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Are Colored Contact Lenses Safe?

Contacts Types

structure image Are Colored Contact Lenses Safe?


What Are Colored Contact Lenses?

Colored contact lenses contain a colored dye deposited into the lens material. The amount of dye in the lenses depends on why they will be worn. For example, some contacts aim only to enhance the wearer’s natural eye color. Others make the wearer’s eyes look like a totally different color.

You can wear colored contacts to correct hyperopia (farsightedness), myopia (nearsightedness), or astigmatism. You can also get them with no lens power and wear them only to change your eye color.

Are Colored Contact Lenses Safe?

All contact lenses are medical devices. Federal law restricts the distribution of color contacts to licensed eye care professionals.

The best way to make sure your colored contact lenses are safe is to see your eye doctor first. They will determine if colored contacts are a good option for you. If so, they’ll measure your eyes to properly fit the lenses, give you a prescription, and explain how to take care of them.

It’s important to follow your eye doctor’s instructions, especially when it comes to how long to wear your lenses and when to replace them.

Do You Need a Prescription?

Yes, you do need a prescription from a qualified eye care professional to legally buy any type of contact lenses in the U.S., even if they’re only worn for cosmetic purposes.

Once you have a prescription, buy your contacts from a retailer that requires a prescription and that only sells contact lenses that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Illegal Contact Lenses Aren’t Safe

Beware of contacts — especially costume contact lenses — that you may see for sale at costume shops, beauty salons, flea markets, or gas stations that don’t require a prescription. These are illegal lenses, and they can cause serious damage to your eyes, such as:

  • Corneal abrasions – a scratch on the cornea
  • Corneal ulcers – an open sore in the outer layer of the cornea that’s often caused by infection
  • Bacterial infection – an infection such as keratitis, which is painful and could cause blindness
  • Allergic reaction – a reaction to the lenses, such as itchy, watery, and/or red eyes
  • Decreased vision
  • Blindness

How To Safely Wear Colored Lenses

The guidelines for safely wearing color contacts are the same as for any type of contact lens:

  • Never share your lenses. Your colored lenses are made only for you. Sharing your contacts can transmit harmful bacteria which can cause an eye infection.
  • Care for them the right way. Be sure to clean, disinfect and store your lenses correctly.
  • Replace your lenses as scheduled. Colored contact lenses are available in disposable daily, biweekly, and monthly varieties. Replace your lenses as directed.
  • Don’t wear color contacts if you’re experiencing any eye irritation. Red, irritated, and/or sore eyes could be a sign that you have an eye infection or other serious problem. Make an appointment with an eye doctor if you have any of these symptoms.

Types of Colored Contacts

If you decide to try colored contact lenses, there are several types from which to choose:

  • Visibility tints. A light blue or green color is added to your contacts so you can see them better in your hand, in their case, or if you drop them. The visibility tint doesn’t affect your eye color.
  • Enhancement tint. These contacts are a translucent color similar to your iris (the colored part of your eye). They are designed to boost your natural eye color instead of changing it.
  • Opaque tint contacts. These colored contacts can make your eyes look like they’re a completely different color.
  • Blending tints. The color in blending tint contacts becomes gradually more opaque from the outside edges in so your new eye color looks more natural.

Decorative Contacts

Decorative contact lenses are another type of colored contacts that can change the look of your eyes in many ways. These lenses can create special effects such as glowing under black lights, they can alter the eye’s color or pupil shape, and they can make your eyes look like cat eyes or vampire eyes. They can also be made with or without vision correction.

Decorative contacts are also called:

  • Halloween contact lenses
  • Fashion contact lenses
  • Colored contact lenses
  • Cosmetic contact lenses
  • Theater contact lenses

Colored contact lenses can provide a fun way to change up your look every day or for special occasions. Keep your eyes safe by having colored contacts fitted by your eye doctor, getting a legal prescription, and buying them from a retailer that sells FDA-approved contact lenses.