Oct 14, 2020 11:30 AM

Author: Moran Eye Center


Halloween contact lenses

Use Prescription Halloween Contact Lenses

An uninformed Halloween costume decision could haunt you for life. We’re talking about disguising your eyes with freaky colored contact lenses without a prescription.

Before you go down that road, here’s what you should know.

Cosmetic Contact Lenses: Why Prescription Only?

Did you know? 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). Because of the risk of bacterial infections and other potential problems from poorly fitting or contaminated lenses, you should never buy any contact lenses without a valid prescription from a licensed eye care practitioner.

It’s illegal to buy contact lenses without a prescription. Even if you don’t need any vision correction, you still need a prescription for decorative lenses that will be a good fit.  

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.

Eye Doctor’s Advice About Spooky Contact Lenses

Cosmetic lenses need to fit correctly on your cornea; otherwise, they can be dangerous.

David Meyer, OD

“Any time you place something in your eye, you are risking infection, or injury, so as a general rule, I discourage the use of cosmetic lenses altogether. Even 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,” says David Meyer, OD, director of Contact Lens Services at the John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. 

Factoid: Spooky facts about Halloween contact lenses

FDA Warnings and Website about Safety Risks of Halloween Contact Lenses

Check Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website where you can learn more and report the illegal selling of these lenses. They also warn against anime or circle lenses, saying, “don’t buy them and don’t expect your doctor to prescribe them.”

The FDA has not cleared these bigger-than-normal lenses that give the wearer a wide-eyed, doll-like look.

Poor contact lens fit can cause severe eye damage, including:

  • scratches on the cornea,
  • corneal infection (an ulcer or sore on the cornea),
  • conjunctivitis (pink eye),
  • decreased vision, and 
  • blindness.

According to the FDA, you should never buy lenses from:

  • street vendors,
  • salons or beauty supply stores,
  • boutiques,
  • flea markets,
  • novelty stores,
  • Halloween stores,
  • record or video stores,
  • convenience stores,
  • beach shops, or
  • Internet sites that do not require a prescription.

Contact Lens Hygiene: Stay Safe!

  • 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,” says Meyer. “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.”

Originally published October, 2018.


Moran Eye Center

The John A. Moran Eye Center is a world-class institution offering some of the best patient care in the country. It is a nationally ranked care center in the Mountain West centered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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