Today, colored contact lenses are extremely popular. They provide you the opportunity to change your eye color and upgrade your style. For example, you can match your eyes to your outfit or mimic the eye color of your favorite pop culture icon; you can enhance your Halloween costume, play your favorite character at the latest movie premier, or go all-out for a fun costume party.
Sounds great right? After all what harm can come from changing your eye color for a few hours, a few days or even a lifetime?
Contrary to popular belief, contact lenses are a medical device. Yes, even the decorative costume contacts that have zero effect on vision are considered medical devices. By federal law it is illegal to buy/sell these lenses without a valid prescription from your eye doctor or a professional fitting. In fact, those who sell these contact lenses are breaking the law and can face exorbitant fines for each violation.
Decorative colored contact lenses can be purchased just about anywhere. You can grab a pair from many different online or brick-and-mortar stores – no prescription required, no eye doctor recommendation, no fitting necessary.
Think before you buy. Your eyes are unique, shaped differently from all others. Even though these lenses are not for vision correction, they have to be fitted to the shape of your eye; otherwise numerous problems can arise. By purchasing and wearing contact lenses that do not fit properly, you risk vision loss, eye disease and in some cases even blindness. The following are common issues caused by decorative costume lenses.
- A corneal infection, or keratitis, commonly occurs when contacts are not fitted correctly or when lenses are improperly cleaned and cared for. Since most, if not all, decorative contacts come with no fitting procedure and very little application/removal instruction, this is a very real danger. Viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic corneal infections result in pain, redness, discharge, light sensitivity, blurred vision and can quickly progress into an even more severe eye condition.
- A corneal abrasion is a scratch on your cornea that causes severe pain and discomfort, redness, excessive tearing, blurred vision, loss of vision and sensitivity to light. A corneal abrasion that is mild may heal with proper treatment (prescription drops, ointment and eye patching) without permanent damage. Oppositely, a more severe abrasion can result in scarring of the cornea, infections and corneal erosion – all of which may cause permanent vision loss.
- Corneal ulcers (open sores on the cornea) most often come from corneal infections, but also result from extended use of contact lenses, chemical burns and corneal abrasions. Corneal ulcers are characterized by severe pain, redness, blurred vision, discharge and extreme light sensitivity. Corneal ulcers can be treated with antibiotic drops and pain relievers; though some severe cases result in hospitalization, and even corneal transplant.
The Good News
You can wear colored contacts lenses safely if you follow a few simple steps:
- See your eye doctor for an examination.
- Obtain a prescription that includes measurements and a recommended contact lens brand, like FreshLook or Air Optix Colors.
- Purchase your colored lenses from a reputable eye care professional. Preferably one that requires a valid prescription.
- Learn and follow the proper care guidelines for your contacts and eyes.
- Follow-up with your eye doctor after the fitting to ensure a safe fit and healthy vision.
By following these simple tips you can change your look, avoid injury, prevent eye infections and see crisply and clearly well into the future!