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The Scary Truth About Non-Prescription Halloween Contacts


Are you looking for the perfect Halloween costume this year?

You may have considered how costume contacts can give you that finishing touch to make others say WOW.  Yellow cat eyes, fiery blood red, white-out, or walking dead zombie—these are just a few of the colors and designs that are available.

Just know this–

When buying costume contact lenses, make sure you have a valid contact lens prescription and that you buy them from a reputable location.   

Non-prescription costume contact lenses are sometimes found in beauty shops, Halloween stores, and are widely available on the Internet. They are advertised like beauty accessories or cosmetics, so many people do not give a second thought to their safety.

However, this is far from the truth.

Wearing non-prescription contact lenses can pose serious risks to your eye health and vision.

Before adding these contact lenses to your shopping bag, consider these points:

You Need An Eye Exam With Your Eye Care Professional First

Contact lenses are considered medical devices by the FDA. Even if you have perfect vision, you must have a valid prescription from a licensed eye care professional to purchase them.

In fact, non-prescription contacts lens sales are illegal in the United States.

There is no such thing as a “One Size Fits All” contact lens. Your eye doctor will take measurements to get a properly fitting contact lens—one that is neither too tight nor too loose on your eye.

Your eye doctor can tell you if you are a good candidate for contact lenses based on your history of eye allergies, dry eye, and/or recurring eye infections.

Halloween Contacts Can Be Dangerous For Your Eye Health

Non-Prescription Contacts May Scratch Your Eye                                                                                                            

Scratching the eye, also known as corneal abrasions, may occur because over-the-counter contacts have not been properly fit and measured for your eye. Corneal abrasions may cause redness, blurry vision, irritation, pain, discharge, and light sensitivity.

Contacts Increase Risk For Corneal Ulcers                                                                                                                                 

Wearing contact lenses (including misuse) increases your risk for corneal ulcers. These are painful, open sores on the transparent outer layer of the eye. If left untreated, these ulcers can cause permanent scarring, loss of vision, or blindness.

You May Be More Likely To Get Eye Infections                                                                                                               

Open sores and scratches in the eye lead to increased risk of bacterial and viral infections. Bacterial keratitis is an infection of the cornea that can lead to serious ocular problems including corneal scarring and blindness. It is most often caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

You Could Permanently Lose Your Vision                                                                                                                                

The worst case scenario resulting from wearing non-prescription costume contacts is blindness. Complications from ulcers or bacterial infections can lead to permanent scarring and require surgery to try to preserve your sight. Some have required corneal transplants.

For your safety and best interest, follow these tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology before purchasing and wearing costume contact lenses:

  • Make sure to get an eye exam from your eye doctor. He or she will measure your eyes to ensure a proper fitting and will discuss how to care for your lenses.
  • Get a valid contact lens prescription with your lens measurements and an expiration date.
  • Do not buy contact lenses from any retailer who does not ask for this prescription.
  • Do not share your contacts.
  • Practice hygienic contact lens care through proper cleaning, disinfecting, wearing, and storage.
  • Always wash your hands before putting in or taking out lenses.
  • If you experience side effects including eye redness, irritation, pain or discomfort, remove your lenses and speak with an eye care professional.

It is not too late to put your perfect Halloween costume together.                                                                       

If you would like to order decorative contact lenses, call our office today!

After an eye examination with Dr. Ashcraft, we can order these lenses for you and make your Halloween vision become a reality.

Top image by Flickr user Elmercarty used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped from original.

Colored Contact Lenses:
Corneal Ulcer:
Four Ways Over-the-Counter Contact Lenses Can Ruin Vision:
Halloween Hazard: The Hidden Dangers of Buying Decorative Contact Lenses Without a Prescription:
“Halloween contacts can be dangerous” Video: 

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