Beware: Fashion contact lenses

The Canadian Association of Optometrists has issued a stern warning about the potential dangers of a new beauty product line marketed nationally through several pharmacy chains. “Only One Fashion Lenses” are non-prescription cosmetic contact lenses. They’re designed for changing eye colour.

Consumers can buy the lenses without the advice of an eye care professional. Optometrists warn the lenses could put your eye health at risk.

“Prescription or non-prescription, all contact lenses have the very same serious eye health implications,” says CAO President Dr Pasq Marcantonio. “Improper use, fit, or care of the lenses could result in a number of severe eye conditions and, because these lenses are non-prescription, they’ll be purchased by people who have no previous experience with contact lens wear. This makes potential problems even more likely.”

Dangers of poor care
According to optometrists, all contact lens wearers require detailed instruction about lenses. Wearers are also shown how to insert them and given a wearing schedule to ensure they’re not left in too long. Poor contact lens care is thought to be the leading cause of microbial keritis. This is a bacterial infection of the cornea (the outer layer of the eye) that can lead to infection, permanent eye damage, or even blindness.

As a long-time contact lens wearer, I know just how painful and frightening an eye infection can be. And as Dr. Marcantonio warns, even with proper care, contact lenses that do not fit properly cause problems of their own. The vanity contact lenses come in only one size, which means that they can’t possibly fit everyone. He says these are possible problems with the wrong fit:

  • Lenses too tight can restrict the amount of oxygen to the eye, leading to irritation and infection.
  • Too-large lenses will slip out of place and irritate the eye.
  • Lenses too large may also obscure vision, since the clear centre portion you look through could be misaligned.

The optometrists advise that consumers consult an eye specialist if they have any concerns.