As Halloween approaches the topic of decorative contact lenses always comes up. Contact lenses are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. A prescription is required to purchase any contacts whether they are tinted or not. Many street vendors, novelty stores, websites and salons sell decorative contact lenses illegally.
Contact lenses ride on the front surface of your eye, the cornea. A lens that fits poorly or is used by an untrained wearer can lead to serious eye conditions and possibly blindness. As eye doctors, we need to see the lens on the eye to determine if the fit is safe. We do this every day in clinic with diagnostic lenses we have at our disposal in the office. At one time a large contact lens manufacturer, CIBA, had a product called Wildeyes. We had diagnostic Wildeyes lenses and could fit and write a prescription for them. Due to poor sales, CIBA discontinued the Wildeyes line of lenses.
Because it is somewhat of a fringe product, none of the large contact lens manufacturers are currently making decorative contacts. The small, niche manufacturers do not have the relationships with the doctors to supply them with the diagnostic lenses for fitting. So we can’t fit the lens and write a prescription. This leaves the consumer who wants these contacts in a tough position. Either go without or get them without a prescription and risk eye injury and infections. Until something changes and lenses can be fit properly, we recommend leaving these lenses out of your costume plans.