More than 179 million Americans are expected to enjoy Halloween festivities this year, scaring up over $9 billion on holiday-related purchases, according to the National Retail Federation. But dressing up in your favorite costume can be a nightmare for your eyes. Makeup, decorative contact lenses and props can cause temporary discomfort or even long-term damage. Take simple precautions by reading labels and doing a little research before purchasing costumes and accessories.
With makeup and face paint being common aspects of many costumes, it’s important to be careful when applying any product around your eyes. The Food and Drug Administration advises consumers to inspect packaging closely to make sure products are hypoallergenic and that any color additives are FDA-approved for use on or near the eyes (find list at fda.gov). If makeup or face paint gets into your eyes, flush out with cool water.
Decorative, nonprescription contact lenses are another popular choice during the Halloween season, but experts only recommend using contacts prescribed by an eye care professional. Contacts from party supply and costume stores may contain low quality plastic and toxic dyes. Contacts need to be fitted, cleaned and used properly to prevent serious infections that can lead to blindness. An eye care professional will make sure to provide you with the necessary instructions for use and care.
Accessories and props are often the last touch for many costumes, but you should steer clear of anything that is sharp and pointed—especially for children. All props should be made of soft or flexible materials, which helps to decrease the risk of accidents. Also, watch out for sharp edges on masks and hats.
Good visibility while in costume is a very important, but often overlooked, safety issue. Masks, hats and other accessories should fit properly so that they don’t block your vision. Families and children trick-or-treating at night should use flashers or reflective tape to increase visibility for passing motorists.
Persistent or serious eye injuries should be seen by a doctor immediately. With just a few precautions, you can enjoy this Halloween and minimize irritating or damaging your eyes.