Spooky season has arrived, and nothing says Fall like bonfires, pumpkin spice lattes, crunchy leaves and creeping out your neighbors with a weird set of Halloween contacts. Whether you’re rocking cat eyes, vampire eyes, or zombie eyes, it’s important to remember that ALL contact lenses require a valid contact lens prescription from an eye doctor, so don’t even think about skipping a step and buying these bad boys off of the internet unless you want zombie eyes for real (ew).
Remember, no matter how silly it looks, all “novelty” or “special-effects” lenses are classified as medical devices by the FDA, so don’t go sticking things in your eyeballs just because it looks cool. “But I saw a store selling them over-the-counter without a prescription,” you say. Not only is that against the law, it’s also detrimental to your eye health, so maybe don’t do that. WILL NO ONE THINK OF THE EYE BALLS?! Remember, if you come across a website or a store that is taking a trip down illegal avenue, report it to the FDA immediately.
Provided you actually visit an eyecare professional and avoid purchasing your contact lenses off of a sketchy site on the interwebs, novelty lenses are just as safe to wear as regular contact lenses. An eye doctor will make sure that your lenses are properly fitted to prevent bacterial eye infections (gross), corneal ulcers (super bad) and possibly blindness (super freaking bad). Signs of a possible eye infection include redness, persistent eye pain and a decrease in vision.
A poorly fitted lens might not sound that unpleasant, but the consequences, even after one magical night of use, can be nastier than the boy’s highschool bathroom. We’re talking scratches on the cornea, pink eye, poor vision, infections, sores, and all kinds of NOPE.
It is totally illegal to purchase novelty contact lenses without a prescription in the United States, so if you see a website selling them willy nilly, put your computer down and run the other way. Some special-effects contacts can get expensive, but “budget shopping” for something you’re about to put in the only pair of eyes you’re going to get is NEVER a good idea. Also avoid buying halloween contacts at beauty stores, street vendors, convenience stores, pop-up Halloween stores, or anywhere else that doesn’t require a prescription. Bear in mind, visiting an eye doctor in person and being fitted with an uncontaminated product is the only way to be safe.
Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to wonder how exactly people can see through what appears to be an all-black novelty contact lens! So how do people wear these things without walking into walls or falling into toilets (I’m not sure how that would happen, but go with me here)? Although the lens might completely mask your regular eye color and hide the white part of your eye, the center of the lens that rests just above your pupil remains clear so you can see. VOILA! It’s basically eye doctor magic. Don’t question it, just be amazed.
As we mentioned before, the safest way to wear Halloween contacts involves a trip to the eye doctor. Sure, you can order your contacts online with a prescription, but only an eye care professional can measure each eye and properly fit your lenses so you don’t get a case of the zombie eye for real. According to the American Optometric Association, 26% of Americans who purchased novelty contact lenses did NOT have a valid prescription from an eye doctor, which explains why people sporting halloween contacts have a much greater risk of developing an eye infection. To avoid a lot of pain just for one night of spooky shenanigans, be sure to visit the eye doctor for a fitting and prescription, avoid contacts that don’t require a prescription, follow instructions for wearing and caring for your lenses, don’t swap contacts with friends for the night, and report any sort of discomfort to your eye doctor immediately. Oh, you have perfect 20/20 vision? Yeah, nobody cares and it doesn’t matter anyway- you’ll still need an eye exam and a prescription from an eye care professional. Remember, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” contact lens and a good fitting can be the difference between a fun night and a living optical nightmare.
So, are you dead-set on a pair of demon, cat or werewolf eyes? Be safe and schedule an appointment today so you can enjoy this year’s Halloween festivities without your eyes falling right out of your head (or something like that). To find out if kids can wear contact lenses safely, take a look at our recent blog about pediatric eye health. Happy Halloween!