Eye expert warns people to avoid a horror this Hallowe'en

Mr Parwez HossainA top eye expert says the Hallowe'en traditions of apple bobbing and lantern-lit walks in the dark could leave people with a different kind of treat this weekend – treatment in hospital.

Parwez Hossain, a consultant ophthalmologist at Southampton General Hospital’s eye unit, says children and adults can pick up scratches, infections and other eye injuries from the blow of hitting an apple at force when dunking their heads into a bowl of water to take a bite.

“Staff in eye casualty have seen incidents in the past on Hallowe’en of children and adults turning up with scratches on the cornea and blunt eye injury from impacts caused by apple bobbing,” he said.

“And in addition to these types of injury, there is the possibility of people contracting potentially serious corneal infections from dirty water or residue of liquids if bowls aren’t cleaned properly.”

Mr Hossain, a senior lecturer in ophthalmology at the University of Southampton, adds lanterns, night flares and glow sticks are also often the cause of dangerous but avoidable accidents.

“They may seem like innocuous objects, but we have seen people turning up with nasty corneal abrasions where they have caught the edge of a lantern on Hallowe’en or with mild ocular irritation after breaking glow sticks or night flares and suffering the effects of contents splashing into the eye.”

Staff at the eye unit are also keen to highlight the after-effects of the misuse of popular fancy dress contact lenses, with Mr Hossain urging caution in light of the continual issues he and his team see among everyday contact lens wearers.

“We already see a number of everyday issues relating to contact lens wear in general due to a lack of care and hygiene among regular users, so decorative lenses are a concern for us.

“You have people who aren’t used to wearing lenses inserting them for one or two nights a year with little understanding of the sensitivity of the eyes, so people should avoid putting any type of contact lens in without taking proper advice and guidance from an eye specialist on how to prevent infection.”

He added: “We are not telling people to avoid fun and games, but we are asking people to take a bit of extra care while enjoying themselves at Hallowe’en to ensure they avoid an unwanted trip to hospital for treatment."

Posted on Wednesday 27 October 2010