FDA Warns About Risk of Eye Damage From Halloween Contact Lenses

Federal regulators are warning that Halloween contact lenses and other costume lenses may pose a risk of serious eye damage for the wearer if care isn’t paid in choosing the right ones. 

The FDA issued a consumer warning on October 12, reminding the public that contact lenses are medical devices that should be chosen with care and should only be bought with a prescription.

Choosing the wrong lenses could cause eye damage and vision loss, the agency said, as well as increase the risk for potentially serious eye infections.

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Decorative contact lenses, which are also referred to as fashion contact lenses or color contact lenses, are big sellers just before Halloween, allowing wearers to change their eye color or give their eyes inhuman and fantasy looks. However, many of the products are sold “over-the-counter” as a cosmetics, or without a prescription, which is against the law.

The agency recommended that consumers never buy decorative contact lenses from street vendors, beauty supply stores, flea markets, novelty stores or Halloween stores. They should be prescription lenses fitted specifically to the wearer’s eye by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Buying an over-the-counter set of decorative lenses is likely to result in a poor fit, increasing the risk of eye damage.

If the lenses are not used correctly or are of poor quality, they can result in scratches to the cornea, allergic reactions, vision loss, eye infections and even blindness. Wearers should pay particular attention to any signs of infection, which can include:

  • Redness
  • Long-lasting eye pain
  • Decreased vision

Any contact lens wearers with the above symptoms should see a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately, the FDA warned. Eye infections could include corneal infections and conjunctivitis (known as pink eye).

Once purchased, the lenses need to be cared for by using the proper solution to keep them clean and moist. Many over-the-counter decorative contact lens dealers fail to provide buyers with proper instructions on how to keep the lenses clean, the FDA warned.

Photo courtesy of the FDA, available in public domain as U.S. government work.


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