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Optical Express reveals five out of six Halloween contact lens brands fail basic safety tests

Five in six leading brands of novelty contact lenses have failed to meet basic quality and safety tests in testing by Optical Express.

The six brands tested were Eye Spy, EDIT iGlow, ColouVue Crazy Lenses, EDIT Big Circle Eyes, Mesmereyes and high street unbranded lenses*. The contact lenses tested range from £12.99 - £15.99 in price.

Only ColourVue lenses received an overall ‘pass’, scoring nine out of 10 in the tests – all of the rest failed basic quality and safety tests including quality of fit, wearer comfort and quality of vision.

Novelty contact lenses, made popular by celebrities including Michelle Keegan at this year’s BRIT awards, are commonly worn for fancy dress occasions such as Halloween.

Although it is illegal for non-prescription lenses to be sold or supplied in Britain without the supervision of a registered optometrist or qualified dispensing optician – they are still alarmingly easy to purchase online and in high street stores, such as fancy dress shops and market stalls.

The experiment against six different safety criteria:

  • Packaging – inclusion of Instructions For Use, Specifications and CE Markings

  • Fit - Decision of clinician on the suitability of the contact lens for the patient

  • Wearer comfort - on insertion of the lens, based on patient feedback

  • Vision - on insertion of the lens, based on patient feedback

  • Recommendation to dispense - would the clinician recommend the patient wears the lens

Two Optical Express optometrists conducted the tests with two volunteer patients at clinics in Glasgow and Liverpool.

Results overview:

  • 1) Eye Spy – Failed on wearer comfort and overall recommendation to dispense – score: 6 / 10

  • 2) EDIT iGlow – failed on fit, wearer comfort, vision and recommendation to dispense – score: 2 / 10

  • 3) ColouVue Crazy Lenses – Passed nine in 10 tests, failed on recommendation to dispense due to variable vision depending on where lens sat in relation to the pupil – score: 9/10

  • 4) EDIT Big Circle Eyes - Failed on fit, wearer comfort, vision and recommendation to dispense, with comments including that the wearer ‘could not wear them for long’ due to discomfort – score: 2 / 10

  • 5) Mesmereyes – Failed every test, including packaging, fit, wearer comfort, vision and recommendation to dispense – score: 0 / 10

  • 6) High street unbranded lenses* – Failed on packaging, fit, wearer comfort and recommendation to dispense

Stephen Hannan, Clinical Services Director at Optical Express commented: “The results of our simple quality and safety tests are extremely concerning. Although eye care providers and organisations have taken steps to warn the public of the devastating risks of novelty contact lenses – the industry is still alarmingly unregulated, despite the fact it is now against the law to sell contact lenses without a qualified eyecare professional onsite.

“The quality of these lenses are clearly not up to scratch, and they shouldn’t be available to purchase as easily as they are. Patients are being put at risk”