The risks of coloured or tinted contact lens
Today, contact lenses are sold around the world for many more reasons than solely improving vision.
In the East — particularly places like Japan and Korea — circle lenses or ‘Big Eye’ contacts are hugely popular for getting that cute-but-creepy dolly-eyed effect so often seen in anime and manga.
In the West, stars like Lady Gaga and Kanye West have helped popularise cosmetic contacts. Here the focus is less on the size of the iris and more on the different and unique colours and shades like violet and pink.
Earlier this year, we saw Michelle Keegan hit the red carpet adorning a blue jumpsuit and matching contact lenses. All over the web, young women and teenagers regularly share advice on how to wear and where to buy them in Youtube videos and message boards. And the whole cast of Geordie Shore is known to rock coloured lenses when out on the town.
This increasing exposure of contact lenses for cosmetic rather than corrective use is forcing eye doctors to speak out. They may be just another beauty fad, but many are expressing grave concern over their effects on long-term eye health. Recently Glenn Carp from the London Vision Clinic spoke with OK! online to help spread awareness of their dangers and make people aware of the risks they’re taking.
The beauty fad that can rob you of your sight
It’s currently legal for anyone to buy contact lenses in the UK, although it’s strongly advised to do so only after a detailed eye assessment and with a prescription.
Expert laser eye surgeon Glenn Carp says, “Coloured contact lenses tend to be worn as a fashion statement or part of fancy dress, this can often mean they are not fitted correctly or at all as they are often bought on-line or over the counter.” Contact lenses are designed to only be worn by people who need visual aid and have thoroughly considered their risks. The British Contact Lens Association describe these risks on their website, stating that vision loss due to corneal infection from contact lenses affects around 6 in 100,000 wearers annually.
A particularly worrying problem of circle lenses is how they “tend to be larger in size and have a much lower oxygen transmission rate”. Rather than being completely clear, many cover part of the whites of the eye and increase chances of problems like acute red eye.
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Karen Riley, a spokeswoman for the F.D.A., also says that when you buy lenses without help from an eye care professional, you “risk significant eye injuries — even blindness”. What’s more, failing to follow the strict hygiene guidelines, wearing them for too long, and inserting them improperly can lead to scratches, conjunctivitis, and more severe infections.
Ironically, the growing popularity of the lenses could lead to their downfall. Youtuber Ms. Vue, who regularly posts video reviews of circle lenses, told the NY Times that because now everyone is starting to wear them, it makes her not want to anymore.
As they go mainstream, we’ll likely see even wackier versions hit the market — like the popular unicorn lenses. And as more and more people wear them, we’ll no doubt see an increasing number falling victim to their harmful effects. Take heed of the expert’s warnings and don’t be one of them.