You may be tempted to spruce up your Halloween costume this year with decorative contact lenses—say, you’re dressing up as some kind of dragon-slaying ice zombie, or the kind of monstrous clown that hangs out in storm drains. But be warned: While decorative lenses may add a bit of extra oomph to your Halloween look, those purchased from a source unregulated by opticians (like the ones you buy online, or from a costume store) can do serious damage to your eyes.
“Beauty salons and costume shops can’t conduct comprehensive eye exams, and contact lenses not properly fitted to your eye won’t just be uncomfortable—they can also cause serious injury that may lead to irreversible sight loss,” explains Christopher Quinn, O.D., president of the American Optometric Association. “Some of the lenses sold illegally might also be counterfeit, which could result in serious infection.”
We’ve written before about these infections, and trust us: They’re not pretty. Quinn also warns about the dangers of sharing such contact lenses, which spreads bacteria and germs (not to mention the likelihood of falling asleep with your lenses in if you’re not used to wearing them—more on that here).
Rather than snagging decorative lenses at your local Halloween pop up, Quinn recommends paying an optometrist a visit to acquire them: “Some doctors may have [decorative lenses] in their offices, and some may not,” he says. “But patients should always work with their doctor to find a pair of decorative lenses that’s right for them, even if they have 20/20 vision.”
In short, if you’re in the market for decorative contact lenses, ask your doctor what they recommend, because you won’t be able to enjoy your spooky lenses if you can’t even see them.