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Halloween Contact Lenses, Beware!

If you’re thinking about disguising your eyes this Halloween, beware! The consequences of using non-prescription, over-the-counter or mail-order costume contact lenses could be truly frightening.

"Any time you place something in your eye, you are risking infection or injury," says David Meyer, OD, director of Contact Lens Services at the John A. Moran Eye Center. "As a general rule, I discourage the use of cosmetic lenses altogether. If a patient really wants them and is willing to get a proper fitting and accurate prescription, I am only OK with them being worn temporarily."  

Cosmetic Lens Risks

Contact lenses of any type are medical devices that sit directly on the cornea (the clear dome of tissue over the iris—the part of the eye that gives you your eye color). 

Here’s what Meyer and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) want you to know about the risks:

  1. Never buy any contact lenses without a valid prescription from a licensed eye care practitioner.
  2. The chance of bacterial infections increases.
  3. Poor contact lens fit can causes severe eye damage, including scratches on the cornea, corneal infection (an ulcer or sore on the cornea), conjunctivitis (pink eye), decreased vision, and blindness.

If you decide to disguise your eyes, buy only from eye care professionals or retailers requiring a prescription and sell FDA-approved lenses. 

Vendors who sell cosmetic or special-effect lenses as a type of accessory or jewelry without asking for a prescription are breaking the law and endangering your eyesight.

Contact Lens Hygiene

Follow these tips to ensure proper care of your eyes:

  • Follow care and cleaning instructions thoroughly when wearing any contact lenses.
  • Make sure to disinfect lenses before placing them in your eye and make sure you are placing them in your eye with clean hands.
  • Be sure to only clean your lenses with a solution designed for this purpose. Cleaning them with water—or in your mouth—could lead to big problems.

"If your eyes start burning or itching while wearing your lenses, take them out immediately," Meyer says. “See your eye doctor if you notice any pain, blurry vision, or discharge. Causing damage to your eyes for the sake of a costume is much scarier than any Halloween fright."