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Coloured/Cosmetic Contact lens

Contact lens is an alternative device used to correct refractive error. They are used by people who are not keen to wear spectacles especially those youngsters who care for their appearance and also those who are active in sports. However, with the emergence of coloured contact lenses, they have become popular cosmetic accessories to enhance beauty. Due to an increasing demand for coloured contact lens, many unauthorised agents started to sell them directly to public without going through authorised practitioners.

Examples of coloured/cosmetic contact lens

Problem Related To Cosmetic Contact Lens

There are a few issues related to cosmetic contact lens that need to be addressed. These are:

  • An increasing trend in using cosmetic contact lens especially amongst youngsters
  • Dispensing of contact lens by unauthorised agents
  • Sharing of cosmetic contact lens by users to save cost
  • Poor awareness on risk related to cosmetic contact lens amongst the public

1. Increasing trend in cosmetic contact lens usage

Normal eyes have pigmented tissues around the pupils known as iris, which have different shade of colours. Majority of Asian people has light to dark brown iris or even blackish iris. With the advancement of technology in producing coloured contact lens, wide range of coloured lenses are produced for various purposes such as:

  • To enhance beauty of the eyes.
  • To create different appearance by users (eg. by artists for certain character in film)
  • To imitate and follow the appearance of their idol (artist).
Cosmetic lens that enhance beauty Cosmetic lens that change appearance

2. Dispensing of cosmetic contact lens by unauthorized agents

Today, cosmetic contact lens can be purchased easily by anyone from street vendor, a beauty store, flea market and even from Night market (Pasar malam). They can also be purchased on line. Contact lens user especially those with no sight problem purchased and used cosmetic lens without having had their eyes examined by Optometrist or Eye doctor. Since purchasing is done from unauthorized agents, the users may not be equipped with the knowledge on handling and care of contact lens, precautions to take when using contact lens and complications related to contact lens itself.

3. Sharing of cosmetic contact lens

Majority of coloured contact lens are plano lenses (lenses with no refractive power), therefore sharing of cosmetic lens amongst users are quite common. These happen for various reasons and occasions such as:

  • To get wider range of colours and pattern with less cost
  • To match the fashion and colour of the dress during wedding ceremony by ‘Mak Andam’ or by beautician.

4. Poor awareness on risk related to cosmetic contact lens amongst public

Wearers usually view cosmetic lenses as clothing accessories. They are unaware that cosmetic contact lenses have similar risks and complications as prescribed contact lenses. Not much information related to problems of cosmetic contact lenses are being published relative to the good aspect about them as portrayed in the advertisements on line by the suppliers and sellers.

What You Should Know About Cosmetic Contact Lens

If you wish to use cosmetic contact lens, do pay attention on these:

  • Things to do before using cosmetic contact lens
  • Handling and care of cosmetic contact lens
  • Risks and complications related to cosmetic contact lens

Wearing any kind of contact lenses, including decorative/cosmetic ones, can cause serious damage to your eyes if the lenses are not used correctly.

1. Things to do before using of cosmetic contact lens

Do get an eye examination!

A qualified eye doctor or optometrist will examine your eyes to make sure that your eyes are suitable for contact lens usage. The Eye doctor will then take some measurement of your eyes to make sure the contact lenses can fit properly. A wrong fit can cause damage to your eyes. If a lens is too tight, it can squeeze and cause scratches. If it’s too loose, it’ll roll around and usually falls out.

Blepharitis (dirty eyelids) Conjunctivitis Corneal vessels (unhealthy cornea)

During examination, an Eye doctor/Optometrist will look for signs of eye infection, inflammation, dry eyes or unhealthy cornea and decide if contact lenses are suitable for those with the above conditions.

Do get a prescription!

Your Eye doctor/qualified Optometrist will write you a prescription for all contact lenses, including decorative lenses. The prescription should include the brand name, correct lens measurements and expiration date.

Do follow the contact lens care instructions!

Follow the instructions from your optometrist regarding the wearing, cleaning and disinfecting that come with your contact lenses. If you do not receive instructions, ask an eye doctor for them.

2. Handling and care of cosmetic contact lens Wearing cosmetic contact lens is not as simple as the putting on of other cosmetic accessories such as false eyelashes or ear rings to match your dress. Contact lens needs proper handling and specific care. If you do not handle the lenses according to instruction, you might end up with serious complications.To avoid vision-threatening complications, you must carefully follow directions for lens care as follows:

  1. Before handling contact lenses, wash and rinse hands. Use a mild non-cosmetic soap.
  2. Dry hands with a clean, lint-free towel.
  3. If you use hair spray, use it before you put in your contacts. It’s also a good idea to keep your fingernails short and smooth to avoid damaging your lenses or scratching the eye.
  4. After your contact lenses are in your eyes, put on makeup so you don’t get any on your lenses. Take out contact lenses before you remove makeup for the same reason.
  5. Different types of contact lenses require different handling and with certain types of agents. Always use the disinfecting solution, eye drops, and enzymatic cleaners your eye care professional recommended.
  6. Never use tap water directly on lenses, Microorganisms can live in even distilled water, causing infection or sight damage.
  7. Clean each contact lens by rubbing it gently with your index finger in the palm of your other hand. Lightly rubbing your contact removes surface build up.

Clean your contact lens case every time you use it with either sterile solution or hot tap water. Let it air dry. 3. Risks and complications Risks and complications of cosmetic contact lens are similar to those of prescribed contact lens used for sight correction. These risks include:

  • A cut or scratch on the top layer of your eyeball (Corneal Abrasion)
  • Allergic reactions like itchy, watery red eyes
  • Decreased vision
  • Infection ( conjunctivitis or corneal ulcer)
  • Blindness

When wearing any type of contact lenses, be aware of signs of possible eye infection, which include:

  • Redness
  • Pain in the eye(s) that doesn’t go away after a short period of time
  • Decreased vision
  • Eye discharge

When you experience those symptoms, STOP using your contact lenses and visit your Eye doctor immediately for eye examination and treatment. An eye infection could become serious and cause blindness if not treated early and appropriately.

Corneal ulcer (infection of cornea) Corneal abrasion (scratch) Allergic conjunctivitis

Important Reminders

  • Get your eye examined by qualified Eye doctor or Optometrist before using cosmetic lens
  • Get prescription for your cosmetic lens
  • Purchase your cosmetic lens from authorised supplier (Optometry outlets with permits to sell contact lens). Check for the permits displayed at the outlets.
  • Follow instruction on handling and care of cosmetic lens
  • DO NOT share your contact lenses with anyone else. Sharing other people’s contact lenses can spread any infection or particles from their eyes to yours and vice versa.
  • DO NOT sleep with contact lenses in your eyes

It’s your responsibility to make sure you protect your eyes by having an eye examination, getting a prescription and buying contact lenses from a legal source. REMEMBER!!! Our eyes are priceless. Take good care of them because BEAUTIFUL eyes are HEALTHY eyes.      

Last Reviewed : 23 August 2019
Writer/Translator : Dr. Salmah bt. Othman
Accreditor : Dr. Hjh. Nor Fariza bt. Ngah
Reviewer : Dr. Rosniza bt. Ab. Razak