Cosplayers go to great lengths to become their characters, and this even includes changing their eye color with special contact lenses.
Unfortunately, though, many cosplayers don't know how to wear contacts safely and end up doing irreversible damage to their eyes.
Recently, a Houston cosplayer preparing for Space City Comic Con had an unfortunate incident that could blind him in one eye. While preparing for the con, his girlfriend used hairspray that ended up on his saline bottle. Although he washed his hands, he then picked up the bottle and somehow ended up using the hand touching the bottle to insert his contact lenses, which, understandably, immediately resulted in a burning sensation. In a rush to get the lenses out of his eyes, he quickly removed them, but ended up taking a piece of his eye out in the process.
That's definitely a worst-case scenario, but it's also a valuable reminder that eyes are a precious commodity and cosplayers should become more aware of how better to protect them. But don't worry, it's still safe to put on cosplay contacts, but it's important to know how to properly wear them.
Go To An Eye Doctor And Get A Prescription
This is the most important thing a cosplayer who wants custom contacts should do, but probably also the one thing that most cosplayers don't bother with. Eye exams do cost money, but it's probably cheaper to get a prescription for contacts that fit well than surgery to repair damaged eyes, right?
But why is this so important? Well, most retailers offer one-size-fits-all costume contact lenses. There's a problem with that, though: everyone's eyes are not one size. Each eye has its own base curve and diameter, and those are measurements that only an optometrist can get for you. Wearing contacts that aren't fitted properly means you're still risking damage to your eyes.
An optometrist can also show you how to properly clean and store lenses, as well as teach you how to correctly insert them and remove them. Most cosplayers who wear contacts have never worn lenses before and need this valuable information to protect their eyes.
Only Buy Contact Lenses From Reputable Sources That Require A Prescription
Sure, there are many retailers of costume contact lenses out there, and many in other countries that sell inexpensive custom lenses. But again, it's cheaper to buy a good quality pair of lenses than spend on eye surgery. Get the correct prescription and ask around: even your optometrist will probably know where you can buy lenses that won't damage your eyes.
Train Your Eyes To Wear Contacts And Don't Wear Them Too Long
You can't just put in a pair of contacts and wear them all day - it doesn't work like that. You'll have to build up to wearing them for longer periods by starting out with an hour a day and building up from there. Contacts take time to get used to, so give yourself that time.
With that being said, though, never wear costume lenses for more than the recommended amount of time (which is generally 8 hours).
Keep Your Hands And Contacts Clean
When handling contact lenses, always wash your hands first. If you touch other objects (such as a contaminated saline bottle), wash your hands again. Never put contacts in unless your hands are 100 percent clean. Even the tiniest speck of chemical or dust can irritate the eyes.
Contacts also need cleaning to keep away bacteria that can damage the eye. It's a good idea to wash contact lenses with a cleansing and disinfecting solution daily. Keep your contacts stored in a saline solution and if they sit for weeks between cons, it's also a good idea to consider an enzymatic cleanser or something like a hydrogen peroxide soaking solution before wearing them again.
Check Lenses For Wear And Tear
Before placing a lens in your eye, always check it for tears. If it has a tear, don't wear it. That could cause damage to your eyes. Yes, it sucks that you'll need new lenses, but your eyes will thank you later.
Do Not Sleep In Lenses
Never fall asleep in contact lenses. Always take them out before you go to bed. Otherwise, you'll end up having to surgically remove dried-up lenses from your eyes and this is not fun.
Take Out Uncomfortable Lenses
If, at any point, your contacts feel uncomfortable, take them out. Contacts should feel natural and shouldn't hurt or burn or feel weird. If you have any issues, take them out immediately and talk to an eye doctor if the issue persists.