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Are Colored Contact Lenses Safe?

Monday, December 1, 2014 @ 10:12 PM
Author: Amit Mathur


Have you ever wished you had dazzling blue eyes, or have you ever admired the unique violet eyes of Elizabeth Taylor and wished you could have the same? You can’t do anything about the genetic hand you were dealt at birth, but you can easily change your eye color at any time you want without surgery. You just need colored contacts.

Colored contacts are tinted to change the color of your iris. An enhancement tint can deepen the intensity of your natural color. For example, if you have light blue eyes, you can make them a deep, dark blue.

What most people think of when they think of colored contacts are opaque tints. These are solid-colored lenses that can be used on dark eyes and that can change your eye literally any color. You can even get specialty lenses such as those that glow in the dark. Costume lenses and those used in the theater and film are opaque tints. These lenses are used in movies like Twilight with fantasy creatures like vampires and werewolves.

Opaque tints can inhibit your vision slightly because they remain fixed while your pupil may not. For example, your pupil gets larger in low-light situations, opening up your field of vision. However, the open area on the contact lens remains the same, so you may have some limited sight.

Color contacts can include vision correction, or they can be purchased simply for fashion. Plano color contacts are those that are worn for cosmetic purposes only.

Whether you are purchasing color contacts for vision correction or not, you must have a prescription for them. The FDA considers color contact lenses to be medical devices, and it is illegal to sell them without a prescription. However, that doesn’t stop people from selling them at flea markets, novelty shops and online.

Wearing colored contact lenses can be perfectly safe — if you buy them with a prescription from a reputable vendor and you follow the right care instructions.

To purchase colored contact lenses, you must visit an ophthalmologist for an eye exam and fitting. Contact lenses are designed to fit the individual wearer. If you put on contact lenses that are not designed for your eye, you risk damaging your eye and losing your eyesight. Your eye doctor will write you a prescription, which you can use to shop online or at an eyeglass shop.

Getting a prescription is the single most important thing you can do to safely wear contact lenses. Other care instructions include:

  • Wash your hands before handling your contact lenses or putting them in your eye.
  • Use a specially designed contact solution to clean your contacts. Never use water or saline and never reuse the solution.
  • Never wear your contact lenses to sleep.
  • Never wear your contact lenses while swimming or showering.
  • Never share contacts with another person.
  • Don’t wear contacts if your eyes are red or irritated.
  • Always clean your contact lens case with the specially designed contact solution, and never transfer solution between cases.
  • Keep the bottle of contact lens solution clean, and don’t allow the tip to become contaminated by touching it with your hand or other surfaces.
  • Replace your contact lenses as recommended by your eye doctor and your case every three months.

These care instructions are designed to minimize the risk of infection. You can spread bacteria through your hands. Water can also spread bacteria and dry out your lenses.

Risks of infection or wearing contact lenses that don’t properly fit include:

  • Scratches and abrasions on the cornea, which is the dome that covers your iris
  • Ulcer on the cornea
  • Infection
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Appearance of blood vessels in the cornea
  • Vision problems
  • Blindness

What may start as a seemingly minor symptom can lead to serious vision problems or loss very quickly. It is important that you see your eye doctor right away if you have any signs of redness, eye pain or vision problems.

You can safely enjoy the many benefits of wearing colored contacts so long as you follow the right care instructions and you see your eye doctor for a proper exam and fitting. You may pay a little extra for the exam, but you’ll pay far less in the long run for medical bills and the personal cost of pain and vision loss. If cost is a concern, you can also talk to your doctor about getting daily disposables, which are a suitable option if you only plan to wear the contacts on special occasions.

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