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Halloween costume contact lenses

What are costume contact lenses?

Costume contact lenses – also known as cosmetic or decorative contact lenses – are contact lenses that change how your eyes look. These contact lenses can make your eyes look different in many ways, from changing the eye’s color or pupil shape to giving cartoon or film character effects. They can be made with or without vision correction.

Are colored contacts safe?

Costume contacts can be worn safely if you see a doctor first and follow their advice. Remember that contact lenses are medical devices that require a commitment to proper wear and care by the wearer. If not used correctly, all contact lenses can increase your chance of an eye infection. The best way to ensure safety when using contact lenses is to see an eye care professional (ECP) first. After you seen your ECP and received a prescription, be sure to only buy costume contacts from retailers who require a prescription to purchase the lenses and who only sell FDA-approved contact lenses.

How can Halloween contacts be dangerous?

Packaging that claims ‘one size fits all’ or ‘no need to see an eye doctor’ is wrong. Non-prescription costume contacts can cut, scratch and infect your eye if they don’t fit exactly right. Treating these injuries can require eye surgery, like a corneal transplant, which sometimes don’t work. People have been blinded by costume contact lenses.

Why are stores and online retailers selling colored contact lenses without a prescription if it’s not safe?

These retailers are breaking the law. In the U.S., it has been illegal to sell contact lenses without a prescription since 2005. Federal law classifies all contact lenses as medical devices and restricts their distribution to licensed eye care professionals. Illegal sale of contact lenses can result in civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation. If you see contact lenses being sold by retailers not requiring a prescription, you can report the retailer to the FDA.

Illegally sold circle lenses bypass several crucial safeguards, such as a lens fitting and instructions about wear and care that are specific to you, your eyes and the contacts you are prescribed. Counterfeit lenses are common if you’re buying through an illegal outlet. Some illegal lenses have even been found to be re-packaged and can be contaminated with chemicals or germs when you receive them. If you’re buying lenses that haven’t been FDA-approved or you’re buying through a dealer who isn’t regulated by the FDA, you can’t be sure what you’re receiving. The lenses you get may not be what you ordered, they may not be clean or correctly packaged and they may not be the right size or shape for your eye to begin with. The risks aren’t worth it.

If you are interested in safe and well-fitted Halloween costume contact lenses, please call our office and schedule a visit at 720-966-2020.

(This article is courtesy of Dan T. Gudgel and reviewed by Thomas L. Steinmann, MD)