Special-effect contact lenses — including black contact lenses, Halloween contact lenses and other “crazy” lenses — are soft contact lenses that are available for theatrical and novelty uses.
Just like colored contact lenses, special-effect (FX) or crazy contacts can be used whether or not you normally wear eyeglasses or contact lenses, because most types are available both with and without lens powers to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism.
It’s important to note that all contact lenses, including plano Halloween contacts and any other special-effects contacts, are classified as medical devices by the FDA and require a valid contact lens prescriptionfrom a licensed eye care practitioner.
Theatrical or novelty lenses are safe to wear — but only when they are properly prescribed and cared for, and purchased from a legitimate source. Putting the finishing touch to your Halloween costume is not worth a sight-threatening eye infection from improper contact lens use. (Read our Safety Checklistbelow.)
How Do Special-Effect Contacts Work?
Special-effect contact lenses have an opaque (non-transparent) tint to completely mask your natural eye color and are available in a wide variety of dramatic colors and designs. The center of the lens, which lies over your pupil, is clear so you can see.
Most novelty or costume contact lenses cover just the colored portion of your eye (iris), but special-effect scleral lenses, like all-black, red, yellow or white contacts, cover both the iris and the “white” (sclera) of your eyes to create a truly haunting look.
Special Effects Contact Lenses: Trends and Designs
Black sclera contact lenses, white contact lenses, wild eyes, cat eyes — whichever you choose, there’s a huge array of Halloween contact lenses to add the ultimate finishing touch to your Halloween costume.
Current trends in theatrical or novelty contact lenses are inspired by movies and cult TV shows.
These include the popular black, white and yellow special-effect scleral contact lenses, as worn on the cult TV show True Blood; red and amber colored contacts like those worn in Twilight, New Moon andBreaking Dawn; and Goth contact lenses in patterns of red, black, white and yellow which channel The Exorcist.
Other movie character special-effect lenses include vivid green “Mad Hatter” colored contacts inspired by the movie Alice in Wonderland, yellow “alien” contacts as featured in Avatar and even yellow cat-eyes like those seen in Harry Potter.
Crazy contact lenses remain popular, too. These include zombie, vampire and other supernatural designs such as spider webs, cat eyes and werewolves — perfect for adding the “wow” factor to your Halloween or special occasion costume.
If you want even scarier looking contact lenses, there are mesh-look contacts and even neon glow-in-the-dark UV lenses!
5 Must-Knows About Halloween Contacts
- To buy them, you need a prescription from a qualified eye care professional — even if they’re just for looks and aren’t correcting your vision.
- Retailers who sell Halloween contacts but don’t require an Rx are selling them illegally. Don’t trust illegal sources! Often they sell non-sterile or expired lenses. They don’t care about your eyes — they just want your money.
- As with other contact lenses, you must clean Halloween contacts properly and store them in a clean case. Your eye care professional can provide instructions.
- Never, ever, ever share them with anyone. This can lead to serious eye problems.
- The most popular costumes that incorporate Halloween contacts are zombies, vampires and aliens.
CONTACTS IN THE MOVIES
A Colorful History of Special Effect Lenses
Special-effect contact lenses aren’t a recent fad. Morton Greenspoon, OD, a pioneer of theatrical lenses, has been providing special effects contact lenses to the film industry since the 1950s.
Dr. Greenspoon has changed Elvis Presley’s baby blues to brown for the movieFlaming Star, provided Michael Jackson’s wolf eyes for the “Thriller” music video, and has received an Academy Award nomination for his work on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. His most recent film work includes Pirates of the Caribbean and theTwilight Saga.
But you don’t have to walk the red carpet to wear crazy contact lenses. With the array of special-effect lenses available today, you too can get into character and portray your favorite Hollywood star.
Do You Need a Prescription?
Yes — while novelty contacts are designed for fun, they still are considered medical devices and cannot be purchased legally in the United States without a contact lens prescription.
You must see your eye doctor for a contact lens exam to have them properly fitted and prescribed, even if you have perfect eyesight and don’t need corrective eyewear.
Contact lenses — including special-effect lenses — are not a “one size fits all.” A poor lens fit can lead to eye infection, corneal ulcer, decreased vision and even blindness.
Circle Contact Lenses
Circle lenses are a relatively recent phenomenon. Also called “big eye” lenses, they make your eyes look larger than normal to produce a doll-like appearance, inspired by doe-eyed anime cartoon characters.
Issues concerning the safety of circle lenses have been well-documented in the U.S. media in recent years.
Many companies selling circle lenses in the U.S. do so illegally, either without requesting a prescription or selling unapproved lenses — or both.
To help avoid the risk of developing a serious lens-related eye infection, always ensure you are buying contact lenses from a legitimate source.
Where to Buy Theatrical and Special Effects Contacts
By law, your eye doctor must give you a copy of your contact lens prescription if you request it, which means you have the option of buying contact lenses from any eye care professional (ECP), optical chains and legitimate online retailers.
The cost of contact lenses with special-effect designs is comparable to that of more conventional color contact lenses designed to enhance or change your eye color.
Custom hand-painted designs, however, can cost significantly more.
To ensure a safe wearing experience, always buy your special-effect contact lenses from an authorized source.