Decorative Contact Lenses

If you have ever wished that your eyes were a different color—or that you could give them a different “look”—you might understand why decorative contact lenses appeal to some people. There are many names for contact lenses that are used to change the appearance of the eyes, including cosmetic, theatrical, Halloween, circle, decorative, costume, or colored contact lenses. These types of lenses may also be used to improve vision. Whether they improve vision or not, all contact lenses require a prescription  and proper care to lower the risk of eye infections and other complications.

Close up image of a woman's eye with a multicolored contact lens.

All contact lenses require a prescription

All contact lenses are medical devices that are regulated by the U.S. government. By law, decorative contact lensesexternal icon, whether they correct vision or not, require a prescription and proper fitting from an eye doctor. Any type of contact lens that can be purchased without a prescription is being sold illegally—and can pose serious risks to sight and eye health. Do not purchase decorative contact lenses from costume shops, beauty salons, drug stores, flea markets, or anywhere that doesn’t require a prescription. You can buy contact lenses from eye doctors’ offices, online, or by mail order but only with a valid prescription. You should continue care as directed by your eye doctor with any type of contact lens purchased.

Colored or decorative contact lenses are not risk-free

People who wear any type of contact lenses need to practice proper wear and care steps to keep their eyes healthy. No type of contact lens is risk-free. Improper care of contact lenses increases the chances of infections and other complications. When decorative contact lenses are sold without a prescription, proper fitting, and education about wear and care from an eye doctor, there appears to be a greater risk of permanent eye damage—even blindness.

Follow tips for healthy wear and care

For all types of contact lenses, not wearing and caring for them properly raises the chances of serious eye infections.

  • Never share contact lenses with others.
  • Rub and rinse your contact lenses with contact lens disinfecting solution—never water or saliva—to clean them each time you remove them. Even if worn occasionally, contact lenses must be disinfected and stored in new solution at least every 7 days.
  • Never store your contact lenses in water.
  • Replace your contact lenses as often as recommended by your eye doctor.
  • Replace your contact lens case at least once every three months.
  • Don’t “top off” solution. Use only fresh contact lens disinfecting solution in your case—never mix fresh solution with old or used solution.

All contact lens wearers should follow these healthy contact lens use tips.

NEVER share your contact lenses with someone else! Each pair is prescribed and fitted specifically for your eyes.

Page last reviewed: October 25, 2019