It’s getting to be that time of year again. Time for dressing up, trick or treating, and parents picking out their favorite candies from their kids’ candy haul. But for eye doctors, it’s that time of year where we start getting phone calls from people wanting to know about crazy contact lenses for Halloween. Most callers don’t realize that we have to give them a full eye exam and evaluate their eyes for contact lens wear, which is a separate exam all together from the traditional “routine” eye exam for glasses. Many callers get upset at the idea and more often than not will hang up and go to the local flea market or nail salon to get the lenses anyway.
But what most people don’t realize is that there are very serious risks that they take by doing this. And most people won’t fall victim to these risks, but it’s the unlucky few who have the worst stories to tell.
Contact Lens Nightmare
I’d like to share the story of my Aunt Missy, who back in Halloween of 2011, put in her regular contacts (multifocal clear, not Halloween lenses) because zombies look scarier when they don’t wear their glasses. It really turned in to a nightmare of a story for her and her family. In her words:
“On Halloween 2011, I wore my contacts because I normally wore glasses and I was a zombie and did not want glasses on. They were stored in my contact lens case and I did not clean out the solution before putting them in that day. It had been at least a month since I had worn them.
A few days later I woke up with a burning, itchy, bloodshot right eye. I went to my optometrist thinking I had pink eye. He gave me antibiotic drops for bacterial infection and said come back in two days. Went back and there was no improvement. After that exam he seemed a little panicked, went quickly down the hall “to make a call”….he came back with a appointment for me at the Eye Institute of Corpus Christi, referring me to the cornea specialist there for Monday.
After an exam with Dr. Chris Majka, I was given drops for fungal &/or viral infection. I went to him for 45 days straight, everyday! And, yes, paying my $35 copay each time. A series of drops was prescribed to be taken around the clock, meaning 24 hours a day, some from a compound pharmacy containing swimming pool fungal killer at $100 a bottle, (not covered by insurance) some from the regular pharmacy. A culture was taken and it returned as fungal infection (they did not know what type, apparently it was rare) and I was given a choice to go to UT Health Science Center in San Antonio or BAYLOR HOUSTON to see the eye specialists there.
I was exhausted, my family was exhausted…my husband had to take leave from work to help me during the day and my daughter did the night shift (I had a strict schedule for drops & did not sleep much, nor did they). ( As you know, you have to let each drop ‘dry’ before you can drop another to be effective.) We had to set a timer.
I was in horrible pain and some of the drops burned so bad and would congeal thick white mucous, I would be in tears (no pun)ha. And the headache and burning in my sinuses and throat from the drops was constant and something I could not believe. Only the right side of my face was burning, so I knew it was the drops, even though the doctors said it was not. They even wondered if I had shingles. Ended up going to Baylor Eye Center in Houston (3.5 hours away) Then surgery was scheduled at Methodist Hospital on December 20, 2011 for a cornea transplant.”
The story of Halloween contact lenses and that right eye don’t end there. More complications were still to come…