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What Are the Different Types of Tinted Contact Lenses?

Contact Type

structure image What Are the Different Types of Tinted Contact Lenses?


What Are Tinted Contact Lenses?

Tinted contact lenses are contacts that have a colored dye mixed into the lens material. The color of the dye and the amount used in the lenses determines how intense the color is. This changes based on how the lenses will be used.

Most tinted contacts are designed to look like the iris — the colored part of the eye. Some tinted lenses have tiny colored dots, lines and shapes coming out from the center of the lens to help the lenses look more natural.

There are a number of different types of tinted contacts lenses, including the following:

Visibility Tint Contacts

Visibility tints are the most common type of contact lens coloring. They’re designed to be extra convenient for wearers.

Contacts are naturally clear and can be hard to see in your lens case, in your hand or if you drop them. Many contact lens manufacturers add a light visibility tint that looks light blue or green so you can see your contacts better.

The tints in these colored contact lenses are faint and don’t make your eyes look like they’re a different color.

Enhancement Tint Contacts

Enhancement tint contact lenses intensify your natural eye color. The dye in these lenses is darker than a visibility tint but is still translucent (see-through).

The dye in these colored contacts interacts with your iris to boost your natural eye color instead of dramatically changing it. For example, enhancement tint contact lenses can make blue eyes look aqua or green eyes appear emerald.

Enhancement tint contacts work the best for people who have light-colored eyes and want to make their eye color more vibrant.

Opaque Tint Contacts

If you want to completely change the color of your eyes, opaque tint contact lenses are the way to go. These colored contacts can make dark eyes look light and vice versa.

These lenses are called opaque because light doesn’t pass through the tinted part of the lens as it does with most enhancement tint lenses. Opaque contact lenses are also known as eye color changing contact lenses and are the best choice for people with dark eyes.

Most enhancement tint and opaque tint contacts come in a variety of colors including:

  • Sterling gray
  • Brilliant blue
  • Gemstone green
  • True sapphire
  • Pure hazel
  • Gray
  • Blue
  • Turquoise
  • Green
  • Amethyst
  • Honey
  • Brown

Theatrical Tints

For people who want a more dramatic look, opaque tint lenses are also available with theatrical or special effects.

Effects include:

  • Glow under black lights
  • Cat eyes
  • Wild eyes
  • Athletic team logos
  • Reptile eyes
  • Vampire eyes
  • Completely black

Do You Need a Prescription for Tinted Contacts?

All contacts — even those worn for cosmetic purposes only — are considered medical devices. This means you need a current prescription to buy tinted contacts.

If you buy your tinted contact lenses online, get them from a site that requires a prescription. In the U.S., it’s illegal to sell colored contacts without a prescription.

Are Tinted Contacts Safe?

Yes. The dyes used in tinted contact lenses have been extensively tested and are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You can ensure your tinted contacts are safe by having them fitted by your eye doctor and taking care of them the right way.

Do Tinted Contact Lenses Need Special Care?

In general, you take care of tinted lenses the same way as non-tinted lenses: Any time you remove a contact, clean and disinfect it before you put it back in your eye. Some contacts with tint need special care, such as not being heat disinfected to prevent them from fading. Your eye doctor can tell you how to care for your lenses.

Can Anyone Wear Tinted Contact Lenses?

You can wear enhancement tint or opaque tint contacts even if you don’t need them to help you see better. These are often called cosmetic or decorative contact lenses and don’t have any vision correction in the lens.

Not all contact lens prescriptions can be tinted. Your eye doctor can tell you if tinted contact lenses are available for your vision prescription.

Will the Color Fade?

In most cases the color will fade over time. The good news is that you’ll probably have replaced your contact lenses before any fading is noticeable.

How To Choose the Right Tinted Contact Lenses for You

If you’re considering tinted lenses, the first step is to see your eye doctor. They will give you a comprehensive exam to be sure your eyes are healthy, and they can professionally fit you with tinted contacts. Your eye doctor can also suggest what colors would look best, and you can try different colors during your appointment.

Tinted contact lenses are a safe and fun way to naturally enhance, intensify or change your eye color. They shouldn’t feel uncomfortable while you’re wearing them, so be sure to tell your eye doctor if your eyes are red or irritated, or if you notice any changes in your vision.