Halloween 2023: Color Contact Lenses Are Medical Devices

Halloween, Color Contact Lenses, And The Risks

It’s that time of year again, and with Halloween 2023 just weeks away, it’s important to ensure optimum eye safety while enjoying the festivities. The American Academy of Ophthalmology is urging the public to be aware of the potential risks associated with wearing costume contact lenses. These non-prescription lenses, sold illegally as cosmetic accessories, can pose serious dangers to eye health. They may not be sterile and can cause various problems, such as eye infections and scratched corneas, which can ultimately lead to blindness. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the hazards of wearing such lenses, as what seems like a harmless Halloween accessory can quickly turn into a nightmare.

The FDA classifies colored customer contact lenses as medical devices. Untested and uncertified color contact lenses, if worn, can pose serious risks, such as minor irritations, severe eye infections, and even potential vision loss. It is important to note that children’s colored costume contact lenses must be properly fitted by a licensed eye doctor who is trained to do so. Otherwise, there is a potential for eye infections, scratched corneas, and even blindness linked to colored costume contact lenses. There is no recommended age at which doctors suggest allowing children to wear colored contacts. It is a decision that should be made by the parent and the child.

The FDA classifies all contact lenses as medical devices, and they have approved colored contact lenses for Halloween. Therefore, by law, it is illegal to sell any contact lenses without a prescription in the United States. During Halloween, individuals can purchase color contact lenses online, in novelty shops, beauty salons, and in Halloween stores. It is important to note that any contact lenses sold without a prescription are breaking the law, and those who violate the law may face fines.

Color Costume Contact Lenses

It is important to remember that there are no exceptions to the law when it comes to contact lenses. Even if you have perfect vision, you must visit an eye care professional to get an eye exam and prescription before you can use contact lenses. This is also applicable to color contact lenses for Halloween. A proper examination guarantees that the lens fits well and is the right fit for your eye. Poorly fitting lenses can be difficult to put on and take off and can cause serious harm.

However, many retailers are violating the law. In the U.S., since 2005, it has been illegal to sell contact lenses without a prescription. The federal law classifies all contact lenses as medical devices and restricts their distribution to licensed eye care professionals. The illegal sale of contact lenses can lead to civil penalties of up to $16,000 per violation. If you see or believe that a retailer is selling contact lenses without a prescription, contact the FDA and report the retailer.

Illegally Sold Contact Lenses And The Consequences (American Academy of Ophthalmology)

  • Illegally sold circle lenses bypass several crucial safeguards
  • No instructions and training on lens fitting, wear, and care that is specific to you, your eyes, and the contacts you are prescribed.
  • Counterfeit lenses are common if you’re buying through an illegal outlet
  • Some illegal lenses have even been found to be re-packaged and can be contaminated with chemicals or germs when you receive them.
  • If the retailer or seller is not approved/regulated by the FDA there is no guarantee that the lenses meet the FDA quality requirements; not clear, fit properly, and are the correct size, or shape for your eyes.

Risks Associated With Colored Contact 

  • Increase the odds of eye and corneal infections
  • Scratches on the cornea
  • Infection
  • Pink Eye
  • Possible allergic reactions
  • Vision impairment
  • Potential blindness
  • It can slide around on the eye and can impair vision

Tips To Help You With Reducing The Risk Associated With Wear Colored Costume Contact Lenses (American Academy of Ophthalmology)

  • Get an eye exam from an eye care professional such as an ophthalmologist, or an eye medical doctor who will measure each eye and talk to you about proper contact lens care
  • Obtain a valid prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurements, and expiration date.
  • Purchase the colored contact lenses from a retailer who asks for a prescription
  • Follow the contact lens care directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses
  • Never share contact lenses with another person.
  • Get follow-up exams as directed by your eye care provider.

Contact our office if you experience issues like redness, swelling, excessive discharge, pain, or discomfort due to contact lenses you must remove them immediately and contact your ophthalmologist immediately. This is important because eye infections can become serious in a short period and the impact may be irreversible.


Southshore Optometric
202 Broadway
Amityville, NY 11701

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