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What to Know Before Wearing Decorative Contacts for Halloween

In this video, learn what health experts recommend when buying decorative or colored contact lenses for Halloween costumes.

Lauren Smith
Written by Lauren Smith | Reviewed by Alexandra Schwarz
Updated on November 15, 2021

Your cat costume is just about perfect, but some creepy cat-eyed contact lenses would take it to the next level. Decorative and colored contact lenses can be safe, but you’ll want to buy with discretion to avoid an eye-mergency this Halloween.

Eye docs have one essential piece of advice they don’t want you to forget as you assemble your Halloween costume: Never buy contact lenses without a prescription.

Even if you don’t need vision correction and you want lenses that are purely decorative, contact lenses need to be properly fitted to your eyes. Wearing contacts that aren’t properly fitted to the eyes increases the risk of frightful eye problems, such as a scratch on the clear protective layer of your eye (cornea).

Getting decorative contacts directly from an optometrist has other benefits as well. An optometrist can help equip you with tips to care for your contacts properly to avoid eye infections or other problems. This is especially important if you’re not someone who normally wears contact lenses for vision correction. Even lenses worn for just one night need to be properly cared for to avoid eye problems. (Find out the difference between an optometrist and ophthalmologist here.)

In other words, say “boo” to decorative lenses from beauty stores, Halloween stores, or online shops. In fact, over-the-counter decorative lenses are technically illegal.

In 2015, the American Academy of Ophthalmology issued a warning to consumers about studies that found harmful chemicals in over-the-counter decorative lenses, including chlorine. To make it worse, many of the lenses that were studied had bumpy textures that were dangerous to the eyes.

Okay, okay. You get it: Don’t buy over-the-counter contact lenses.

If you got your contacts legally from an eye doctor, spook on. But never, ever share those decorative lenses with others. The lenses from your eye doctor are fitted specifically to your eyes and could have ghostly results for your pal.

When it comes to your eyes, if it’s not prescribed by an eye doc just for you, toss ‘em in the coffin.


Four ways over-the-counter costume contact lenses can ruin vision. San Francisco, CA: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2014. (Accessed on November 16, 2021 at https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/four-ways-costume-contact-lenses-ruin-vision.)

Healthy contact lens wear and care: decorative contact lenses. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on November 16, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/decorative-contacts.html.)

View All References (2)

Healthy contact lens wear and care: other complications. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Accessed on November 16, 2021 at https://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/other-complications.html.)

Over-the-counter costume contacts may contain chemicals harmful to eyes. San Francisco, CA: American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2015. (Accessed on November 16, 2021 at https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/costume-contacts-may-contain-chemicals.)

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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