In recent years, Halloween costumes have expanded to include contact lenses with colors or designs like the ones shown on this page. Many of these are not FDA approved and therefore they carry several risk factors, even if they are just used one evening.
If the colored contact lenses are available without a prescription, they are not FDA approved. This means that manufacturers haven’t been held to any quality and safety standards. As a result, they can have problems including: not being sterile, not fitting properly, or scratching the cornea. If colored lenses are a must, they should only be acquired via a prescription after an appointment with your ophthalmologist.
“If you purchase colored contacts for Halloween and wear them, you are putting your eyes at risk for infection, scratches, dryness, redness, cornea scarring and even vision loss,” said Brandon Rodriguez, MD. Dr. Rodriguez is a cornea and cataract surgeon at St. Luke’s Cataract & Laser Institute. “It’s gambling with your vision, and I recommend against it.”
If the lenses are available at places like gas stations, novelty shops, beauty salons or on the Internet, this is a huge warning sign. In addition, a common misconception is that decorative lenses don’t require the same level of care or consideration as standard lenses because they are able to be found over the counter. “There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all contact,” said Dr. Rodriguez.
Here are some safety tips for those who wear contact lenses:
- Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional.
- Obtain a valid prescription.
- Purchase contact lenses from a reputable eye product retailer who requires a prescription. Ask your doctor for a recommendation if you have questions.
- Follow the contact lens care instructions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses.
- Never share contact lenses with another person.
- Get follow-up eye examinations with your doctor to ensure you maintain your eye health.
- If you do notice any symptoms of redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort from wearing contacts – remove the lenses and contact your eye doctor immediately.
For more information on colored contact lens risks, visit the American Academy of Ophthalmology.