Buying Cosmetic Contact Lenses?

All contact lenses — even purely cosmetic ones — require a prescription.

Anyone who sells you lenses without your prescription is selling them illegally. That’s important because contacts that don’t fit can cause serious eye problems.

What Are Cosmetic Contacts?

Whether you're planning to cap off a costume with a pair of cat-eye lenses, get the big-eye look of circle lenses, or switch your eye color from blue to violet for the day, cosmetic contacts — contact lenses meant to change the way your eye looks rather than correct your vision — may seem like just another fashion accessory.

But all contact lenses — even purely cosmetic ones — require a prescription. Businesses that sell cosmetic lenses without a prescription are selling them illegally. 

Why Get a Prescription?

Lenses need to fit your eye correctly. If they don't, or if they aren't used and cared for properly, they can cause problems like:

  • conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • scratches
  • sores on your cornea
  • blindness

If you're in the market for cosmetic contacts, see an eye care professional for an eye exam and prescription. Don't do business with anyone who doesn't require one. 

Getting Your Prescription Should Be Easy

Your eye care provider has to give you a copy of your contact lens and eyeglass prescriptions, even if you don't ask for them. You're free to take them and buy your eyewear elsewhere — from an optometrist, an ophthalmologist, a dispensing optician, or a specialty shop, large wholesale store, or online retailer. 

To make shopping for contacts or glasses more efficient:

  • Get your prescriptions. You're entitled to a copy of your eyeglass prescription at the end of your eye exam, and your contact lens prescription when your fitting is complete (which could mean more than one appointment).
  • Keep your prescriptions. File them with your medical records and keep them current so you have them when you need them.
  • Send your prescription for contacts. You can buy contacts from a seller other than your eye care provider. Unless you send the seller a copy of your prescription to fill your order, the seller has to verify it with your eye care provider. You can start the verification process by giving the seller certain information — for example, the type of lenses, their manufacturer, power, base curve, and diameter.

This article was previously available as Avoiding an Eyesore: What to Know Before You Buy Cosmetic Contacts.

Tagged with: eye care, prescription