Halloween is a time for dressing up, and some of the best costumes come with creepy accouterments. If you love a good, old-fashioned scare during the Halloween season, you may be considering using Halloween contact lenses to create a stunning look. Designed to make the eyes look black, zombie-esque, or like snake eyes, Halloween contact lenses are very popular for their shocking appearance. The question, though, is whether they're safe.

Here's what you need to know about the potential risks of Halloween contact lenses, and how to keep your eyes happy and healthy all October long.

How Halloween Contact Lenses Work

Black out Halloween lenses Special-effect (or "theatrical") lenses use tints to transform the look and feel of the eye. This tint masks natural eye color and creates a creepy look that's perfect for Halloween and other dress-up activities. While many people worry that Halloween lenses will impair vision, the center of the lens is clear, so you can see through it while you wear it.

Most novelty lenses cover only the colored portion of the eye. Some special-effect lenses, however, are all-black, all-red, yellow, or white, and may cover both the iris and the white portion of the eye (known as the sclera) to create a truly scary appearance.

While theatrical lenses are popular for Halloween and other dress-up holidays, it's important to remember that they got their start in the movies. Special-effect contact lenses have been used in the film industry since the 1950s, and play a large part in creating the looks needed to put out films like Dracula, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Grinch.

Special-effects lenses go a long way toward allowing people to create unique looks, both on- and off-screen.

Are Halloween Contact Lenses Safe?

Girl in Cat Eye Halloween lenses So you want to enhance your gothica costume, look like a zombie, or black out your eyes for a creepy effect? Halloween contact lenses are here to help. Soft contact lenses that are available for theatrical and novelty use, Halloween contact lenses can be used regardless of whether or not you usually wear contact lenses or eyeglasses. Widely available with and without lens powers, Halloween contact lenses can help correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, or just add a scary layer to your eye!

While Halloween contact lenses may seem like a low-consequence body decoration, it's important to remember that all contact lenses, including the Halloween varieties, are considered medical devices by the FDA. As such, they require a valid contact lens prescription and a visit to an eye doctor.

With this in mind, most experts agree that Halloween contact lenses are safe to wear, just so long as they are applied and cared for correctly.

The Risks of Halloween Contact Lenses

When contact lenses come from sub-par sources, aren't properly used, or aren't prescribed by a skilled eye care professional, difficulties can arise. These complications include the following:

Wolverine cosplay in Halloween lenses • Bacterial eye infections. These typically arise from contaminated, poorly fitted, or improperly applied contact lenses. Talk about spooky and creepy!

• Corneal ulcers. Corneal ulcers and blindness are possible effects from Halloween contact lenses. These complications can arise from bacterial conditions that go untreated, as well as poorly-fitted lenses or lenses that apply too much pressure to the eye. In some rare cases, these complications can cause serious medical issues.

• Discomfort. While it may seem like a small side-effect, discomfort is a real risk of contact lenses. Because they place pressure on the eye, Halloween contact lenses can cause pervasive discomfort which persists for hours after removal of the lens. This illustrates that something is wrong and should be addressed immediately.

Staying Safe With Special-Effect Lenses

So you want to wear special-effect lenses this Halloween season? Great! Here are a few smart ways to stay safe throughout the process:

White out Halloween lenses • Consult your eye doctor. The first step is to talk to your eye doctor about your desire to wear special-effect contact lenses. Contact lenses are safest and most fun when they're professionally prescribed. Not only does this help ensure that your lenses will fit your eyes, but it can cut down on the risk of infection, irritation, ulcers, and blindness.

• Wear them sparingly. If you're going to wear Halloween contact lenses, do so sparingly. Anything that sits on the eye can cause discomfort and irritation over time, and contact lenses are no exception. With this in mind, put the lens in immediately before you leave the house, and take it out as soon as you're ready to get out of your costume. This is one of the best ways to avoid contact lens complications.

• Keep them clean. Care for your special-effect contact lens just like you would anything else you were going to put on your eye. This is a smart approach that will help reduce the risk of bacterial infections and irritation in your eye and throughout your face.

Halloween contact lenses can be fun! If you want to use these exciting accessories this Halloween, contact your eye care provider to get a prescription. Stay safe while ensuring that your costumes are on-point this year!