Halloween costumes seem to have become more sophisticated since my childhood. I remember being a scarecrow in a pair of Dad's old overalls and one of his worn-out plaid shirts. Years ago it was fun to dress up in one of Grandma's cotton print dresses and a pair of too-large high heeled shoes. Costumes were old clothes we found in the closet or something made at home.
Costumes are available everywhere these days -- in all types of stores, online, and in seasonal shops. Every Halloween, concern is raised about costumes and accessories that consumers may find that are not safe choices. Goblin or ghoul, vampire or witch, poor costume choices could haunt you long after Halloween if they cause injury.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and eye care professionals are discouraging consumers from using decorative contact lenses.
Consumers are warned that buying any kind of contact lenses without an examination and a prescription from an eye care professional can cause serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss. Despite the fact that it's illegal to sell decorative contact lenses without a valid prescription, the lenses are sold on the Internet and in retail shops and salons -- particularly around Halloween.
The decorative lenses make the wearer's eyes appear to glow in the dark, create the illusion of vertical "cat eyes," or change the wearer's eye color.
Just like corrective contact lenses, decorative non-corrective lenses -- sometimes called plano, zero-powered, or non-corrective contact lenses -- are regulated by the FDA. Although illegal to be marketed as over-the-counter products, consumers can still find them. The FDA advises taking the following steps if you want decorative contacts.
* Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional, even if you feel your vision is perfect.
* Get a valid prescription that includes the brand and lens dimensions.
* Buy the lenses from an eye care professional or from a vendor who requires that you provide prescription information for the lenses.
* Follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses and visit your eye care professional for follow-up eye exams.
Other guidelines for safe Halloween costumes include making certain costumes are made of fire-retardant materials. Look for "flame resistant" on the label. If you're making a costume, use flame-resistant fabrics such as polyester or nylon.
Cumbersome costumes and blinding masks make it difficult, especially for children after dark. In place of a mask, consider using face paint or cosmetics. Apply a cold cream base and then design faces with makeup, lipstick, rouge, blush, eye shadow or clown white. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely. Eye holes of masks can be cut larger for better vision.
Be sure costumes are short enough to avoid tripping. Secure hats so they will not slip over a child's eyes. Dress children in shoes that fit. Adult shoes are not safe for trick-or-treaters. Save them for pretend play indoors.
Allow children to carry only flexible swords or other props, as anything they carry could injure them if they fall. Costumes in light or bright colors will be more visible at night.
Halloween can be a fun time for children and adults. Make safe choices and have a happy Halloween!