When Lady Gaga pops in a pair of oversized, Anime-inspired contact lenses or Jennifer Lopez subtly turns her hazel eyes a deep brown, you can bet it's all part of The Show. But if you use decorative contacts without getting a prescription from your eye doctor, you're opting for a look that might mean you won't be able to see at all!
A 2012 American Optometric Association survey found that up to 14 million Americans have tried these products without using a prescription from an eye doctor! Instead they purchase one-size-fits-all lenses, made with who-knows-what kinds of dyes and paints, from the Internet, street vendors, beauty-supply houses and Halloween or novelty stores. A poorly fitted pair of contacts can scratch your cornea, and if they're not properly cleaned and sanitized, they can trigger infections, corneal ulcers and even blindness.
If you want to change your eye color, transform your iris into a kaleidoscopic pattern, or put the crowning touch on a scary costume, you can use decorative lenses safely, if you:
- Get an exam from a licensed eye doctor, so you have a prescription that specifies the brand name of the contacts, lens measurements and an expiration date;
- Purchase the lenses only from someone who requires a prescription to sell you contacts; and
- Follow all instructions on caring for and cleaning lenses.
You won't be able to go completely Gaga, though. Her oversize lenses aren't Food and Drug Administration approved - and we sure hope she has them made by someone who knows how to do that safely.