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Halloween Contact Lenses: Are they worth the risk?

Costume contact lenses – also known as cosmetic or decorative contact lenses – are any type of contact lenses that are meant to change the appearance of your eyes. They include colored contacts, fashion lenses and lenses that can make your eyes look like vampires, animals or other characters.

Websites often advertise colored contacts as if they were cosmetics, fashion accessories or toys. With whimsical packaging and names, their targets are often teens and young adults.

The truth: claims such as “one size fits all” and “no need to see an eye specialist” are misleading. Non-prescription contact lens sales are illegal.

What’s wrong with costume contact lenses?

Contact lenses should not be thought of as fashion accessories or makeup – they are medical devices that require a prescription from an eye care professional. The eyes are one of the most delicate and important parts of the body, so what you put in and on them must be medically safe and FDA-approved.

What damage can costume contact lenses cause?

Non-prescription costume contacts can cause injuries such as cuts and open sores in the protective layer of the iris and pupil (corneal abrasions and corneal ulcers) and potentially blinding painful bacterial infections (keratitis). These injuries can require serious eye surgeries such as corneal transplants, and in some cases lead to permanent vision loss.

Why are stores and online retailers selling costume contact lenses without a prescription if it’s not safe?

Although the practice has been illegal since 2005, today cosmetic contact lenses are still sold in shops and via online retailers to customers who are unaware that wearing these devices can result in serious eye injuries. Federal law classifies all contact lenses as medical devices and restricts their distribution to licensed eye care professionals. Illegal sale of contact lenses can result in civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation.

So be safe this Halloween and trust the health of your eyes to our doctors at Greencastle Eye Care Center.  Call 717-597-7708 today to schedule an appointment.  We are always accepting new patients.