Without a prescription, wearing colored contacts may appear innocuous, but if they aren’t placed by an eye doctor, costume contacts can seriously hurt your eyes and even render you permanently blind. Additionally, a lot of costume contact lenses are marketed without a prescription, which is against American law.

Here’s how to use costume contacts safely whether you’re participating in cosplay, dressing up for Halloween, or attending other events.

“Consumers need to realize that using non-prescription lenses might result in irreversible eye damage,” says Thomas Steinemann, MD, a practicing ophthalmologist at Cleveland, Ohio’s MetroHealth Medical Center. “I myself have seen far too many bad situations resulting from the use of ornamental lenses in both youngsters and adults.”

7 Things You Need To Know Before Trying Colored Contacts

1. Colored contacts are the same as regular ones, basically. The only true distinction between colored contacts and plain contacts is that colored contacts have color. The clear counterpart to the colored lenses has the same design, according to Dr. Justin Bazan of Park Slope Eye in Brooklyn, New York. If you regularly wear contacts and are accustomed to them, handling colored lenses won’t be a problem for you. They also have the same lifespan as conventional connections.

2. They might be a little less comfortable. Colored contacts can be a little thicker than standard ones, so getting used to them may take some time. Additionally, bigger lenses are frequently simpler to insert and remove.

3. You can try colored contacts even if you have perfect vision. Even if you have 20/20 vision, you may copy Selena Gomez’s blue-eyed style from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show last year. According to Dr. Bazan, color contacts are available in a variety of powers. But the only real method to know your vision and make sure your eyes are in good repair is to consult an eye specialist. “They are typically covering the range of +6 to -8, including zero power.”

4. You still need a prescription. Even if your colored contacts have zero power, you do still need to see a doc. That’s because all contacts, clear or color, are serious medical devices that can potentially damage your eyes. Plus, it’s the law! “Different brands of contacts perform differently and need to be checked by your eye doc to ensure they are the right ones for you,” adds Dr. Bazan. “Once your eye doctor gives the contacts the okay, you will get a prescription for them and can place an order.” That means, you shouldn’t order colored contacts from just any online retailer, like a Halloween store or website that doesn’t require you to have a prescription. It’s not risking the chance of damaging your peepers to save money.

5. Just like regular contacts, you should NEVER share them with friends.You shouldn’t share colored contact lenses with anyone, even though it can seem that way if you’re only using them to change up your appearance and they have no power. An unpleasant eye illness might result from exchanging eye germs. Dr. Bazan continues that your friend’s contacts might not be the best ones for you.

6. Anyone that can wear contacts, can wear colored contacts.Some people want to just use their contacts for one day, while others want to replace them every two weeks. Some people have completely “normal” eyes, while others have astigmatism, a curvature flaw in the eyes. Thankfully, colored contacts are available for almost everyone, though some varieties, such those for astigmatism, could be more expensive.

7. There are a bunch of different brands to choose from.Together, you and your eye doctor will search for the brand that is best for you. There are several variations available, including a variety of hues, patterns, and tints. Before making them permanently yours, your doctor will first offer you a trial pair to make sure you enjoy wearing them.


Minimizing Risks of Colored Contacts

The FDA classifies all contacts as medical devices, even plano colored contacts that do not correct eyesight. They must be authorized and can only be used with a prescription.

Colored contacts must first be custom-fit to your eye before being bought from an FDA-approved vendor. Colored contact lenses are being sold illegally by unlicensed sellers. Serious side effects from these non-prescription lenses include blindness, eye infections, and vision loss.

When looking into colored contacts, you will need to have your eyes specifically measured and then obtain a customized prescription from an optometrist. Contacts that don’t fit your eyes properly drastically increase the odds for infections, ulcerations, and eye-related problems.

Here are some tips for preventing issues related to colored contacts:

  • Obtain a prescription and get fitted for colored contacts at an optometrist.

  • Purchase your colored contacts from a place that needs a prescription and has FDA approval. Never purchase colored or ornamental contacts from a street vendor, beauty parlor, convenience store, online retailer, or store that doesn’t require a prescription.

  • Don’t share your colored contacts with anyone; only wear those that have been prescribed specifically for you.

  • Maintain proper hygiene. Before touching your eyes or your contacts, always wash your hands.

  • According to the instructions, clean and preserve your colored contacts. To clean and preserve your contacts, only use the specialist contact solution advised by the contact manufacturer.

  • Replace your colored contacts as needed, and only use them as instructed. When the manufacturer specifies, remove, discard, and replace them.

  • If you suffer any eye pain, sensitivity, redness, or discharge, remove your contacts right once. Speak with a member of your eye care team straight now.