An 11-year-old girl was left temporarily blinded by colored contact lenses, and now a her mother wants to warn others about the dangers of them.
Last year, the day after she went trick-or-treating with friends, Emilie Turcotte, of Blainville, in Montreal, Canada, woke up screaming, crying that her eyes were ‘burning like fire’ and she could not open them anymore.
Her mother, Julie, immediately rushed her to the hospital where doctors told her that the contact lenses had damaged her corneas and had infected the skin around her eyes.
Emilie’s eyesight gradually returned, but doctors warned the family that if they hadn’t come to the hospital right away, the grade schooler might have ended up permanently blind.
Emilie Turcotte, 11, of Blainville in Montreal, Canada, wore colored contact lenses last year as part of her demon costume for Halloween. The day after trick-or-treating, she woke up screaming in pain and crying that her eyes were burning. Pictured: Emilie one week after the incident, left, and two weeks after the incident, right
Doctors at the hospital said the lenses had acted like a suction cup and had torn cells away from Emilie’s corneas as well as infected the skin around her eyes. Pictured: Emilie wearing sunglasses for a month as her eyes heal
Julie told Le Journal de Montreal that she bought the lenses at Party Expert, a chain party supply store in Canada’s Quebec province, as part of her daughter’s demon costume.
Emilie wore them at school for around four hours then took them of for dinner. She put them back on to go trick-or-treating, but removed them before she went to sleep.
The next morning, she woke up screaming in agony. When Julie pried open her daughter’s eyes, she said they were ‘blood red’ and rushed her the hospital.
Doctors told Julie that the lenses had acted like suction cups around Emilie’s corneas and tore cells away from them.
She was also diagnosed with periorbital cellulitis, an infection of the eyelid and the skin around the eyes.
It occurs when bacteria enters the eye and attacks the soft tissue surrounding it.
For four days, Emilie was unable to see. She kept asking her parents if she would be permanently blind or if she could go back to school.
Julie said that she didn’t know how to respond to her daughter.
‘For four days, we were scared. She could not see anything,’ Julie told the newspaper.
‘And we thought: “All this for Halloween contact lenses”.’
Although Emile’s eyesight gradually returned, doctors told her that she had to wear sunglasses for a month so her corneas could heal.
Five friends of the elementary schooler also wore contact lenses, but did not suffer any medical problems.
Several optometrists in Canada are calling for colored contact lessons to be banned unless needed for medical purposes.
‘It is a medical product and it should be treated as such,’ Eric Poulin, president of the Quebec Association of Optometrists told Le Journal de Montreal.
‘They are sold everywhere, but they should not be.’
In Canada, corrective lenses have to be prescribed by doctors, but because colored lenses are aesthetic, they can be sold over-the-counter.
For four days, Emilie was unable to see. Her eyesight gradually returned but she had to wear sunglasses for a month as her eyes healed. Pictured: Emilie and her mom Julie, unknown date
In Canada, corrective lenses have to be prescribed by doctors, but because colored lenses are aesthetic, they can be sold over-the=counter. In the US, it is illegal to sell decorative lenses over-the-counter without a prescription. Pictured: Emilie one month after the incident
Poulin believes selling contact lenses over-the-counter is a mistake because they need to be fitted over the eye.
If they are too tight, then the lenses can act like a suction and tear cells away from the cornea – which is what happened to Emilie.
In the US, the Food and Drug Administration classifies decorative contact lenses as medical devices.
This means that federal law makes it illegal to sell decorative lenses over-the-counter without a prescription.
Optometrists say that knockoff lenses could have numerous problems such as lead in the coloring or bacteria in the saline solution.
Julie published a post on Facebook earlier this month, warning other parents about what happened to her daughter.
So far, the post has more than 540 reactions and has been shared more than 4,000 times.
‘When you lose your eyes, they cannot be replaced,’ Julie said. ‘Yes, [contact lenses] give a good disguise, but at what price?’