Colored contact lenses enhance or change eye color.

What Are the Dangers of Cosmetic Contacts?

by Barrett Barlowe

People say that eyes are the windows to the soul--and contact lenses can act as decorative curtains. Many people use cosmetic contacts to turn eye color into a fashion statement. Being able to turn blue eyes to bright green, or brown eyes to turquoise is tempting, but your eyes are vulnerable to diseases and damage from badly made or poorly handled contact lenses. Any material contacting the surface of the eye must be free of dirt or contamination. The eye needs oxygen to remain healthy, so gas-permeable contact lenses are preferable to non-permeable ones if you plan to wear contacts for extended periods of time.

1. Existing Problems

Before you use cosmetic contacts, make an appointment with an eye doctor. Don't purchase contacts online without a valid prescription. You don't know the condition of your eyes--using cosmetic contact lenses could worsen any preexisting condition. Some people have dry eyes that are more subject to cornea damage. Everyone has different-shaped eyes, and contact lenses must be fitted to an individual to prevent discomfort, impaired vision or eye damage. Never borrow a friend's contact lenses. You might get damaged or dirty contacts.

2. Bad Products/Bad Care

Rough, cheaply made or ill-fitting contacts can scratch your corneas, the covering over the eye's lens, and can cause permanent eyesight damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate costume, or purely cosmetic lenses, such as those that turn eyes into swirls or stripes. The Mayo Clinic warns that such lenses can cause severe eye damage or even blindness. Contact lenses build-up protein deposits from the eye as well as dirt from cosmetics. Unclean, or poorly cleaned lenses make wearers uncomfortable and impair vision. Sometimes, people wear cosmetic contact lenses for parties. If the lenses stay in all night, they can dry out and cause discomfort. Always buy the best contact lenses available. Never leave contacts in longer than recommended, and discard temporary lenses after the recommended time period.

3. Infections

Severe infections can occur when you handle contacts before washing your hands thoroughly. Dirty hands touching eyes or eyelids can lead to many different problems, including pink eye and the common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dirty or contaminated contact lens solution, or improper sterilization of lenses, can lead to inflamed eyes and permanent scarring of the cornea. Contact lenses originally were designed to improve vision, not to improve the way eyes look. When in doubt about eye health or the quality of the contact lenses you use, opt for decorative and elaborate eyeglasses instead.

Photo Credits

  • green lens 2 image by Bosko Martinovic from Fotolia.com