Contacts and Costumes – Cosmetic Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are special lenses designed to help people with eye problems see more clearly. They are a nice alternative to eyeglasses, and make reading and driving easier. Not all contact lenses are worn just for this purpose, however. Some lenses called cosmetic contact lenses are designed to change the way a person looks. Color contact lenses are the tamest of all types of contact lenses, but they can still dramatically change the way someone looks because they completely change your eye color. They typically come in colors like green, shades of brown, blue hues, and even lavender iris colors. But lenses worn solely for cosmetic purposes can be much more intense than just different colors. Whether it is to scare people at Halloween, change the look of a character in a film, used to wear in a live play, or to wear at a comic or cosplay convention, cosmetic lenses can provide intensely different looks for the person wearing them.

Most contact lenses used for cosmetic purposes are not necessarily prescription, meaning that they are not made to specific eyesight need and are not made for corrective vision. Some can be designed especially for people with vision problems, so they get the benefit of corrected eyesight along with the uniqueness of the specialized lens. Often the lenses can be very unique, giving the wearer an unusual, dramatic look. Some cosmetic contact lenses are completely black in color, giving the person an almost alien or demonic look. Others are made to make the iris look bigger, making a more cartoonish look. Other types of lenses have an animal like appearance, such as cat or tiger’s eye so that people can transform themselves into a completely different character.

  • Total color lenses give the eye an entirely new color and can cover the whole eye so that the iris and the outside of it are all one uniform color. These lenses can almost change someone’s identity completely, simply by changing their eye color in a very dramatic way.
  • In Japan, the scleral types of cosmetic contact lenses are quite popular. Scleral means that they cover the white part of the eye known as the sclera, and give the appearance of larger eyes.
  • Cat’s eye style lenses give the person the appearance of an animal like a cat or tiger, and have a very dramatic look. These can be worn for Halloween costumes, movies, or to wear to a costume party or cosplay convention.
  • Theatrical contact lenses are extreme in design, and can make the person look a villain, alien, monster, or character.
  • A new trend in cosmetic contact lenses are those imprinted with sports team logos or even brand names.

Cosmetic contact lenses are not only used for theatrical or costume-related purposes. Some doctors actually help to design specialized cosmetic lenses to help patients who have damaged irises achieve a more normal look. These lenses restore the original look of the iris so that no one can tell the person has undergone any type of eye damage. While the cosmetic style of contact lenses are interesting, unique, and fun, there are cases where cosmetic lenses have caused eye irritation, redness, and even infection. Just like prescription corrective contact lenses, the cosmetic type of lens should be removed after a certain period of time, usually a maximum of eight hours of wear. This can help to prevent any eye irritation and allows the eye to breathe.

  • The FDA sometimes refers to cosmetic contact lenses as decorative contact lenses, since they are much different in appearance than traditional contact lenses and are usually worn for a decorative purpose only.
  • While cosmetic contact lenses are becoming more popular, they still only account for approximately three to five percent of all contact lenses sold in the United States.
  • While not all cosmetic lenses are prescribed by an optometrist, the FDA advises people to only obtain them from a professional eye doctor. This helps to prevent eye damage and the possibility that the lenses can harm the eyes.
  • Many people think of cosmetic contact lenses as a costume accessory, but in reality these lenses are still considered medical devices and should be handled with care. While it’s not required that people obtain these lenses from an eye professional, it is highly recommended to prevent potential damage or infection.

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