With the fall comes Halloween and with that, costumes. As a consumer, you want to be aware of certain hazards to your eyes that sometimes put a damper on the Halloween spirit.

A popular costume accessory as of late has been special effect contact lenses and this is alarming eye care professionals. Contacts are a governmentally regulated medical device. It is illegal to sell contact lenses without a license which is applicable to costume and party supply stores, however obviously the regulations are not adhered to. Lens manufacturers operating without a license may use subpar materials or even toxic dyes to color the lenses. Further, using contacts without adequate instruction and treatment, can result in serious eye injury such as infection, abrasion or even blindness.

If you do wish to use cosmetic lenses, it is essential to make an exam appointment with a licensed eye care professional. After a contact lens evaluation and eye exam, the practitioner will determine the proper size, curvature and if required prescription needed for the contacts. The eye doctor will also give vital guidance on how to properly insert, remove and care for the lenses.

Failure to take adequate measures in handling contact lenses can result in painful infections, inflammation, or more serious eye scratches or ulcers. The eyes are a serious matter and nothing should be put in them without careful instruction from a professional eye care expert.

Never purchase lenses from anyone other than a licensed seller that you can guarantee sells products approved by the FDA. Even non-corrective lenses must conform to health standards and need a prescription. Beware of websites, open markets or beauty supply stores that may sell unregulated products made with dangerous dyes. To find out if the retailer is licensed to sell contact lenses you can ask for the state license number and call the state Department of Professional Regulations (DPR) to check.

If your Halloween costume just won’t be the same without special effect contact lenses, call your local optometrist before making any purchase. Don’t let Halloween be a “Hallowed” night for your eyes. Be aware of how to dress up your eyes safely.