Halloween health warning: Costume contact lenses also need a prescription

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If you're looking to buy cosmetic contact lenses to spice up your Halloween costume, the Federal Trade Commission is reminding you that all contact lenses require a prescription, even if it's just a fashion accessory. Anyone who sells them without getting a copy of your prescription or verifying your prescription with your eye doctor is breaking the law.

The FTC says wearing any type of contact lens before getting an exam can lead to serious injuries including:

  • Pain and discomfort of the eyes
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • Blurred or decreased vision
  • Corneal abrasion (cut or scratch on top layer of eye)
  • Allergic reactions (itchy, watery, red eyes)
  • Infection
  • Blindness


The Contact Lens Rule requires your eye doctor to give you your prescription at no extra charge, the FTC says. That means you don't have to buy your contacts from your eye doctor -- you can take the prescription elsewhere if you find your contacts from someone cheaper.

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The FTC advises to only buy costume contacts from retailers who ask for the prescription or eye doctor's information and who only sell FDA-approved contact lenses.

Investigators with the Department of Homeland Security reportedly say they aren't too concerned about reputable stores, but are concerned about online sellers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that if you have the following symptoms from wearing contacts, take them out immediately. If you still have these symptoms a couple hours after taking the contacts out or if the symptoms get worse, call an eye doctor.

  • Irritated, red eyes
  • Worsening pain in or around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sudden blurry vision
  • Unusually watery eyes or discharge