Having a Vision Wise Halloween

Halloween may be the most stress free, fun holiday we have. In spite of its origins, steeped in pagan harvest festivals and honouring the dead, Halloween has turned into a fun night involving children dressing up in costumes, varying from scary to funny, and going door to door begging for candy. Adults even get in on the fun by going out to parties and dances that often involve a contest for the best, scariest and most original costume. But it isn’t always just fun and games. Halloween comes with its own dangers. Some people have been known to put unhealthy substances in the candy they hand out, so parents have to be sure to go through the candy their kids bring home, throwing out anything that looks suspicious. On October 31st it gets dark early so visibility is poor, and there may be rain or snow to deal with, so walking outside may be challenging. But what about the costumes themselves? Have you safety proofed them? Are you aware that some costumes, masks and accessories could be dangerous to your child’s vision, or even your own if you dress up for Halloween?

Vision Restrictions in Masks and Costumes

When it comes to vision, masks tend to be the most obvious villain. Many of them severely restrict vision, making walking or running (your children don’t run from house to house do they?) dangerous. If you or your child will be wearing a mask, make sure that the eyeholes are large enough, even if you have to enlarge them yourself with a pair of scissors. Some masks feature one way vision, which appear to be an improvement over eye holes, until you get outside and realize that they do not work well in darkness. It may be a good idea to remove your mask when travelling from location to location. Other items to watch out for are eye patches, wigs, head scarves or large hats. Oversized costumes with broad shoulders, high collars or capes may also restrict vision, in addition to creating a tripping risk.

Is Make Up a Good Solution for the Vision Restriction of Masks?

Make up can be a good replacement for masks. However, it comes with its own vision risks. Costume make up is usually heavier than regular make up, and much of it is cheaply made, making it potentially irritating to skin and eyes. Often it tends to run when you begin to sweat. Buying the cheapest on the market may not be the best way to go, so when it comes to safety spend a bit more and try to find a hypo-allergenic variety. Test it on a small portion of skin to see if there is a negative reaction before putting it all over your child’s or your own face and skin. Be careful not to get too close to the eyes when applying it. Reused or shared make up increases the risk of infection, especially to the eyes, so buy fresh make up every year and don’t share it with others. Make sure to remove it completely at the end of the night to prevent it from getting in your eyes when you are asleep.

What About Costume Contact Lenses?

In the last few years, decorative contact lenses have been a popular accessory to set off that perfect costume. Whether it is blood-red, blazing yellow, cat’s eyes, or oversized doll’s eyes, designed contact lenses can be just the final touch that you are looking for. Just remember that contact lenses should be purchased and fitted by a professional optometrist, even if you don’t wear corrective lenses. Improper fitting of contact lenses can lead to anything from a scratched or abraded eye ball, to infection, corneal ulcers and potentially even vision loss. So if you want that perfect eye accessory, make sure that you get it properly, through a licensed optometrist. It may cost more, but in the long run it will save you a lot more than money.

Are There other Costume Accessories That Could Affect Vision?

When accessorizing your costume, be sure to be aware of the potential dangers of items like swords, knives, pitch forks, canes, brooms, magic wands, etc. Long false fingernails can even be a risk, especially for small children. The old adage, “you’ll put your eye out,” is truer than you may think, and there are a number of accidents caused annually by pointy items being carried, mostly by excited running children, but even by adults who should know better but are having too good a time to think clearly. So plan carefully, use some common sense, and have a safe and happy Halloween.