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If you are considering wearing novelty contact lenses this Halloween, you will not be alone. Research conducted by The College of Optometrists showed that almost 60% of those who plan to dress up as part of Halloween celebrations will consider wearing cosmetic contacts lenses*. The same research shows that only 22% of people would buy novelty lenses from an optometrist*; although it is illegal to sell zero powered (lenses without a prescription) contact lenses in the UK without the supervision of an optometrist, dispensing optician or doctor.

Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser at The College of Optometrists explains:. “If you want to wear novelty lenses this Halloween, speak to your optometrist about the lenses you can be safely fitted with. They will advise you as to which lenses are suitable for you. Your optometrist will also be able to show you how to insert and remove your lenses. Fancy dress lenses are often purchased by people who are not regular contact lens wearers, meaning they might not know how to handle and care for them properly, which can result in damage to the eye and potential sight loss.”

The College of Optometrists has issued the following advice for those intending to wear contact lenses this Halloween:

  • Unlike standard contact lenses, fancy dress lenses may not be tailored to your eyes, which can increase the risk of eye health issues. Lenses that are not properly fitted, or from unreputable sources may increase the risk of contact lens-related complications such as scratching your eye or causing an infection, so it is important that any contact lenses you wear are fitted and dispensed by a qualified professional who can give you the appropriate advice on how to wear and use them safely
  • If you are re-wearing contact lenses of any sort, including novelty lenses, you must make sure that they are suitable for this purpose and only within the re-use period after first opening. You should clean and disinfect them thoroughly after use with the recommended contact lens solution. Never use tap water, the wrong solution, or lick them – and if they drop on the floor don’t simply pop them back in
  • You should never use contact lenses after their expiry date
  • You should not share contact lenses with friends, as even quickly trying them on can lead to eye infections
  • Driving with novelty lenses (even if you wear glasses over the top) may also be dangerous: if the lenses aperture does not align with your pupil they may impair your vision
  • If you experience any eye discomfort when, or after, wearing any type of contact lens contact your optometrist for advice without delay.

For further information and advice on contact lens use, and how to help look after your eye health and vision, and to find your nearest member of The College of Optometrists, visit the College’s Look After Your Eyes website.

*Research undertaken by Opinium on behalf of the College of Optometrists in September 2021. 2000 people were surveyed.