Updated on  December 27, 2022
6 min read

Non-Prescription Colored Contact Lenses

6 sources cited
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Best Colored Contacts

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

Non-prescription colored contacts are soft contacts made from a silicone hydrogel material. People have used them for decades in movies and fashion shoots because they can change your eye color or even the shape of your pupil.

Air Optix Color Eyes
Air Optix Colors Pack

Non-prescription colored contacts have gained mainstream popularity as part of Halloween costumes, cosplay, photoshoots, or everyday aesthetic purposes.

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

Why are Non-Prescription Colored Contacts Illegal?

In the US, it's illegal to sell all types of contacts to people without a valid prescription. This is because the FDA classifies all contact lenses as medical devices.

A prescription from an eye doctor is necessary for all contact lens purchases. This also applies to contacts that are not used for vision correction.

Your eye doctor 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.

Prescription vs. Non-Prescription Colored Contacts

Prescription colored contacts come with a prescription label on them. They can correct vision problems like myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism.

These contacts also change your eye color when worn. They're made out of safe materials and fit snugly into your eyes.

On the other hand, non-prescription colored contacts are sold over the counter. They only change your eye color and don't correct vision problems. These lenses aren't FDA-regulated, so they could contain harmful chemicals.

Purchasing and wearing these lenses can lead to serious health risks. If you wear colored contacts, make sure you get a prescription from an eye doctor first.

Are Fake Contact Lenses Safe?

Any contact brand that does not require a prescription is not safe.

Colored contacts that claim to be a “one-size-fits-all” product can cause severe eye damage. Eyes have different sizes and curvatures, which is why you need a professional contact lens fitting from an eye doctor.

Plenty of verified brands 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.

We Recommend Air Optix Colors for colored contact wearers

Air Optix Colors Pack

What are the Dangers of Fake Contact Lenses?

All types of contact lenses are medical devices. There is a risk of irritation and infection, even when wearing prescription lenses. Fake contact lenses present an even bigger risk.

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. They can also cause other problems, including:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Discharge
  • Eye pain

Bacterial infections can result in permanent vision loss if you don't seek medical treatment immediately.

Where to Buy Colored Contact Lenses

If you're going to buy non-prescription colored contacts, you can buy from trusted retailers online or directly from your doctor's clinic. You should only buy FDA-approved contact lenses from reputable shops.

Avoid buying contacts from:

  • Beauty supply stores or salons
  • Convenience stores
  • Groceries
  • Flea markets
  • Novelty or boutique stores
  • Online retailers that don't require a prescription

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.

Can I Get Prescription Colored Contacts?

You can get prescription colored contacts if you already have a valid contact lens prescription. If you don't have one, you can schedule a contact lens fitting with an eye doctor.

You can also 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. Here's what you can expect from a professional lens fitting:

1. The Doctor Will Perform Several Tests

These tests will determine if your eyes are healthy. If they are, they can recommend contact lenses that fit your lifestyle and budget.

2. You Will Receive a Comprehensive Eye Exam

A doctor may give you a comprehensive eye exam, especially if you haven't received one recently. This exam will determine your contact lens prescription.

They will measure your corneal curvature and eyeball shape. If you have astigmatism, your eyes won't be perfectly rounded, and you may need toric lenses.

Your eye doctor may also measure your pupil and iris size. They can also possibly do a tear film evaluation test.

3. The Doctor Will Give Their Recommendation

Once the necessary information has been gathered, your doctor will be able to provide their recommendation for the specific type of contact lens you can wear.

They will also 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 see how the contact lenses fit you.

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 risk 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 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, or 3 indicator; ensure these digits are not backward.
  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 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 in maintaining proper eye health.

What's Next?

Updated on  December 27, 2022
6 sources cited
Updated on  December 27, 2022
  1. Boyd, K. "Contact Lens-Related Eye Infections." American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2020
  2. Decorative Contact Lenses for Halloween and More.” Center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2021.
  3. "Decorative Contact Lenses." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019.
  4. Gudgel, D.T. “Are Colored Contact Lenses Safe?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2020.
  5. Gudgel, D.T. "Danger: Colored Contacts Can Harm Your Eyes." American Academy of Ophthalmology, 2022.
  6. Staudt, R. "Counterfeit Decorative Contacts Could Irreversibly Damage Your Eyes." Inside Life Changing Medicine, The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 2020.
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