Halloween, historically, is known as a time to remember the dead. In the United States it is celebrated with costumes, trick-or-treating, festivals, decorating, and pumpkin carving.
Halloween is also a popular time for people to use colored contact lenses to enhance their costumes. From blood-drenched vampire eyes to glow-in-the-dark lizard lenses, costume contacts can certainly add a spooky, eye-popping touch. But beware! Make sure that your eye accessories are a treat and not a trick causing you eye issues in the future!
What to know before buying colored contacted lenses
- Never buy colored contact lenses from a retailer that does not ask for a prescription. There is no such thing as a “one size fits all” contact lens. Lenses that are not properly fitted may scratch your eye or cause permanent damage.
- Don’t buy them over the counter without a prescription. Contacts are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Places that sell them without a prescription are breaking the law!
- Even if you have perfect vision, get an eye exam from a licensed eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) for your costume contacts. An eye doctor must also measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eye will respond to wearing contacts.
- Obtain a prescription from your doctor that includes the brand name, lens measurements and expiration date. Buy the lenses from a seller that requires you to provide a prescription, whether you go in person or shop online.
- Follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses, and visit your eye doctor for follow-up eye exams.
- Never share contact lenses with another person.
- If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist.
- Places that sell decorative lenses without a prescription may give you few or no instructions on how to clean and care for your lenses.
Risks associated with buying colored contact lenses
If you buy decorative contacts without a prescription, a poor fit can cause the following:
- Scratches on the cornea or permanent damage
- Corneal infection
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Decreased vision
You should never buy lenses from:
- Street vendors
- Salons or beauty supply stores
- Flea markets
- Novelty stores
- Halloween stores
- Record or video stores
- Convenience stores
- Beach shops
- Internet (unless the site requires a prescription)
These are not authorized distributors of contact lenses, which are prescription devices by federal law.
Additional Safety tips
- Avoid costumes that block visibility: Most Halloween accessories such as masks and eye patches are a lot of fun, but can block visibility. A safer option would be hypo-allergenic make-up.
- Carry a flashlight: When out trick-or-treating, make sure you have a flashlight. You’re not only visible to cars, but you can light dark pathways and avoid holes in yards.
- Make sure costumes are reflective: If your child’s costume is not reflective, sew or Velcro reflective tape on it. This way they can be seen crossing streets.
Doctor Gregg Feinerman is a world-renowned eye surgeon based in Newport Beach, California. As an Orange County eye surgeon, he specializes in LASIK vision correction and cataract surgeries. He and his friendly, knowledgeable staff are available to help you achieve your optimal eye health needs at Feinerman Vision Center.