October is one of the best months of the year because it marks the official transition from summer into fall. The leaves have turned, the weather has gotten chillier and pumpkin spice lattes are once again all the rave—like clockwork. October also marks the beginning of the festive season, giving us the first opportunity to dress up with Halloween. 

While dressing as your favorite fictional character can be fun, one staple of a lot of Halloween costumes has been contact lenses and because of their ubiquity, most people forget that contact lenses—decorative or not—are medical devices, not accessories. Because of this, Prevent Blindness declared October as Contact Lens Safety Month in an effort to educate the masses about the effects of misusing them.

Prevent Blindness reported the Centers for Disease Control estimate 45 million people in the U. S. use contact lenses, and serious eye infections that can lead to blindness affect up to one out of every 500 contact lenses users a year.

The organization also stated that 40 percent to 90 percent of contact lens wearers do not properly follow the care instructions for their lenses and that many people aren’t even aware that the FDA regulates contact lenses and certain contact lens care products as medical devices, classifying them not as OTC devices.

Holidays such as Halloween see quite a lot of use in contact lenses as they add that extra pop to a lot of costumes. However, a survey from the American Academy of Optometry found that 11 percent of consumers have worn decorative, non-corrective contact lenses and of those wearers, 53 percent purchased them illegally without a prescription.

The use of nonprescription contact lenses can lead to eye infections, vision change, watering and redness of eyes as well as unexplained eye discomfort. In addition, if you do have a prescription for your contacts, it’s also equally important that you follow directions and practice wearing them per doctor’s recommendation.

So, before you play your role as the Wicked Witch of the West, Lord Voldermort or Dracula this Halloween, here is a glimpse of how some ECPs have been promoting Contact Lens Safety Month online.

Red Springs Eye Clinic in Red Springs, N.C. reminds patients that safe contact lens use is a year-round task.

The Eye Geek advises patients only be fitted with contact lenses by an ECP.

Karwoski Family Vision in Winfield, Ill., warns patients that eye infections associated with illegal CLs can be a nightmare.

Parkway EyeCare Center in Irvington, N.J. advises trick or treaters that cheap contact lenses can cause serious eye problems.

South Shores Eyecare Associates in Staten Island, N.Y. wants patients to realize that contact lenses do not adhere to the one size fits all rule.

Tecumseh Vision Source in Tecumseh, Okla. knows the scariest part of Halloween is an unwanted eye infection.