Crackdown on colored contacts ahead of Halloween

October 17, 2012

Caroline O'Donovan

(Flickr/ArunKamaraj)

Selling colored contacts without a licensed optometrist is illegal in Illinois. Even a person with perfect vision risks corneal scratches if a doctor doesn’t fit the lens. The law has been on the books for a few years in Illinois, and costume supply vendors know better than to sell them here.

Halloween Warehouse owner Andrew Schwartz says, “When we speak to the sales people, they ask me where I”m selling, I’ll tell them chicago or Illinois, and they say, Yeah, we can’t even ship to you guys.”

But somehow, that didn’t stop a convenience store in central Illinois from acquiring $1,600 dollars worth of creepy contacts. Their stock was confiscated after a school nurse alerted authorities that a student contracted an infection from the illegal lenses, according to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. They told parents to make sure kids are aware of the dangers of such infections, some of which can lead to permanently impaired vision and even blindness.

Brian Bowers owns the largest Halloween pop-up chain in the city, Halloween Hallway. He says he gets a few calls a week asking for the lenses. He bought a pair of creepy contacts for himself once, but said, even though he trusts the vendors, he never tried them once he heard about the risks.

A downtown eyewear retailer said they used to get more requests for the contacts, but now they get only one or two calls a year. Both Halloween retailers agreed that most party goers willing to risk their vision will probably buy the lenses online.