Updated on 

April 18, 2022

Vision Center is funded by our readers. We may earn commissions if you purchase something via one of our links.

Non-Prescription Colored Contact Lenses

Best Colored Contacts

Non-prescription colored contacts are illegal in the United States. However, colored contact lenses — sometimes called cosmetic, decorative, or costume lenses, are available through a prescription from an eye doctor.

Non-prescription colored contacts are soft contacts. This means they are made from a silicone hydrogel material. They have been used for decades in movies and fashion shoots.

They can change your eyes' appearance by changing your eye color, the shape of your pupil, or applying other creative effects. You may have seen examples of cat eyes, zombie eyes, or blackout lenses online or in magazines.

In recent years, non-prescription colored contacts have gained popularity. Many people wear them for Halloween costumes, cosplay, photoshoots, or just for aesthetic reasons.

It is illegal to sell contacts without a valid prescription in the United States. However, that does not stop many people from selling color contact lenses in stores or at flea markets. 

A prescription from an eye doctor is necessary for all contact lens purchases. Even if the contacts are not used for vision correction.

If you have questions about how to get colored non-prescription contact lenses, visit 1-800 Contacts to learn more.

Why Are Colored Contacts Illegal?

The FDA classifies all contact lenses as medical devices. All types of contacts sold without a prescription are considered illegal. Even if they are just for decoration and will not help you see better.

If you want to wear non-prescription colored contacts, you'll need to get approval from your eye doctor first. They will examine your eyes and then write you a prescription, even if you have normal vision.

Some companies that sell colored contacts may use unsafe materials in their products. You should only buy FDA-approved contact lenses to ensure you don't put yourself at risk.

Are Fake Contact Lenses Safe?

Any contact brand that does not require a prescription is not safe. Colored contacts that say they are “one-size-fits-all” can cause severe damage to your eye. Eyeballs are all different sizes and curvatures.

However, there are plenty of verified brands that sell colored contacts through a prescription from your eye doctor. If you visit an eye care professional for a fitting, you will wind up with a safe product.

What are the Dangers of Fake Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses are medical devices, even colored contacts, and need to be treated as such. Anyone that wears contact lenses runs the risk of irritation and infection. You need to get a complete eye exam and lens fitting from an eye doctor before purchasing. 

If your colored contact lenses are the wrong size or curvature, they can cause irritation or abrasions. These allow bacteria inside and can cause eye infections such as corneal ulcers. This bacterial infection can result in permanent vision loss if you don't seek medical treatment.

Can I Get Prescription Colored Contacts?

Yes, if you already have a valid contacts prescription, you can get colored prescription contact lenses.

If you don't have a contact lens prescription, you can schedule a contact lens fitting with an eye doctor.

Or visit 1-800 Contacts for more information.

What to Expect at a Contact Lens Fitting

If you want to wear non-prescription colored contacts, you'll need to get a fitting from an eye doctor. They will perform several tests and determine if your eyes are healthy. If they are, they can recommend contact lenses that will fit your lifestyle and budget.

A contact lens fitting will begin with a comprehensive eye exam if you have not received one recently. The eye doctor will test your vision to determine your prescription. They will also measure your corneal curvature or the shape of your eyeball.

If you have astigmatism, your eye is not perfectly rounded, and you will need toric lenses. Your eye doctor may also measure your pupil and iris size, and possibly do a tear film evaluation test.

All of this information will let your doctor know if your eyes are healthy enough to wear contacts. If you are, they will then recommend a specific type of contact lens for you to wear as a trial.

They will show you how to insert and remove your lenses and instruct you on how to wear and store your contacts. Usually, you will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment in a week or so to check in.

Note: Once you get a contact lens fitting and a prescription card from your ophthalmologist, you can order non-prescription colored contacts online from retailers like 1-800 Contacts.

How to Wear Colored Contacts Safely 

To wear colored lenses safely, follow the instructions provided by your eye doctor and wear them exactly as prescribed.

Every set of contacts will have a number of days they can be worn before they must be replaced. This ranges from one to 90 days. Never wear your contacts longer than the recommended duration, as you run the risk of getting an infection.

Follow these steps to put contacts in safely and comfortably:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water. Because you’re putting your finger in your eye, you want to make sure that it’s clean. Non-perfumed, antibacterial liquid soap is best.
  2. Make sure you’re holding the contact the right way. It’s easy to confuse which side touches your eye. Put the contact on the index finger or middle finger of your dominant hand. Make sure that it looks like a little bowl. (If it doesn’t, it’s probably inside out). Some lenses have a 1, 2, 3 indicator; make sure that these digits are not backwards.
  3. Hold your eye open with one hand. Hold your upper eyelid open and tug your lower eyelid down. This prevents you from blinking. You also don’t want to get any eyelashes caught under your contact.
  4. Place the contact with the other hand. With your other hand, steadily raise the tip of your finger that’s holding the contact to your eye.
  5. Look upward. As you place the contact in your eye, look upward. You’ll want to place the contact on your eye gently.
  6. Close your eye. After placing the contact, slowly release your eyelids and close your eye. Let the contact settle in place for a moment before opening your eye.
  7. Repeat for your other eye. Repeat steps one through six for your other eye.

Always wash your hands before inserting, removing, or cleaning your contacts. Hygiene is of the utmost importance when it comes to maintaining proper eye health.

What's Next?

3 Cited Research Articles
  1. Boyd, Kierstan. Contact Lens-Related Eye Infections. 23 June 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/contact-lens-related-eye-infections
  2. Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween and More.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/medical-devices/contact-lenses/decorative-contact-lenses-halloween-and-more
  3. Gudgel, Dan T. “Are Colored Contact Lenses Safe?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 7 May 2020, www.aao.org/eye-health/glasses-contacts/colored-lenses.
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Michael is the content strategist and a lead content writer for Vision Center. With eight years of experience in the world of content strategy and creation, Michael specializes in medical copywriting and advanced research methodologies.
Author: Michael Bayba  | UPDATED April 18, 2022
left pointing arrow icon
Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
left pointing arrow icon
Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
Vision Center Logo
The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

All about Vision Center

Other Links

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram