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Why you should be careful when buying colored contact lenses for Halloween

For those looking to up their spookiness this Halloween, colored contact lenses are a sure bet - but people need to beware before they buy.

Colored or decorative contact lenses can add a creepy touch to a Halloween costume, but eye doctors warn they can be dangerous if purchased improperly. According to the Food and Drug Administration, decorative contact lenses are medical devices and therefore cannot be sold legally without an eye exam and prescription.

Jeff Sarazen, an optometrist in Wausau and past president of the Wisconsin Optometric Association, says contacts sold without prescriptions can lead to eye infections or even ulcers. "If somebody gets a corneal ulcer from these contact lenses because they don't fit properly or maybe they don't care for them properly, these ulcers can leave a scar essentially where you'll have a permanent blind spot."

Another danger, says Sarazen, is that off-brand contacts could have small tears or rips in them, which can scrape the eye. He says buying the contacts through an optometrist will cost more, but that it's a small price to pay for healthy eyes.

"The only thing that's going to cost more is that you need to have a comprehensive eye exam in order to get them through a licensed professional," says Sarazen. "But most people should be having regular eye exams anyway, even if you're not a contact lens wearer."

Sarazen says wearing decorative contacts can be a lot of fun but that saving a few a bucks buying them online without a prescription isn't worth the risk.