A POPULAR brand of novelty contact lenses have been withdrawn from sale after a Scots mum complained that they fused with her eyeballs.
Nicola Cavanagh bought a pair of “cat’s eyes” lenses to wear to a Halloween party.
But the 42-year-old from Dundee says she discovered seven hours later that they had stuck fast to both eyes.
Helped by her husband, she eventually managed to remove the £10 lenses but she was in such agony a hospital visit was necessary.
A consultant confirmed that the lenses had fused to her eye.
Yesterday (tue), the suppliers of the lenses, Smiffy’s, said they were temporarily withdrawing them from sale as a precaution while they investigate..
Nicola, a support worker at St Andrews Primary, Dundee, bought the lenses from a local fancy dress shop to go with her zombie schoolgirl Halloween costume.
The packaging describes the lenses as “one day wear”.
Nicola said her nightmare began when she tried to remove them at the end of the night.
She said: “It felt like someone was pouring bleach into my eyes. I’ve never felt pain like it.I was screaming – it was absolutely horrific. “
“It took me an hour and a half to get them out. They were fused to my eyes. I went into the bathroom and splashed water on my eyes. The pain was excruciating, it was like stabbing pains.”
Nicola said her partner went to the local ASDA and bought eye wash, but as soon as she used it she was in agony.
Helped by her husband, she eventually managed to remove the £10 lenses but she was in such pain a hospital visit was necessary.
She said a nurse had called for a specialist when she saw the damage, and she was told the contact lenses had fused to the cornea. She was prescribed pain relief, a lubricant gel to moisten the eye and drops to dilate her pupils to improve her
She said the damage now seemed to be healing but said: “It was very frightening. I couldn’t see the eye chart the consultant was showing me.”
Nicola has been off work since the incident and says her sight is so blurry she cannot read the time on her kitchen clock.
She added: “The doctors told me the lenses had ripped or damaged the top lining to the cornea. The consultant showed me the damage on a chart and he said it was quite bad. I was just panicking, I was in pain.”
Her partner escorted her from the hospital with her eyes still closed from the pain.
She went to bed when she get home but had to wake every 3-4 hours and prise her eyes open to apply drops and ointment.
Nicola said she had to wear sunglasses to keep her eyes rested: “Everything was a bit blurry the next morning. Bright lights are sore because the pupils are dilated.”
A friend, Shelley Traynor, 28, claimed it took her over an hour to remove one of the 24-hour disposable lenses, which she also says became stuck to her left eyeball.
She said: “I got the right lens out OK, but when it came to the left one it was like there was no liquid in my eye at all. It was like it became fused to my eye. There was nothing to grab onto, there was no edge. ”
The mum of two said she eventually removed the lens after soaking the eye with warm water. She added that she had followed all of the instructions on the box but her eye was left red and sore.
Dr David Allamby, a consultant eye surgeon , said: “Decorative contact lenses need to be treated in the same way as prescription lenses, with thorough guidance on how to put them in and follow-up care. It’s quite shocking that you can just pick these things up on the internet or in a fancy dress shop with no advice or afterthought.”
A spokeswoman for Liverpool-based Smiffy’s, which sells fancy dress online as well as supplying retailers, said they were taking the complaint seriously.
The spokeswoman said they were “sorry to hear that Nicola Cavanagh experienced this level of discomfort”.
She added: “However, as we do not manufacture the eye accessories we are working with our supplier and everyone involved to establish exactly what has happened. Whilst this investigation is being carried out we have blocked sales of the product in question as a precaution.
“We would like to reassure customers and consumers that all Smiffys products including the eye accessories go through testing procedures and the supplier that we purchase from is fully FDA approved.
“We would also like to add that we issue instructions with all of our eye accessories which are in keeping with the Opticians Act 1989, clearly stating, ‘It is recommended that you consult your eyecare practitioner to ensure suitability’.”
“It also includes how to safely and hygienically insert and remove the product.”
Smiffy’s – which has been established for 120 years – said they were not aware of any other complaints.
David Farry, manager of Yvonne’s fancy dress shop in Dundee which sold the contact lenses, said he had withdrawn them from sale.
He said: “I’m really concerned and we’e contacted the manufacturers. I’m confused as to how it happened – I hope Nicola is OK. I used the contact lenses myself at the weekend and I was fine.”