Colored contacts: going all the way
Dressing up in costumes is not only something children do when Halloween comes using homemade material and their mothers help. It has become a huge market where events, competitions and masses of fans aim to create professional costumes and outfits. Material, colors, accessories need to be just right and one of the ways to create that exact look you’re going for is wearing colored contacts. Such lenses are known as costume contact lenses or theatrical lenses.
You can aim to have eyes like an alien, cat, zombie, demon, or just change the natural color to a vivid violet, yellow even lidless black. These colored contacts are mostly without vision correction, although you can have one prescribed with certain diopters as well. With the popularity of dress ups increasing, more and more costume contacts find their way to commercial sale. These are however still contact lenses, medical devices that need to be used according to your optometrists prescription and not bought at a flea market. No need to give up on adding a special touch to your costume with lenses, but make sure to be safe about using them.
The risk of colored contacts
The main risk you run when applying colored contacts from an unsafe source is infection. It is not something that is visible, you’ll only know once it’s too late and you’re sitting at the eye doctors examination room with red, sore eyes.
Wearing non prescribed costume lenses can also cause eye injuries. Since part of the prescription is to measure your eye during an examination, the lenses prescribed will definitely fit your eye. In contrast to that, ill-fitting lenses can hurt, more importantly cut and scratch your eye that may permanently scar. There are some extreme cases known, where a patients eye could only be saved with surgery, for example corneal transplant. Some of the more serious conditions mis-sized colored contacts can cause are corneal ulcers and abrasions, while infections could even lead to keratitis.
A more common issue with costume lenses is not letting enough oxygen through. The eye needs to breathe, and a lens thick with pigments and paint will not let that happen, so it’s important not to over wear them. So feel free to wear colored contacts, but remember that you’ll be applying it to your eye and stay on the safe side: prescribe your contact from an optometrist.
Eye exam for colored contacts
Whether you’re looking to change your eye color or an opaque tint, you’ll need to get an appointment and do an eye exam for your colored contacts. The optometrist or ophthalmologist will measure your eye to make sure the prescribed lenses will fit you properly. Colored contacts are usually transparent in the middle, at the part centered around your pupils, so your vision isn’t affected. They will however have colored tint above your iris. If the measurements are incorrect – or haven’t been done at all – the colored part can reach all the way above your pupils affecting your vision. This is quite uncomfortable to wear and will cause uncertainty as well. A well fitted lens also follows the shape of your eye, not only in case of colored contacts, but with regular lenses as well.
During the exam, the eye doctor will also assess if you are capable of handling the lenses. Will you be able to keep them clean, apply them according to the instructions? Are you prone to infections, dry eye, do you have severe allergies? You might be exposed to smoke or dust for longer periods of time. All these reasons could make you ill fit to wearing contact lenses in general. This means that if you were prescribed colored contacts, you will likely have issues that cause consequences, so it is in your best interest not to do it. In case you are fit to apply them, make sure to follow day to day lens care and never wear the contacts longer than instructed.
What kind of colored contacts to buy?
The best way to go around any risks is to ask advice from your optometrist. Some of them actually sell colored contacts, though you might need a wider selection than what they can offer. Feel free to buy online, just be mindful of what you’re doing. As discussed, one of the main reasons of getting a prescription is to get your measurements right. If you’re buying online and the process never asks for the diameter of your eye, it means you’ll be receiving the same size as anybody else. Knowing the risks that would run it’s best to choose another supplier.
After receiving your colored contacts, you can also make a second appointment with your eye doctor so they can look at the applied lenses, make sure it fits properly, they’re not too small or tight and there are no air bubbles. Make sure to buy lenses that breathe well, possibly with high oxygen levels. This is a good idea in case of regular correction lenses as well. In general make sure to buy quality lenses and only do from a trusted source.
It’s also important to brush up on your knowledge on lens care. Whatever a person wearing correction lenses needs to know, you should know as well if you want to wear costume lenses. You need to know how to be hygienic about it, how often you should replace it, how long you can wear them. So feel free to have fun, but remember, that a colored lens is not an accessory.