It's that time of year again. Halloween is filled with fun, candy, and costumes. If you're one of those individuals that loves dressing up and going all out with your Halloween costume, then you may have used or thought about using costume contacts. However, many people are not familiar with the dangers and risks associated with costume contact lenses. 

"Most people believe that decorative lenses do not require the same level of care or consideration as a standard contact lens because they can be purchased over-the-counter or on the Internet," says Thomas Steinemann, MD, professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "This is far from the truth."

In fact, it is illegal to sell colored contact lenses without a prescription in the United States. All contact lenses are medical devices that require a prescription and proper fitting by an eye-care professional. Retailers that sell contacts without a prescription are breaking the law, and may be fined $11,000 per violation. "Many of the lenses found online or in beauty salons, novelty shops or in pop-up Halloween stores are not FDA-approved and are being sold illegally," Dr. Steinemann said.

If you don't see an eye doctor and get a prescription, then the contact lenses you get may not fit properly and may not work well. They could even damage your eyes. Sometimes wearing contact lenses can damage the top layer of your eyeball (cornea) through abrasions (scratches) and permanent scarring. Some damage can be reversed with proper treatment, but other damage caused by ill fitting lenses can cause permanent vision loss. 

So, if you are interested in using costume lenses for Halloween, talk to Dr.Ephraim about it first.