with eye problems after wearing cosmetic contact lenses as part of Halloween costumes.

“Generally contact lenses are governed by TGA regulations as it is a prescribed item,” he said.

The first signs of eye irritation are blinking and pain.(Provided: Miss Madness Photography/Chloe Wheeler)

Dr Lanigan said that although risk notification could be included, it was often only in small print and wearers were not told how to care for their eyes safely.

“There is a degree of education that is required to put a contact lens on the eye to ensure that the eye is getting enough oxygen through the contact lens and that no bacteria are introduced into the eye,” he said.

Excess chlorine has also been found on over-the-counter lenses.

“Chlorine is toxic to the cornea,” Dr. Lanigan said.

Too much chemical could abrade the eye, making it susceptible to normally harmless airborne bacteria.

Dr Lanigan said he treated a patient who lost vision in one eye after sharing a lens with her friend.

A scarecrow clown hanging from the roof in very low light.
Optometrists say contact lenses purchased online are often sold without instructions for proper care.(ABC North Queensland: Zilla Gordon)

Instead of just taking a chance, Dr Lanigan said potential wearers should leave the fitting to an optometrist.

“We spend our entire career measuring and making sure these things fit.

“These are not one-size-fits-all items and that’s why they’re prescription-only.”

Dr Lanigan said the first warning signs of potential damage were constant flashing and pain.

“In case of major discomfort, go directly to the emergency room.”

TikTok makeup trends are also concerning

Townsville makeup artist Chloe Wheeler said not every trend on YouTube or TikTok is suitable for DIY.

“Just because you saw it online doesn’t mean you have to do it on yourself or your friends,” she said.

“A few years ago, there was a trend of covering the eyes with cotton swabs.

“I would personally use medical grade eye pads, but you would see people using other things.”

Ms Wheeler said anything applied directly to the skin should also be considered safe.

“Otherwise I would put it on something like liquid latex, which is safe for your skin, and then you can put the product on it.”

A woman wearing pink makeup and holding a lollipop to one eye
Makeup artists say just because there are tutorials online doesn’t mean you should try it at home.(Provided: PBH Studio/Chloe Wheeler)

Products like fake blood still had a shelf life.

“Even if you only use it once, it’s probably best to throw it away.”

While today Ms Wheeler said most party shops stock special effects and consumer make-up, it was still important to check it was safe.

“Before you go out and do anything, do some research and avoid sensitive areas like your eyes.”

And while doing makeup with a group of friends might sound like fun, Mr Wheeler cautioned against sharing brushes.

“I always make sure to properly sterilize my brushes between clients, otherwise I use disposable ones.”


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