Costume contacts, also referred to as FX contact lenses or theatrical lenses, describe any contact lens that changes how your eye looks, from red lenses to cat eyes. You may think these accessories will complete your Halloween outfit (and help you win that costume contest). But costume contacts are still contacts – and should be viewed as medical devices.
While fun, costume contacts can be scary if used improperly or purchased from an unlicensed vendor. Even though it’s illegal to sell contact lenses without a prescription, they can still be found online and in beauty shops, tricking consumers into thinking they’re safe to wear.
Some of the risks of using over the counter costume contacts include corneal ulcers, corneal abrasions, eye infections such as keratitis, and even blindness.
We hear horror stories every year of what can go wrong when costume contacts are misused. This teen was left partially blind, and Julian has required multiple surgeries on his eyes over the past three years.
If you’re planning on wearing costume contacts this Halloween, avoid harming your eyes by following these steps:
- Schedule an eye exam with your doctor. Yes, even if you have a prescription for another brand of contacts or don’t wear contacts/glasses.
- Receive a prescription (includes brand name, measurements, and expiration date).
- Purchase costume contacts from a retailer that carries FDA approved lenses and asks for a prescription.
- Clean and wear contact lenses properly.
- Do not share contact lenses or sleep in lenses.
Wearing contacts that haven’t been prescribed for you can quickly become a nightmare. Always protect your eyes, even when you’re pretending to be someone (or something) else.