If you have ever wanted to change up the appearance of your eyes, then chances are you may have considered colored contact lenses. While some people may use makeup or even surgical procedures to enhance their eyes, the only way you can actually change the color of your eyes is to do so temporarily through the use of colored lenses. While colored contact lenses are common and perfectly safe when prescribed by a doctor, it's important to know the basics before you decide to update your look with a new eye color. We will introduce you to the basic information regarding colored contact lenses, how they work, their safety and care, as well as their proper use - and avoiding the abuse of these special contact lenses.
Prescription Colored Contact Lenses
Colored contact lenses work their magic by temporarily altering the color of the iris, which is the pigmented portion of the eye surrounding the black pupil. Of course, these contact lenses aren't actually magic. The way colored contact lenses work is simple; the area that covers the colored portion of your eye is tinted to either enhance or change your natural color. While this colored portion is externally visible to others and to yourself in the mirror, you will still enjoy perfectly clear, uncolored vision through your new lenses.
Other than the tinting technology applied to them, colored contact lenses operate exactly the same way as regular contact lenses do. Sometimes, colored contact lenses can be just slightly thicker than regular contacts, but most people find the difference undetectable. Because colored contact lenses function in essentially the same way that regular contacts lenses do, that means colored contacts can also be used to correct common vision problems such as farsightedness and nearsightedness.
Colored Contact Lenses for Astigmatism
Sometimes, colored contact lenses can be used to treat astigmatism. Astigmatism requires special soft contact lenses called toric lenses. Toric lenses are specially designed to include different lens powers in different sections of each contact, as well as asymmetrical weight to help prevent the contact from rotating on the eye. Because of the costs and complications involved in this special design process, very few companies manufacture colored toric lenses.
That being said, there are a few options for those with astigmatism who are set on altering their eye color with contact lenses. If you have a very slight degree of astigmatism, your doctor may be able to prescribe you non-toric colored contact lenses. You may also be able to request custom colored contacts, but note that they would be costly. If your astigmatism is high, then you will have few options. However, you may consider pursuing LASIK eye surgery to correct your astigmatism, then request cosmetic-colored contacts from your eye doctor. These possibilities rely on consulting with your doctor to determine your degree of astigmatism and the best possible treatment options available for you.
Are Colored Contacts Safe?
Prescription colored contact lenses are just as safe as regular prescription contacts, so long as they are only worn as prescribed by your doctor. If your doctor has told you that you can wear regular contact lenses, then most likely, you can wear colored contact lenses too.
So what if you don't need a prescription to see? Those who have perfect vision can safely wear colored contact lenses, too. Colored contacts for those who don't need vision correction still need to be prescribed to ensure that they fit the unique shape of each person's eyes.
Colored contact lenses are considered medical devices in the United States, meaning that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carefully monitors for the safe manufacturing, prescribing, marketing, and use of colored contacts. Remember, just like regular contacts, much of the safety still relies on the wearer's proper hygiene and use of contact lenses. Whether you have regular contact lenses or colored contact lenses, it is never safe to share your prescription contacts with anyone else, nor is it safe to wear them for extended periods of time.
Proper Care of Colored Contact Lenses
Just like regular contact lenses, it's important to follow the directions provided by your eye doctor. Wash your hands prior to inserting your colored contacts, and regularly cleanse and disinfect your contacts using contact lens solution. Do not let your solution or your colored contact lenses expire. Change your colored contact lenses regularly, as prescribed by your doctor and described on the contacts' packaging. You may also wish to label your colored contact lens cases to help distinguish them from your regular contact lenses if you have them.
Just like a regular contact lens wearer, colored contact lens wearers should give their eyes periodic breaks. It's good to let the eye 'breathe' oxygen, unencumbered by a lens, on a regular basis to help avoid dryness and irritation. Keeping a pair of prescription glasses can help you maintain clear vision while also giving your eyes a well-deserved break from contacts. Never sleep in your contact lenses.
Finally, remove your colored contact lenses, and be sure to let your doctor know if you feel any discomfort or experience a sudden change in vision at any time.
Why Buying Colored Contacts Without Prescription is Dangerous
Non-prescription colored contact lenses can be extremely harmful and should be entirely avoided. It is illegal to sell non-FDA-approved contact lenses in the United States, but there are still less than reputable retailers who will still attempt to sell them, especially online. Any contact lens that has not been prescribed by your doctor has not been properly fitted to your unique eye shape. Ill-fitting contacts, whether colored or not, can scratch your cornea, potentially leading to infections, corneal ulcers, scarring, drooping eyelids, and even blindness.
Furthermore, some of the low-quality cosmetic lenses on the market for Halloween and other custom purposes contain harmful paints, rough surfaces, and even chlorine - all not meant for contact with the human eye. Again, because they are not monitored and approved by the FDA, there is no way to assure safety in non-medical grade, illegal colored contacts.
Don't fall prey to unscrupulous, illegal-colored contact sellers. An experienced eye doctor would be more than happy to explore the fun and safe options that are available to you in the world of prescription colored contact lenses. If you'd like to experience a change to the appearance of your eye color, we can help you find the prescription that meets your unique vision and eye care needs. Contact us today to learn more about our colored contact lens options!