5 Scariest Halloween Eye Hazards

Turn fright night into sight night with these useful tips.

Kid in Halloween costume and face paint.

The annual night of fright is an exciting holiday for young children, but it’s potentially dangerous when it comes to their eye health. When you head out for trick-or-treating, stay safe with these five tips.

Has it been a while since your last eye checkup? Now’s the time to book an appointment!  

1. Pass on Decorative Contacts

Spooky contact lenses amplify the terror on Halloween, but they are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and can be extremely harmful to young ghosts and ghouls—especially those with no history of prior contact use. 

A team of French researchers noted that non-prescription contact lenses put wearers at an increased risk for an eye sore called keratitis (inflamed cornea). They reported their findings in the journal of French ophthalmology, noting that these lenses “may have dramatic consequences.”
What’s more, it’s illegal to sell any kind of contacts without a prescription in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So that online deal for the bloodred lenses? Keep shopping. Not only can these contacts lead to irritation or scratching of the eye’s outer layer, but they can also cause serious infection and lead to permanent vision loss. 

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2. Nix Vision-Obstructing Masks 

Pirates, mummies, superheroes, ghosts—costumes can still spook without impairing vision. 

The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that parents inspect costume materials closely to confirm that a child’s vision is not blocked by eye patches, sunglasses, wigs, hats, or copious amounts of wraps, drapes, or gauze.

If your child would like to wear a costume that minimally disrupts the field of vision, make sure to hold their hand or closely accompany them as they trick or treat.

3. Veto Pointed Props

Children often feel that Halloween is a time to wield swords or use magic wands to sprinkle pixie dust, which is especially dangerous to unprotected eyes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. 

Double-check that your child handles these items carefully (no play fighting with swords or wands). Props should always be pointed downward and kept far away from faces. 

To prevent tripping with a pointy item in hand, discourage running while trick-or-treating.

4. Look for Hypoallergenic Makeup 

Finishing your prize-winning costume often requires face makeup or paint. Use hypoallergenic products and take care to keep it far away from your child’s eyes. 

Glitter bits and flakes of eye shadow can irritate and inflame, says Julie Schaefer, O.D., an optometrist with South Florida Regional Eye Associates located in an America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses in Pinellas Park. And dangerous ingredients or contaminated products can cause bacterial or fungal infections.

If your child wears contact lenses, take extra care with any eye makeup. “Contact lenses love to hang on to the bits of mascara or eye shadow that get into your eyes with application and can lead to blurry vision and discomfort,” she says.

Also, avoid makeup or paint on the forehead, since sweating can cause the product to run into the eyes and irritate them, according to Jennifer Craig, Ph.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Auckland School of Medicine in New Zealand, who co-authored a 2018 review of the ways various eye products can harm eye health. 

Pro tip: Take a damp washcloth with you to quickly wipe away any runny makeup that may be heading toward the eyes. 

No matter how cranky and tired your child is at the end of the night, make sure to remove all face makeup, says Dr. Schaefer. 
To safely remove makeup near the eye, follow these three steps:

  1. Soak a fresh cotton pad or swab in a gentle-formula, unscented eye-makeup remover.
  2. Use a light touch (don’t scrub!) to swipe the pad over your eyelids and lash line, taking care to keep your eyes closed.
  3. Follow with a quick rins.

5. Make Your Child Visible 

Since trick-or-treating often begins at dusk, so it’s crucial that your child can see and be seen. 

Stick to well-lit neighborhoods and paths, and incorporate light into the trick-or-treat pail and add reflective tape to costumes. Alternatively, give them a small flashlight (or carry it for them). If your child is young, accompany them up any particularly steep or dimly lit porch steps. 

Also, tell your child to also pay close attention to lawns and grassy areas, since it can be difficult to see changes in the terrain, and make sure they know to look for cars before crossing the street. If possible, try to trick-or-treat earlier in the evening, so you have as much light as possible.