Bacteria, other contaminants make costume contact lenses risky

CHARLOTTE, NC (WCNC/WCMH) — As you get ready to put the finishing touches on your Halloween costume, there’s one accessory you’ll want to leave out — costume contact lenses.

Cosmetic or costume lenses are not approved by the Federal Drug Administration. The lenses are considered very dirty and are sometimes covered in bacteria, according to FDA.

“It can cause eye infections, abrasions, neovascular ovations, things to that effect,” warns ophthalmologist Dr. Alex Bunich.

Dr. Bunich reminds everyone that contact lenses are medical devices and should not be used as a dress-up accessory.

“It does alter the physiology, the fundamental physiology of your eyes,” he says.

Costume contacts that are imported from other countries are often counterfeit, according to the FDA and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department. When seized by customs, testing showed some of the lenses contained bacteria and other contaminants.

“There’s absolutely no quality control when these lenses are created or packaged,” Dr. Bunich said. “So for all we know, they’re coming in from a third-world country, we don’t know what’s going on with the water. There are certain bacteria, certain microbacteria, that are available in most waters, and if they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, then they can cause some pretty traumatic eye infections.”

Those infections could lead to temporary — and in the worst cases permanent — vision loss. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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