colored contact lenses
photo: Getty Images

There's no denying that adding colored contact lenses to a Halloween costume takes it to a whole new level. 

If your dedication to the look is so extreme that you can't give up the look the lenses will provide, then make sure to exercise extreme caution and don't just buy from any random source. Contact lenses, even decorative ones, are considered medical equipment and need to be approved by the FDA to be legally sold in the US. 

Of course, many lenses slip through the cracks each Halloween, and people dress up with unsafe contacts in their eyes. Minor risks like conjunctivitis, aka pink eye, are common, and serious risks like blindness can also occur if a contact lens isn't prescribed directly to the user. 

There are tons of unsafe sites selling lenses without prescriptions, and they're doing so illegally. Even if you do find lenses that are FDA approved and fit your prescription, you still need to practice safe contact lens wear and NEVER sleep in them. Here are other tips to keep in mind to avoid any eye ailments later. 

First things first: If you're going to wear colored contact lenses this year for Halloween, you need to see an optometrist. 

The FDA considers all contact lenses, even non-corrective cosmetic ones, as medical devices, which means they need to be prescribed directly to the user by a medical professional. The prescription will make sure that the lens brand and size will work for your eye specifically. 

Everyone's eye shape and size is different, and wearing an improperly fitting contact lens can lead to true horror stories

Decorative lenses should never be worn for longer than four hours — sometimes even less. 

These massive colored contacts caused this YouTuber so much discomfort that she said she couldn't imagine wearing them for longer than a few minutes. The warning label suggested not to wear them for longer than an hour. 

Most colored contact lenses shouldn't be worn for longer than four hours, and absolutely cannot be slept in.

In an interview with Shape, optometrist Arian Fartash explained that you shouldn't sleep in colored contacts: "Because of the coloring, these types of lenses are a lot thicker, so oxygen is not going to get into the eye as much as regular lenses."

In 2014, the FDA partnered with American Horror Story to warn users about the potential risks of decorative lenses. 

Ryan Murphy's horror anthology series has had plenty of experience in special effects makeup, including cosmetic contacts. This PSA from 2014 warns users not to buy lenses from just any source. Even the makeup artists and actors who wear costume lenses are required to see eye doctors and get prescription-based lenses. 

There are safe ways to adorn these crazy costume additions, but it takes extra care rather than simply buying from the cheapest site online. 

An actual eye doctor recommended a brand that's safe to use with your prescription, and gave tips for lens safety. 

Optometrist Joseph Allen gave a few tips and warnings in this Halloween contact lens video. 

The three major mistakes he suggests that buyers avoid: First, purchasing from a random online site without proper research or a prescription, which makes sense because most people don't realize that's a requirement. 

Second, people have poor hygiene with their lenses. Lenses should be rinsed with sterile contact solution and stored in cases, never mixed with water. Allen suggests using LensFresh, which can be purchased from optometrists. 

Third, people overwear or sleep in their lenses, which causes infection and doesn't allow eyes to breathe. Lenses are meant only for "occasional wear" and shouldn't be worn long-term. 

Angelic Red FX Contact Lenses – Gothika – Pair, $44

VampFang Gothika contact lenses
photo: Gothika

>> Get it here

After meeting with your doctor and getting a recommendation for a brand, maybe Gothika will be right for you. These lenses are FDA approved and require a prescription, so they check the two biggest "red flag" boxes. Once you have the lenses in your possession, then you'll need to follow the rest of the precautionary steps to be sure you have a safe Halloween. 

GOTHIKA Cheshire Cat FX Contact Lenses – Pair, $44

VampFangs Gothika contact lenses
photo: Gothika

>> Get it here

There are tons of different styles on VampFangs' website, which sells the Gothika brand. These lenses last one year, which is important, because most contact lenses have an expiration date. This brand will give you an exact expiration date stamped on the box.

Black Out Contact Lenses – Gothika – Pair, $44

Gothika lenses from VampFang
photo: Gothika

>> Get it here

Allen suggests buying colored contact lenses directly from your eye doctor, because then you can be the most sure about the quality and fit of the lenses. But if the creepy options from Gothika suit you, they could also work with a doctor's recommendation. 

GOTHIKA Dragons Breath Contact Lenses, $44

Gothika VampFangs
photo: Gothika

>> Get it here

These yellow and red lenses are made to mimic Pennywise, which is perfect considering that the sinister clown from It is one of the most popular costumes this year. 

All of these lenses are purchase-at-your-own-risk, but hopefully after reading all our tips and warnings, you'll be better equipped to have the spookiest Halloween ever this year. 

Or maybe you'll just stick with an expressive makeup look.