AOP warns novelty lens wearers this Halloween

One in 10 optometrists see patients with eye problems after wearing novelty lenses

Scratched corneas, sore eyes and eye infections; whether you’ll be terrifying party guests as horror movie IT’s Pennywise or channelling that age-old classic, Dracula – you should think twice before adding novelty lenses to your costume. The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is reminding party goers this Halloween that novelty lenses, sold without the supervision of a registered eye health professional can put your eye health at risk.

The AOP has issued some advice to consider:

  1. Visit an eye health professional: All contact lenses carry a risk of eye infections so it’s important to get the best advice and make sure your contact lenses are fitted by an eye care professional. If you experience any eye discomfort when, or after, wearing any type of contact lens you should seek advice from an optometrist, contact lens optician or doctor

  2. Keep lenses clean: When wearing any type of lens, always make sure they are clean by using the recommended contact lens solution. Never use tap water to clean lenses - this could lead to serious health problems, like corneal ulcers, and in extreme cases blindness

  3. Don’t keep lenses in all night: Unless specifically designed for extended use, contact lenses should not be worn for long periods of time, and certainly not for more than 16 hours in a day and you should never sleep in them

  4. No swapping: Never share or swap contact lenses with anyone else – the risk of infection is much higher

  5. Know the law: While novelty lenses are widely available in joke and fancy-dress shops and can be purchased online, it is illegal to sell them without the supervision of a registered professional like an optometrist or dispensing optician because of the risk to your eye health  

Optometrist and Clinical and Regulatory Officer at the AOP, Farah Gatrad, explains: “Recent AOP research shows us that many people visit their optometrist with problems after wearing novelty lenses and yet there are still a lot of people that are unaware of the risks. Novelty lenses are easily accessible on the High Street and online, but they come with little to no instructions on safe use. They are not professionally fitted or assessed so can cause serious problems such as serious eye infections or corneal abrasions.”

For more information about eye care and top tips for healthy eyes, see the AOP website

The AOP has produced a leaflet jointly with the General Optical Council called Do you know the law on selling contact lenses, to help tackle illegal sale of contact lenses on the High Street.


High resolution images can be downloaded here.

For more information, please contact Serena Box, PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2063.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 80% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. As a founding member of the Optical Confederation we work with others to improve eye health for the public good. For more information, visit