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Decorative Contact Lenses: What Teens and Parents Need to Know

You may want to have the perfect look for Halloween or look like your favorite movie star or singer. But choosing to change the look of your eyes with contact lenses could cause a lot of damage to your eyesight if you get them without the input of your eye care professional.

What are decorative contact lenses?

Decorative contact lenses change the look of your eyes. They may not correct your vision. They can temporarily change your brown eyes to blue or make your eyes look like cat eyes or vampire eyes for Halloween.

Decorative contact lenses are considered medical devices. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees their safety and effectiveness, just like regular contact lenses that correct your vision.

Decorative contact lenses are sometimes called:

  • Halloween contact lenses

  • Fashion contact lenses

  • Color contact lenses

  • Cosmetic contact lenses

  • Theatrical contact lenses

What are the risks of decorative and Halloween contact lenses?

Wearing decorative contact lenses can be risky, just like the contact lenses that correct your vision. Wearing any kind of contact lenses, including decorative ones, can cause serious damage to your eyes if the lenses are obtained without a prescription or not used correctly.

Problems from not using contact lenses correctly can


When wearing any type of contact lenses, be aware of signs of possible eye infection such as:

  • Redness

  • Pain in the eye(s) that doesn't go away after a short period of time

  • Decreased vision

If you have any of these signs, you need to see a licensed eye doctor (optometrist or opthalmologist) right away! An eye infection could become serious and cause you to become blind if it is not treated.

You can avoid some of these risks by getting any type of contact lenses from your eye doctor. Be sure to follow the directions for cleaning, disinfecting, and wearing the lenses that your doctor gives you. If your doctor doesn't give you any direction, ask for them!

Do's and Don'ts of Decorative and Halloween Lenses

If you plan on wearing decorative contact lenses, even if only for a special event, make sure that you:

  • DO get an eye exam. A licensed eye doctor will examine your eyes to make sure the contact lenses fit properly. The fit of your contact lenses is very important. A wrong fit can cause damage to your eyes. Be sure to always go for follow-up eye exams.

  • DO get a prescription. Your eye doctor will write you a prescription for all contact lenses, including decorative lenses. The prescription should include the brand name, correct lens measurements, and expiration date.

  • DO follow the contact lens care instructions. Follow the instructions for wearing, cleaning, and disinfecting that come with your contact lenses. If you do not receive instructions, ask your eye doctor for them.

  • DO seek medical attention right away and remove your contact lenses if your eyes are red and have ongoing pain or discharge. Redness, pain and discharge from the eyes are signs of an eye infection. If you think you have an eye infection from your contact lenses, remove them and see an eye doctor right away.

  • DON'T share your contact lenses with anyone else. You wouldn't share your toothbrush, would you? All eyes are not the same size and shape; your contact lenses are fitted just for you.

  • DON'T buy any contact lenses without a prescription. If you don't see an eye doctor and get a prescription, the contact lenses you get may not fit properly and work well. They could even damage your eyes. Sometimes, wearing contact lenses can damage the top layer of your eyeball (cornea). Even if you aren't having any problems now, the lenses still could be causing damage to your eyes. By having regular checkups and buying contact lenses with a prescription, you will reduce the chance of any undetected damage to your eyes.

Buying decorative or Halloween contact lenses

You can buy contact lenses, including decorative contact lenses, from your eye doctor, on the internet, or from a mail-order company. This includes foreign manufacturers or distributors of decorative lenses. It's very important that you only buy contact lenses from a company that sells FDA-cleared or approved contact lenses and requires you to provide a prescription.

Anyone selling you contact lenses must get your prescription and verify it with your doctor. They should request not only the prescription, but the name of your doctor and their phone number. If they don't ask for this information, they are breaking federal law and could be selling you illegal contact lenses.

Remember: buying contact lenses without a prescription is dangerous!

Never buy contact lenses from a street vendor, a beauty supply store, flea market, novelty store or Halloween store, or from an unknown online distributor. They may be contaminated and/or counterfeit, and therefore not safe to use.

Even though there are a lot of products that you can buy without a prescription, contact lenses are not one of them. It's your job to make sure you protect your eyes by having an eye exam, getting a prescription, and buying contact lenses from a legal source.

More information

Last Updated
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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