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Are Halloween Contact Lenses Safe?

Halloween decorative contact lenses are on the rise and certainly look cool, but are they safe? Many eye doctors say not really…


Wouldn’t it be cool to look like one of the Twilight vampires for Halloween with those piercing red eyes?

It’s fun to put on scary costumes for trick-or-treating and Halloween parties, but you don’t want to end up with something truly frightening — permanent damage to your eyesight.

The use of special effects or decorative Halloween contact lenses is on the rise and while you can certainly wear them safely, you need to understand the risks and requirements associated with wearing these lenses.

Read on to learn about how these contacts work, the risks associated with them and what you can do to protect your or your child’s eyes from damage caused by ill-fitting or illegally sold contact lenses.

How Do Halloween Eye Contacts Work?

Special-effect contact lenses have an opaque (non-transparent) tint to completely mask your natural eye color and are available in a wide variety of dramatic colors and designs. The center of the lens, which lies over your pupil, is clear so you can see.

Most novelty or costume contact lenses cover just the colored portion of your eyes (iris), but special-effect scleral lenses, like all-black, red, yellow or white contacts, cover both the iris and the “white” (sclera) of your eyes to create a truly haunting look.

Risks Associated with Halloween Eye Contacts

When it comes to decorative lenses, one size does not fit all. There is a misnomer that decorative lenses are safe and do not require the same level of care and consideration as prescriptive lenses. However, this is far from true. In fact, it is actually illegal to sell colored contact lenses in the United States without a prescription. If you see these lenses for sale in your local novelty shop, there are some compelling reasons not to buy them.

An optometrist must measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eyes respond to contact lenses. A poor fit can cause serious eye damage, including:

  • Corneal scratches or infections
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Decreased vision
  • Blindness

Safety Guidelines

If you are determined to wear Halloween decorative contacts, the FDA suggests following these safety guidelines:

  1. Get an eye exam from an optometrist.
  2. Get a valid prescription for the contacts. Have your eyes and lenses properly measured and verify that an expiration date exists.
  3. Follow the directions carefully. This is important for cleaning, disinfecting and learning how to put the lenses into your eyes.
  4. See your eye doctor right away if any of the following symptoms occur: redness, eye pain that does not go away after a short period of time and/or a decrease in vision.
  5. Never share contact lenses with someone else. Not only will the prescription be off, but you could wind up with conjunctivitis (pink eye).