OK to fantasy contact lenses, but always under the supervision of an ophthalmologist - Instituto Oftalmológico Fernández-Vega
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Each eye has a different shape and not every eye is a good candidate for wearing contact lenses. The first thing that must to be done is to go to the ophthalmologist who will assess if we can use them; subsequently, an optician will adapt the shape, curva

“Lets celebrate a Carnival that is both fun and safe for our eyes”. So firm is the opinion of Dr Miguel Naveira, specialist at Instituto Oftalmológico Fernández-Vega, upon the arrival of one of the festivities with the largest tradition in many Spanish cities, one in which masks and costumes fill the streets for a few days.

It is precisely in order to bring as much realism as possible to these costumes that more and more people use fantasy contact lenses to change the image or the colour of their eyes. “This can be very appealing, but it is paramount that it is done correctly, as, on the contrary, many and very serious risks are being taken”, observes Dr Naveiras. “Each eye has a different shape and not every eye is a good candidate for wearing contact lenses. Thus, the first thing that must to be done is to go to the ophthalmologist who will assess if our eye is a good candidate for using contact lenses. Subsequently, an optician will adapt the shape, curvature, material of the contact lens etc., to our eye, something which is done in just 2-3 visits”, explains the specialist. The process is even easier for those who already use contact lenses: “They only need to go to their optician’s shop or to their ophthalmological centre and, as we already have the size and type of lens they use, we can order the equivalent of that contact lens in its fantasy version”.

If we do not do so, “the contact lens might scrape our eye producing from keratitis to corneal injuries with very severe potential consequences”, warns Dr Naveiras. Keratitis is the most common complication and in general terms is manifested with severe pain and the feeling of having a small stone in the eye. Furthermore, the patient is very much disturbed by light. “If this happens, the use of the contact lenses must be discontinued immediately and artificial tears must be used”, he recommends. “If pain occurs, it is very likely that you have an injury and it is therefore paramount that you go quickly to the ophthalmologist, because if that open skin gets infected it can cause very severe corneal infection, even resulting in the loss of an eye”.

Dr Naveiras states that it is paramount to acquire these sanitary products in specialised centres, such as optician’s shops and ophthalmology centres, and avoid buying through the Internet or to unreliable suppliers whose products “have no CE marking or come from countries in which, for example, we cannot know which materials have been used or if the dyes that they have used are toxic for the eyes”.

With regards to the use and maintenance of fantasy contact lenses, and even though they are usually used for short periods of time, the physician explains that one should follow the same recommendations as with those contact lenses used to correct a visual imperfection. “That is to say, we must not use them for over 12 hours per day, we must wash our hands before using them and clean them with a one-time solution, avoiding running water or saliva”.

Face paint, eyeliners and eye shadows

Dr Naveiras also recommends being very careful with the cosmetics (face paint, eyeliners and eye shadows) used. “It is very easy to acquire make-up from uncertain origin containing lead or noxious agents that generate many allergies and may cause eye complications. How can we know? Red eyes, red and possibly swelled eyelids… If we start having problems to breath, it is essential to go immediately to the hospital”, explains the expert, at the same time as he recommends avoiding make-up from getting into one’s eyes and to always use well-known brands or those found at the chemist’s shop”.

Lastly, the expert reminds us that one must never point sprays or similar products towards the eyes. “A direct traumatism in the eyes can cause irreversible injuries”, he concludes.