Are you considering wearing fashion contacts as a part of your Halloween costume? Most people wouldn’t think twice about going to the store and purchasing a pair of fashion contacts. But even though it seems like a cool idea, we want to inform you about the dangers of purchasing them. They are often found in novelty stores or can be purchased online without a prescription.
Halloween Safety: Skip Fashion Contacts Without a Prescription
As Halloween approaches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to warn people that fashion contacts, also known as cosmetic contacts, without a prescription aren’t regulated or guaranteed to be safe. Wearing a pair of fashion contacts could pose harmful side effects that could cause serious injury. Keep in mind that it is illegal for novelty stores and online retailers to sell fashion contacts without a prescription.
After Laura Butler purchased a pair of cosmetic contacts that didn’t require a prescription. She wore them for 10 hours and started experiencing severe pain in both of her eyes. After a visit with an eye doctor, she quickly realized that purchasing them that it was a big mistake. Her eye doctor discovered that she had a severe eye infection, scratched cornea, along with damaged vision that will affect her for the rest of her life.
Had Laura researched fashion contacts before buying them, she would likely still have normal vision today. Before purchasing contact lenses, you should see an eye doctor for a valid prescription and be properly fitted for contacts. When you purchase prescription contact lenses, they are fitted to the shape of your eye. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to wearing contacts. They should be purchased from a licensed retailer to ensure that you receive the correct contacts for your eyes. If not, you could experience symptoms that Laura did and the contact could stick to your eye like a suction cup due to improper fit.
Don’t Buy Fashion Contacts From These Vendors
Vendors who are selling contacts illegally often use the following terms to market them to buyers: fashion, costume, or colored contacts. It is always better to purchase colored contacts including fashion or to go with your Halloween costume from a trusted ophthalmologist’s office. Here is a list of vendors that you may see selling these type of contacts and NEVER buy them:
- street vendors
- salons or beauty supply stores
- flea markets
- novelty stores
- Halloween stores
- record or video stores
- convenience stores
- beach shops
- Internet sites that do not require a prescription
Never Buy Fashion Contacts Unless You Have a Prescription
Contacts are considered a medical device and people use them mostly to improve their vision. But even if you don’t need contacts to improve your vision, ophthalmologist’s offices do carry fashion contacts that you can purchase even if you don’t need your vision corrected. Keep in mind that contacts that your ophthalmologist prescribes are regulated by the FDA.
So if you are determined to wear them this Halloween, you should book an appointment with an ophthalmologist to schedule a contact lens exam. Once you have had an eye exam you will be fitted for contacts that fit your eye shape properly.
But you should never wear contacts as a fashion statement unless you purchased them from an ophthalmologist and have a prescription. While they may seem harmless, purchasing them without a prescription could be extremely dangerous to your eye health.
Remember that vendors mentioned above who are selling fashion contacts without a prescription are breaking the law. It is illegal for vendors to sell them; however, the store owners may not know that. So if you find them at any of the vendors mentioned above, please report it to the FDA.
Dangerous Side Effects
As I already mentioned above, contacts are NOT a “one size fits all.” Contacts must be fitted to your eye shape by a licensed doctor. Once you have a prescription, then you are fitted with contacts, shown how to properly put them in, care for them, and evaluate how your eye responds to them. Contacts that aren’t made for your eye shape can cause serious damage to your eyes, including:
- scratches on the cornea (the clear dome of tissue over the iris—the part of the eye that gives you your eye color)
- corneal infection (an ulcer or sore on the cornea)
- conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- decreased vision
Don’t be tricked into thinking that fashion contacts are the rage this Halloween. Wearing fashion contact lenses could cause major damage to your eyes and leave you with long-term side effects. Never purchase novelty contacts, even if the vendor tries to convince you that they are safe to wear. Only purchase fashion lenses from a retailer that requires a written prescription.
If you must wear fashion contacts, please purchase them from a licensed retailer so that you ensure that you are receiving contacts that are approved by the FDA and properly fitted by your eye doctor. You can even find fashion lenses that do not correct your vision at any retailer who sales prescription contacts. There is no reason that you should jeopardize your vision just to make your Halloween costume look more appealing.