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Costume Contact Lenses 101: How to Protect Your Eyes as You Impress Your Friends

AOA campaign aims to educate doctors, retailers and consumers on proper contact lens usage ahead of spooky season.




Costume Contact Lenses 101: How to Protect Your Eyes as You Impress Your Friends

Halloween is nearly here! And we can’t wait. The costumes. The pumpkins. The decorations. The frights. THE CANDY!

From a business standpoint, did you know that Halloween is the second biggest commercial holiday in America? The National Retail Federation projects Halloween spending this year to reach a record $10.6 billion. How this holiday only ranks 10th (tied with Easter) on the list of most popular national and religious events in the country is beyond us.

The spooky season comes with plenty of fun and economic benefits. However, it also provides the perfect opportunity to remind the masses about the dangers of selling and/or purchasing contact lenses without valid prescriptions.

Safety First

We get the appeal. Decorative contact lenses are a surefire way to take your Halloween costume (or cosplay outfit) to the next level. In fact, we’ve gathered some outstanding examples of killer color contacts from the Twitterverse (The X-verse?) and embedded them at the end of this post.

But there are real dangers to putting anything on your eye that isn’t up to federal regulations. Issues range from the rather mundane: eye irritation, to the very serious: vision loss.

The American Optometric Association works to ensure that retailers know the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) treats contact lenses like the medical devices they are. The AOA’s annual “31 in 31” advocacy campaign, which runs the month of October, aims to keep the proper wear and care of contact lenses in the national spotlight.


“Contact lenses are medical devices that are required by law to be fit by licensed practitioners to keep patients safe and optimize their wearing experience,” says Mile Brujic, O.D., chair of the AOA’s Contact Lens & Cornea Section (CLCS). “Anyone retailing them without an appropriate prescription needs to be held accountable for the safety of the people we care for.”

The AOA reports it has reached out to more than 150 retailers over the years to inform them of the laws as they pertain to the sale of contact lenses.

“The main concern with unprescribed contact lenses is eye health,” says Paul Velting, O.D., past chair of CLCS. “While most of the decorative contact lens retailers tout their lenses as ‘FDA approved,’ patients sometimes assume this means they’re automatically safe.”

Much of the AOA’s outreach is dependent on reports from its members. Doctors are encouraged to report any suspected contact use violations to the AOA. If you have any questions, send them to

“Without reports from doctors of optometry, we don’t know which companies are the most frequent offenders,” says Dr. Velting.

“Reports from actual patient experiences are extremely important.”


The FDA also offers a number of resources to the public for reporting potential contact lens sales or usage infractions:

On to the Fun Part

Now, with that PSA out of the way, here are some amazing examples of decorative contact lenses. (May they all be lawfully compliant!)

You can also take a trip in the way back machine to see how these ECPs totally crushed novelty contact lenses… the right way.



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