If you are going all-out on a Halloween costume, complete with cosmetic contact lenses that make your eyes extra spooky, be aware of potential hazards from cheap, nonprescription contacts.
Wearing cosmetic contacts purchased at gas stations, flea markets, or costume shops—any place that doesn’t require a prescription—can damage your eyes in several ways, including corneal scratches, infections, and allergic reactions that can cause impaired vision or temporary or permanent loss of sight.
Selling cosmetic contacts without a state license is against the law, and businesses doing so are operating illegally. Out-of-state companies selling contacts on the Internet to residents of California must be licensed and are required to verify your prescription with your eye doctor.
Although the contacts are not intended for vision correction, it is still vital they fit your eyes correctly. If you don’t have a current prescription, you will need to have your eyes examined by a licensed optometrist or ophthalmologist; if you have a current prescription, your eye care professional can give you a copy.
Ophthalmologists are eye surgeons licensed by DCA’s Medical Board of California. They perform surgeries for problems caused by diseases such as cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration, and also treat eye diseases and prescribe corrective lenses. Optometrists are licensed by DCA’s State Board of Optometry. They conduct examinations for overall health of the eyes, screen for diseases, and also prescribe corrective lenses.
You can check Medical Board licensees’ records online at www.mbc.ca.gov, and State Board of Optometry licensees at www.optometry.ca.gov.
If you do get a prescription for cosmetic contacts, buy them from a licensed optometrist, ophthalmologist, or registered dispensing optician, and be sure to follow directions for caring for and wearing them properly.