An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Know the Risks of Decorative Contact Lenses

  • Published
  • By Major John J. Kim
  • 36th Medical Group

Halloween is all about scary…scary costumes, scary decorations, and scary pumpkins, but don't let it include a scary eye infection!  Each year people--young and old--are attracted by the appeal of cosmetic contact lenses which will change your natural eye color into something scary. Perfect for Halloween, right? They can be, if you follow some basic tips.

The first thing to know is that contact lenses--even the scary ones--are not cosmetics nor over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Stores, such as: street vendors, salons, Halloween stores, convenience stores, etc., that are marketing these contact lenses as cosmetics and are selling them over-the-counter are still breaking the law. Since one size does not fit all, an optometrist or ophthalmologist must properly fit all lenses. Proper follow up care is vital to avoid the potential opportunity for serious eye damage. However, you can safely buy the lenses from any seller that requires a prescription before you purchase them, whether online or in person.

How do you know if you are having a problem? You may experience any of the following symptoms: redness, pain in the eye that doesn’t go away after a short period of time, discharge from the eye and decreased vision. These adverse side effects can lead to: scratched cornea, eye infection/pink eye, decreased vision and possibly blindness. If you notice any of these symptoms, please see your optometrist or ophthalmologist. It’s important to know that a contact lens-related eye infection could lead to permanent vision loss, sometimes in less than 24 hours.

Here are some “Dos” for this Halloween season to keep your eyes healthy and to  prevent any eye problems: DO get an eye exam (even if you don’t need glasses), DO get a prescription, DO follow the recommended wear and care schedule, DO remove your contact lens with first symptoms and seek medical attention immediately. 

Please don’t let a few days of having the perfect costume outweigh the risk of vision loss! Additional information can be found at: