A Halloween Scare: Contact Lenses 

Dr. Russel Lazarus, November 4, 2021

Here’s one Halloween scare to avoid: Costume contact lenses. 

Costume contact lenses can alter your eyes’ look without correcting your vision. These lenses can change the color of your eyes, add your favorite team’s emblem, or provide a frightful appearance for a Halloween costume.

Costume contact lenses can cause serious and permanent eye damage.

What are costume lenses?

Also known as cosmetic or fashion lenses, costume lenses  are typically sold by businesses that don’t specialize in eye care. They’re considered just another accessory, like costume jewelry, scarves, or no-correction glasses.

Costume contact lenses , also known as cosmetic or decorative contact lenses, are contact lenses that dramatically change how your eyes look, from changing the eye’s color to adding effects such as blood, flames or bright colors.

But, costume lenses are not as innocent as they appear and can even cause permanent blindness.

Contact lenses are medical devices that require a proper lens fitting and should only be obtained with an eye doctor’s prescription.

Why are Halloween contacts dangerous?

Contact lenses that are not prescribed by an eye doctor can cut, scratch and infect your eye if they don’t fit exactly right.

All contact lenses need a complete optometrist’s examination and fitting as all contact lenses are customized to each individual.

Non-prescribed lenses can cause corneal abrasions, corneal ulcers and potentially blinding, painful bacterial infections like keratitis

Costume contact lenses also might let less oxygen through to the eye because the paints and pigments used to add color make the lenses thicker and less breathable.

Schedule a contact lens fitting with an eye doctor near you so that you can safely wear lenses this Halloween.

SEE RELATED: Purchasing Contact Lenses Online?

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Risks of wearing costume contact lenses

Unless they are properly cared for, all contact lenses have the potential to cause major ocular problems, including eye infections and scratches on your eye that can lead to vision loss.

  1. Eye infections caused by bacteria, fungus and parasites. These are more common in contact lens wearers than in non-wearers. One of these microscopic organisms can cause you to lose your central vision.
  2. Reduced oxygen. Keep in mind that a contact lens is a piece of plastic that covers the eye’s front surface and can block oxygen from reaching it. The formation of new blood vessels, redness, watery eyes, and discomfort are all signs and symptoms of an oxygen-deficient eye. Most contact lenses are safe for those who wear them according to their eye doctor’s instructions.
  3. Non-sterile storage. Costume contact lenses can also be dangerous since they are usually not stored in sterile casing. Many times these lenses arrive in non-sterile containers which have had no manufacturer’s oversight and guarantee of being free of bacteria and other serious pathogens. The suppliers of these lenses most often do not provide any storage or cleaning solutions to ensure their cleanliness going forward.
  4. There is no one-size-fits-all contact lens. Contact lenses are available in a huge variety of materials, designs, and sizes. An eye doctor is the only one who can tell you whether or not a contact lens is safe for your eyes and prescribe the best lenses for your eyes. Corneal abrasions, allergic reactions, and poor vision can all be caused by poorly fitted contact lenses.

Visit an optometrist first

Despite the risks of wearing contact lenses, costume contact lenses can be a safe and enjoyable way to dress up for Halloween or any other occasion, provided they are made by a reliable manufacturer and prescribed by an eye doctor.

If you want to wear contact lenses, always have a full eye examination by an eye doctor first. 

Your doctor will fit you with contact lenses that are safe for you to use after checking that your eyes are healthy and that you can see well. You’ll also get instructions on how to clean and care for your contacts, as well as how long you can wear them.

At the end of the exam, your doctor will offer you a prescription for contact lenses.

If you do decide to use costume contact lenses, follow your eye doctor’s instructions in order to prevent red eyes, blurred vision, pain, or light sensitivity.

LEARN MORE: Optical and Contact Lenses

If you want to wear contact lenses for any occasion, contact an eye doctor near you.

Costume contact lenses are not toys, even though they are a fun accessory to wear at certain occasions. 

If you wish to wear lenses, always get a prescription from your eye doctor first and stay away from online retailers that don’t require a prescription.