Novelty lenses for Halloween, what could really go wrong?

Are scratched eyes, bacterial conjunctivitis and eye ulcers part of your costume this year?

With Halloween approaching, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is sharing real-life horror stories to help warn those considering risking their eye health this Halloween.

The AOP has issued some gruesome tales from optometrists:

  1. Make sure you get your lenses fitted by a professional, not the Internet

    “I recall a patient suffering from a scratched eye after trying to remove her Halloween lenses following instruction from a YouTube tutorial.”

    Tip: If they are not fitted and cared for properly, 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 immediately. Danger signs include: redness, pain or an aversion to light.

  2. Sharing your lenses? You’ll share the germs too

    “A young patient came to see us after Halloween with what turned out to be bacterial conjunctivitis – caused by passing and using the cosmetic lenses between friends at a party”.

    Tip: Never share or swap contact lenses with anyone else – the risk of getting a nasty infection, like bacterial conjunctivitis which can cause uncomfortable pink or red eyes, and a yellow or green sticky discharge, is much higher.

  3. Don’t re-use your lenses, they’re better as a one-night stand

    “A patient contracted keratitis after re-using her cosmetic lenses from the year before.”

    Tip: You should never re-use contact lenses unless they are specifically designed for repeat wear, as it increases the likelihood of infections such as keratitis which is a very painful inflammation of the cornea. Re-useable lenses must be kept in fresh contact lens solution, in a clean contact lens case.

  4. Don’t buy from an unknown source

    “I once had a patient who suffered damage to the surface of her eye after buying contact lenses for Halloween from the Internet with no instruction on hygiene or handling.”

    Tip: While novelty lenses are often 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 contact lens optician because of the risk to your eye health. 

  5. Don’t keep lenses in all night, or you’ll wake up with a fright

“A patient developed a corneal ulcer [a painful sore that develops on the outer surface of your eye] after sleeping in her Halloween lenses.”

Tip: 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, unless explicitly told they are designed for this.

Other tips from the AOP include:

  • Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly before using any type of contact lens and follow your optometrist’s or contact lens optician’s advice
  • Replace your contact lens case regularly to reduce the risk of infection and always use fresh contact lens solution to store your lenses
  • Never bathe or go swimming in your contact lenses


For more information, please contact Philomena Obasi-Adams, PR and Marketing Officer, at the Association of Optometrists, [email protected] or telephone 020 7549 2077.

For high-res images please refer to this Dropbox folder.

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. For more information, visit