Coloured contact lenses – Advice on fashion costume contacts for cosplay
by Sky Gazzard
Coloured contact lenses are the perfect finishing touch to any cosplay costume. Colour contacts are a near-must for any goth night out. And weirdly enough, coloured contacts are also a cheap(ish) and fascinating way of enhancing your look if you’re a perfectly ordinary mook. Imagine your eyes as being black inky pools, with the iris almost as dark as the pupil. Imagine being a girl of colour with subtle grey or striking blue/green eyes. Do people call you ginger? The fools. With emerald green colour contact lenses they will swoon, and refer to you as auburn, fiery, redheaded, titian.
Eyes can make a difference, that’s for sure.
In our previous Mooky guide to colour contact lenses we look at 6 steps to choosing the perfect coloured contacts for you and your personality.
Now, we’ll answer any health and safety FAQs you might have about looking after your coloured contacts. Don’t file this under your boring – these are your irreplaceable eyes we’re talking about, and if you splash out on some lovely colour contact lenses on the internet, we want to make sure you get ones that will be good for your eyes.
How safe are Fashion contact lenses?
Question: What do the cast of Twilight, Marilyn Manson and Britney Spears have in common?
Answer: They all wear fashion contact lenses.
Whether you’re just going for a subtle colour change or want a head-turning special effect, there are a wide variety of designs out there – from special FX contact lenses to subtle cosmetic contacts that add a subtle shade to your eyes.
Fashion lenses share the risks that are associated with contact lenses. Contact lens wearers will know all about these. Pure-sighted mooks with a taste for novelty won’t – so it’s you we’re talking to.
You can expect mild irritation when you insert the lens; this should decrease as you become used to wearing contacts and the eye builds up a tolerance to them.
We’ll take some worst case scenarios now, just so you know. These are, on the whole, caused by you being a dirty urchin who uses mud for eyeshadow and flings scissors in her eyes. But still…
Bacteria can breed between the cornea and the lens leading to infections like Conjunctivitis where the eye/eyes appear red and may be crusty.
These are open sores on the cornea (the transparent outer layer of the eye) caused by trauma to the eye.
This is a risk particularly if the lens doesn’t fit well; a common problem with fashion lenses. If you get a scratched cornea, the best thing to do is take any fashion/prescription lenses out, switch to blindness/glasses for a good few days, and make sure your eyes stay clean and moist. Eyedrops and time are recommended.
The cornea heals very quickly from minor scratches, however if the scratch penetrates more deeply, healing time increases – resulting in greater pain, blurred vision, tearing, redness and extreme sensitivity to light. These symptoms require professional treatment. Scarring could also form which may produce a haze on the cornea impairing vision. A corneal transplant may be needed.
In rare cases, the conditions listed above can cause blindness.
What increases the risks of getting an eye infection?
Scleral lenses – lenses that cover the whole eye (e.g. Dark Willow in buffy the vampire slayer) should not be worn for more than 3 hours as they can cause temporary vision disturbances. They are difficult to insert and do not move well with the eye.
Overnight wear of all contact lenses (unless they’re special ones tailored to do this) increases the risk of infection; remember to take them out!
The GOOD news for prescription and fashion contacts
Complications due to contact lens wear affect roughly 5% of contact lens wearers each year.
Excessive wear of contact lenses, particularly overnight wear, is associated with most of the safety concerns. In most cases, it’s not what you buy – it’s how you treat it once you put it in your eye. Keeping your grubby fingers clean when you pop your contacts in and remembering to take them out goes a long way to good eye care.
Important things to remember
· Make sure your lenses are CE (This product meets european product safety requirements) or FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved.
· Contact lenses have an expiry date; the cheaper lenses usually last 30 days after opening.
· Do not wear overnight
· Wash your hands with soap prior to handling contact lenses or touching your eye
· Do not share your lenses with someone else
· Do not take your lenses in and out repeatedly throughout the day
· Follow instructions for inserting and cleaning your lenses (They will list many points not listed here)
Signs you should visit the doctor
redness for more than two days
your eye feeling scratchy or gritty
excess tears (and not from watching ‘Moulin Rouge’ too many times
sensitivity to light
Buying coloured contact lenses (online, usually)
Check out our guide to choose the perfect colour contact lenses for you. Moving on…
Obviously, the easiest way to buy coloured contact lenses is online. If you have perfect eyesight, you’ll be going for fashion lenses (non-prescription). The university of Michigan eye centre recommends that you do not use fashion lenses (non-prescription colour lenses) unless they are fitted by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist.
Some fashion lens sellers list the dimension of the lenses.
By visiting an optician and getting a prescription you can buy fashion contacts to your specification. If you visit an optician, make sure in advance that they will give you your prescription even if you buy your fashion contact lenses online and not from them.
FDA also reccomends you ‘Buy the lenses from an eye care professional or from a vendor who requires that you provide prescription information for the lenses.’
So, fashion lenses (other than scleral lenses) run the same risks as normal contact lenses and should be treated with as much care to avoid any problems.
Wikipedia (2010) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contact_lens
The university of Michigan kellogg eye center 2010 http://www.kellogg.umich.edu/patientcare/conditions/contact.lenses.html
FDA 2009 http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ContactLenses/ucm062589.htm
National eye institute 2010 http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/cornealdisease/