Wouldn’t it be cool to have vampire eyes for Halloween? Or deep violet eyes to match your purple sweater? How about your favorite sports team’s logo on your eyes just for fun?
You can have all of these looks with decorative contact lenses (sometimes called “fashion,” “costume,” or “colored” contact lenses). These lenses don’t correct vision—they just change how your eyes look.
But you need a prescription to avoid eye injury. Before buying decorative lenses, here’s what you should know.
They are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them over-the-counter, without a prescription, are breaking the law.
They are not “one size fits all.” An eye doctor (ophthalmologist or optometrist) must measure each eye to properly fit the lenses and evaluate how your eye responds to contact lens wear. A poor fit can cause serious eye damage, including:
scratches on the cornea (the clear dome of tissue over the iris—the part of the eye that gives you your eye color)
corneal infection (an ulcer or sore on the cornea)
conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Places that sell decorative lenses without a prescription may give you few or no
instructions on how to clean and care for your lenses. Failure to use the proper solution to keep contact lenses clean and moist can lead to infections, says Bernard P. Lepri, O.D., M.S., M.Ed., an FDA optometrist in the agency’s Contact Lens and Retinal Devices Branch. “Bacterial infections can be extremely rapid, result in corneal ulcers, and cause blindness—sometimes within as little as 24 hours if not diagnosed and treated promptly.”
“The problem isn’t with the decorative contacts themselves,” adds Lepri. “It’s the way people use them improperly—without a valid prescription, without the involvement of a qualified eye care professional, or without appropriate follow-up care.”
We do not sell costume contact lenses at Eye Candy Vision.