Decorative contact lenses safety issues

Wearing decorative contact lenses just for fun, could affect your vision for life.

Decorative contact lenses (also called “fashion,” “costume,” “cosmetic” or “colored” contact lenses) do not correct vision; they change how eyes look. These lenses are sold at costume and novelty shops, by cosmetic retailers and online.

Without the help of trained professionals, decorative contact lenses can cause serious harm to those who choose and wear them, including:

  • Cuts or scratches to the top layer of the eyeball (corneal abrasions)
  • Allergic reactions (e.g., itchy, watery, red eyes) impaired vision
  • Infections
  • Blindness

Risks of side effects (or adverse reactions) from contact lenses are higher for smokers and people with certain health conditions, such as eye infections or dry eyes. The risk of adverse effects with unlicensed cosmetic contact lenses may be higher than with licensed prescription contact lenses.

Clients are protected from the inherent dangers of contact lenses, when contact lenses are properly prescribed by an Ophthalmologist or Optometrist (for vision correction or for cosmetic purposes). They undergo an eye health examination, before being prescribed lenses, and receive their lenses from an Optician, who is a trained professional contact lens fitter. The contact lens fitter instructs the wearer in the insertion, removal, care, and cleaning of the lenses, and monitors them for signs of trouble.

To help make decorative contact lenses safer, Health Canada began regulating these products as medical devices in 2016. All products must now be licensed by Health Canada before they can be sold. Selling unlicensed health products in Canada is illegal.

Play it safe, see an eyecare professional before inserting anything in your eyes.

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