College of Optometrists issues advice to those considering using novelty contact lenses on Halloween

  • 26 Oct 2017

Don’t become the star of your own Halloween horror show.

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The College of Optometrists is highlighting the danger of wearing unprescribed novelty contact lenses. As individuals up and down the country prepare for the spookiest night of the year, the College warns what may seem like the perfect eye-popping finish to this year’s Halloween costume may actually be the start of a real-life horror show.

To help guide the public this Halloween, the College of has issued the following advice to consider before using novelty contact lenses:  

  • Despite being available from a variety of high street shops and online retailers, it is illegal to sell these lenses without the direct supervision of an eye care expert.
  • Unprescribed novelty contact lenses are not tailored to your eyes, therefore there is an increased risk of developing eye health issues. If the lens doesn’t fit your eye properly it may make your eye red, or scratch your eye, leaving it vulnerable to infection.   
  • If you wear contact lenses of any kind you must make sure they are cleaned thoroughly after use with the appropriate solution, and disinfected before you put them back in your eyes. Never use tap water, as this may cause a serious infection in your eye.
  • Never share your lenses with other people.
  • Do not drive at night wearing novelty contact lenses that are strongly tinted or opaque. This is because they may impair your vision and increase the chance of an accident.
  • If you experience eye discomfort of any kind when, or after, wearing the contact lenses, you should seek advice from an optometrist, contact lens optician or doctor.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney, Clinical Adviser for the College of Optometrists, said: “Many people think that novelty contact lenses do not require the same level of care as standard contact lenses. This is not the case, even if only worn for one evening. We recommend that they should only be purchased from an optometrist who will check they fit well and ensure the wearer knows how to handle and use the lenses safely. We also advice that you don’t sleep in, or share your cosmetic contact lens and always wash and dry your hands before touching them.” 

To many people, sight is the most precious and vital of our five senses. Therefore it’s absolutely crucial that you look after your eyes and wear lenses carefully and as instructed, to ensure your eyes do not become a Halloween horror story.”

Further information and advice to help look after your eyes can be found on the College’s Look After Your Eyes website.



Notes to editors:

  1. By law fancy dress lenses can only be sold by or under the supervision of a doctor, optometrist or dispensing optician.
  2. Optometrists are primary health care specialists trained to examine the eyes to detect defects in vision, signs of injury, ocular diseases or abnormality and problems with general health. They make a health assessment, offer clinical advice and, when necessary, prescribe spectacles or contact lenses. In addition, optometrists can dispense and supply spectacles or contact lenses.
  3. The letters FCOptom or MCOptom after an optometrist’s name means that he or she is a fellow or member of the College of Optometrists. Membership of the College shows their commitment to the very highest clinical, ethical and professional standards, so look for these letters to see if your optometrist is a member.
  4. For information and advice about how to look after your eyes or to find a member of the College, visit:
  5. The College of Optometrists is the professional body for optometry in the UK, working for the public benefit. 
  6. There are currently over 15,175 registered optometrists in the UK.
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