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October 16, 2019

Costume Contacts: What Could Happen? A (Seriously Gross) Deep Dive!

Recently we posted a  how-to guide on buying and wearing Halloween contacts, but what exactly happens when you throw caution to the wind and buy them without a prescription or a proper fitting? Prep yourself for the dry heaves, because as it turns out, it’s next-level nasty. As we mentioned in our  previous blog, costume contacts (aka “Halloween contacts”) are considered to be medical devices by the FDA and are therefore illegal to sell without a prescription from an eye care professional (following a comprehensiveeye exam). In other words, don’t assume they’re only cosmetic (this isn’t hair dye, people). Purchasing cheap costume contacts off the dark web might seem like a great idea when you’re looking to save some moolah, but trust me, after you see some of the pictures on this blog post you’ll be seriously questioning yourbargain-hunting choices. 

Costume Contact Lens Risks
Corneal Abrasion
Decreased Vision, Severe Pain
Corneal Ulcer
Decreased Vision, Severe Pain
Corneal Infection
Decreased Vision, Severe Pain
Decreased Vision
Corneal Hypoxia
Bloodshot Eyes
Allergic Reaction
Itchy, Watery Eyes

Costume Contacts And Corneal Abrasions

For those of us who didn’t go to optometry school, a corneal abrasion is fancy-shmancy eye doctor speak fora scratch on your cornea (your eye ball’s clear, protective outer layer). Ill-fitting costume contacts could lead to infections and cause pain, redness, tearing, discomfort, headaches and light sensitivity. See the actual! pictures below credit from  Moran Eye Center located in Utah and the  London School of Hygiene

Contact Lens Corneal Ulcer Halloween Contacts

To avoid this, visit an eye doctor who will prescribe you properly fitted lenses (“one-size-fits-all” contacts don’t actually exist). If you suspect that you have a corneal abrasion, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention to avoid a corneal ulcer (yeah, that’s as nasty as it sounds). Not sure what that is? Well, SINCE YOU ASKED…

Costume Contacts And Corneal Ulcers

A corneal ulcer is an open sore of the cornea, and they’re just as serious as they sound (we’re talking significant loss of vision or blindness). Ironically, corneal ulcers can often look like costume contacts themselves by turning the usually transparent cornea gray or white. Pretty cool if you’re trying to look like a zombie on purpose, NOT COOL AT ALL when it’s been caused by a contaminated or improperly fitted lenses. Symptoms can include, but are not limited to, itchy, watery eyes, pus-like discharge (ew), or a burning/stinging sensation, or extreme pain. The main culprit? Bacterial infections that are caused by improperly caring for your lenses, buying unprescribed lenses off the internet (or in a Halloween pop up store, for example) and/or sharing contacts with friends. If left untreated, corneal ulcers can lead to scarring and major, permanent vision loss. So, what happens if you wait too late for treatment?

Costume Contacts And Corneal Transplants

In the event that your cornea situation is totally the worst (your cornea sucks so bad that there’s no saving it), your eye doctor might recommend a corneal transplant in which the cornea is replaced with a donated, healthy cornea (this could be the entire cornea or only part of the cornea). Bear in mind, any unprescribed lenses that you buy that are not regulated by the FDA might be contaminated (not clean or incorrectly packaged) and are almost guaranteed not to not be the right size and shape. If you don’t think that people have been blinded by costume contacts,  think again.  See this video below from the FDA about the inherent dangers of costume contact lenses. 


In order to maintain  excellent eye health, there’s no cutting corners when it comes to costume contacts (or special-effects/decorative lenses of any kind). The rules are simple: no buying lenses off the internet without a proper fitting or a valid prescription, no sharing lenses, no swapping contacts for the night, and always follow an eye doctor’s instructions for wearing and caring for your lenses. Be sure to  schedule an appointment today be sure to avoid being haunted by  horrible eye health and have a happy (and safe) Halloween!