Halloween is usually more fun than scary. But the risks of novelty contact lenses – the kind you buy with no prescription – are truly frightening. “No prescription” novelty contact lenses are also called cosmetic contact lenses, Halloween contact lenses, fashion contact lenses or theater lenses.

Are novelty contact lenses really dangerous?

Not with a prescription. There’s a safe way to get novelty contacts: see an eye doctor for a complete examination. The doctor will make sure your eyes are healthy enough for contacts and prescribe the right fit. Then you can buy lenses through the doctor’s office or from a legitimate vendor of FDA-approved contacts.

Your doctor will also give you instructions on caring for your contacts, so you can wear them without fear.

The dangers of no-prescription novelty contacts

There are two major reasons you should avoid non-prescription contacts like a graveyard after midnight:

  • Non-prescription lenses are not fitted to your eyes. Contact lenses are not sweaters. There’s no such thing as ready-to-wear or “one size fits all.” Your eyes are different from everyone else’s. In fact, each eye often needs a different prescription.
  • Non-prescription novelty contacts may not be sterile or safe. Prescription contacts, including novelty lenses, come from sellers approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Non-prescription novelty contacts do not. You have no way of knowing if they were stored in sterile conditions or made from approved materials.

Novelty contact lens risks

All contact lenses pose some risk, but correctly fitted, prescribed and handled lenses are generally very safe. Eliminating these important steps increases your risk of:

  • Corneal abrasion – A very painful cut or scratch on the top layer of eye tissue.
  • Infection
  • Vision loss
  • Blindness

The lenses may also cause red, itchy or watery eyes – probably not the look you wanted, and a possible sign of serious problems. If you have eye pain, eye redness that doesn’t go away quickly or decreased vision, call an eye doctor immediately. You can reach Oregon Eye Specialists at 503-935-5580.

Learn more about novelty contact lenses

The FDA gives detailed information on the dangers of buying novelty contacts without a prescription – including one woman’s $30 purchase that cost her $2000 in medical bills.

Get novelty contact lenses safely

Oregon Eye Specialists has contact lens specialists at several of our 10 convenient locations. Call us at 503-935-5580 or contact us to request an appointment.

About the Expert

Dr. Jeffrey Garrett practices general optometry, including contact lens fittings and management of patients who have had cataract and refractive surgery. He earned a biological sciences degree from Chapman University, received his doctorate of optometry from the Southern California College of Optometry. Dr. Garrett is a member of the American Optometric Association, and joined Oregon Eye Specialists in 2000. Learn more about Dr. Jeffrey Garrett »
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