It started as an impulsive buy from a souvenir shop, but 10 hours after she first put in a pair of colored contact lenses, Laura Butler of Parkersburg, W.Va., had "extreme pain in both eyes," she said. "Because I had not been properly fitted by an eye care professional, the lenses stuck to my eye like a suction cup."
Halloween is a popular time for people to use colored contact lenses to
enhance their costumes. From blood-drenched vampire eyes to glow-in-the-dark
lizard lenses, costume contacts can certainly add a spooky, eye-popping
touch. But colored contact lenses are popular year-round, not just at
In fact, it is illegal to sell colored contact lenses without a prescription
in the United States. All contact lenses are medical devices that require a
prescription and proper fitting by an eye-care professional. Retailers that
sell contacts without a prescription are breaking the law, and may be fined
$11,000 per violation. Many of the lenses found online or in beauty salons,
novelty shops or in pop-up Halloween stores are not FDA-approved and are
being sold illegally.
Never buy colored contact lenses from a retailer that does not ask for a
prescription. There is no such thing as a "one size fits all" contact lens.
Lenses that are not properly fitted may scratch the eye or cause blood
vessels to grow into the cornea. Even if you have perfect vision, you need
to get an eye exam and a prescription from an eye-care professional in order
to wear any kind of contact lens. In Butler's case, the lenses caused an
infection and left her with a corneal abrasion. "I was in severe pain and on
medication for four weeks, and couldn't see well enough to drive for eight
weeks," she said. "I now live with a corneal scar, vision damage and a
To safely wear costume contact lenses for Halloween or any time of year,
follow these guidelines:
o Get an eye exam from a licensed eye care professional
. Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens
measurements, and expiration date.
o Purchase the colored contact lenses from an eye product retailer who
asks for a prescription.
o Follow the contact lens care
directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses.
o Never share contact lenses with another person.
o Get follow up exams with your eye care provider.
If you notice redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain or discomfort
from wearing contact lenses, remove the lenses and seek immediate medical
attention from the Eagle Eye Clinic, 734-9253.
*Article as seen in AAO, 2013