Home Education Be careful where you buy Halloween contact lenses!

Be careful where you buy Halloween contact lenses!

American Academy of Ophthalmology is warning about the risks associated with decorative Halloween contact lenses.


The American Academy of Ophthalmology is working with its partners the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS), and the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists (CLAO).

The Academy’s EyeSmart® public education program works to educate the public about the importance of eye health and to empower them to preserve their healthy vision.

The consumers have to be aware that using contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from a licensed eye care professional can cause severe eye disorders, infections, and even vision loss.


All contact lenses are medical devices that require a prescription and proper fitting by an eye care professional (ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians).


Even if you have a perfect vision, you still need to get an eye exam and a prescription in order to wear cosmetic contact lenses.

Most people believe that decorative lenses don’t require the same level of care or consideration as corrective contact lenses because they can be purchased over-the-counter or on the Internet. This is far from the truth. In fact, permanent eye damage can occur from using over-the-counter lenses. We want to discourage all consumers, especially teens, from buying contact lenses in beauty salons, novelty shops or in Halloween stores,” said Thomas Steinemann, MD, professor of ophthalmology, MetroHealth Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

Consumers need to know that permanent eye damage can occur from using non-prescription circle lenses. Personally, I have seen far too many serious cases in both children and adults from using decorative lenses. My most recent case was a girl who was only 12 years old,” he said.


Halloween contact lenses are available in various colors and designs.


Halloween contact lenses are available in varied colors and designs.

Halloween contact lenses are available in varied colors and designs.


Decorative lenses are soft lenses, they can complete a ghoulish or fantasy-like look. Blood-drenched vampire eyes (Twilight movie series), glow-in-the-dark lizard lenses, bright-colored contacts that show up best under a black light, sci-fi contacts (Avatar), anime contacts, Dolly Eyes, or circle lenses are cool and trendy options.

The Halloween looks can include Wild Eyes (CIBA Vision), cat-eyes, zombie or glow-in-the-dark eyes, fantasy lens (Marietta Vision’s Mad Hatter style from the movie Alice in Wonderland), gothic (all-red, all-black and other scary designs) and special-effect contacts, even blind contact lenses (they are completely white and opaque).


Richie Hawtin wearing blind contacts.

Richie Hawtin wearing blind contacts.


While the price of lots of special-effect contact lenses is comparable to conventional color contacts, some gothic, crazy or FX contact lenses are hand-painted and custom made and cost more. So do the scleral costume lenses, which cover the entire visible area of your eye and make you look like an insect. Check with your eye care professional to see if the costume contact lenses you are interested in are covered by your insurance plan.

Circle lenses cover a bigger area of the eye than regular contact lenses. The iris appears bigger and the wearer has a doe-eyed, Anime, look. In Asia (Korea, Japan), there’s a subculture that mimics the Ulzzang look of Anime figures (cartoon).


Circle lenses: before and after they were put into the eyes (Anime look).

Circle lenses: before and after they were put into the eyes (Anime look).


What you should know before buying decorative contact lenses?


1. The persons with following conditions cannot wear contact lenses: frequent eye infections, severe allergies, dry eye that is resistant to treatment, a very dusty work environment, or an inability to handle and care for the lenses.

2. Obtaining decorative lenses including colored contacts and novelty or costume lenses without a prescription is dangerous. Using any contacts obtained without an eye exam and prescription can lead to serious eye disorders and eye infections, even blindness. Circle lenses are not FDA-approved. In 2005, a federal law classified all contact lenses as medical devices and restricted their distribution to licensed eye care professionals. Illegal sale of contacts can result in civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. Consumers should only buy decorative contact lenses from an eye care professional or a seller who asks for a prescription.

3. You need to see an eye care professional (an ophthalmologist or optometrist) to get your eyes measured in order to properly fit the contact lenses. Lenses that are not properly fitted may scratch the eye, cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea (the clear covering of the front of the eye), blur the cornea and lead to vision impairment or vision loss.


Where to buy Halloween contact lenses?


1. You can buy special-effect contact lenses from the eye care practitioner who prescribes them for you; or you can ask for a copy of your prescription and buy them elsewhere.

2. Buy your decorative contact lenses from an authorized source. Look for instructions regarding how to wear and how to clean them. The package has to be sealed and sterile.

3. Do not buy decorative contact lenses at any store that doesn’t ask you for a valid contact lenses prescription. You might get unsafe products not FDA-approved, products that may have been manufactured improperly or don’t have sterile packaging. Even wearing FDA-approved lenses can be dangerous, if they do not fit to your eyes. Poor-fitting contact lenses are a discomfort, cause serious sight problems, abrasions and infections, so the prescription is needed.


How to wear decorative contact lenses?


1. Wash your hands with unscented soap and warm water before you put the contact lenses into your eyes and follow the eye care professional or the product care instructions.

2. Special-effect, decorative,  cosmetic, or circle lenses generally are designed for daily wear only and are not FDA-approved to be wear while you are sleeping. Wash your hands and take off your contact lenses before you go to sleep.

3. Do not borrow your friend contact lenses and do not lend yours to your friend.

4. Clean, disinfect and care for contact lenses as directed by the eye care professional. Contacts lenses that are not cleaned and disinfected properly can cause painful and severe infections, or lead to vision loss.

5. See your eye care medical doctor (ophthalmologist) for routine exams to monitor the health of your eyes.

For more information about eyes health and contact lenses please visit: www.geteyesmart.org, www.aapos.org, www.clao.org.


How to Put in and Remove Contact Lenses (video)

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Halloween Contact Lenses Can Be Scary for Your Eye Health (video)

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Contact Lenses: No Prescription, No Way (video)

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