The coloured contact lens market in Australia has grown enormously over the last few years and so have the choices ! You can choose to enhance your own eye colour or change it completely, make your eyes look bigger, brighter, sparkle or completely go wild with crazy designs or maybe you’re interested in sports tints. In Australia, coloured contact lenses are available in the full gamut of wearing schedules from dailies to two weeklies, to monthly, three monthly or even yearly. And of course they are available with a prescription for far and short-sightedness or without a prescription if you simply want to wear them for cosmetic purposes.
Prior to wearing coloured contact lenses it is recommended that you see an Eye Care Professional such as your local Optometrist, wether you need vision correction or just want to wear colour lenses for fun. The importance of this appointment is so the health of your eyes can be checked to ensure there are no current issues that might cause you a problem either with your vision or wearing a contact lens. Contact lenses come in a number of sizes and your Optometrist will be able establish the correct size and brand of coloured lenses that will fit you correctly and provide the look you want to create. Size and fit is actually very important, most coloured lenses sit over the iris, the coloured part of the eye, and if the size is wrong the coloured lens will move around creating quite an odd look. Also, most coloured lenses apart from the crazy lenses have a clear spot in the middle for the pupil which enables you to see, if the coloured part of the lens moves in front of the pupil it will obstruct your vision.
In Australia, Optometrists will often conduct a full eye test during this appointment which allows you to use your Medicare Card to either fully or part pay for this professional consultation. Often included in this consultation is the opportunity to try on a few colours and receive instruction in the correct techniques of insertion, removal and care of your lenses. From a colour choice point of view, you need to consider your complexion, hair colour, natural eye colour and whether you wanting a bold or subtle look. A great way to try out different colours is to head to the Air Optix Colour Studio online, this website allows you to upload your photo and virtually try on colours, you can even “share” your pictures with friends from the website to get their opinion.
Custom made contact lenses can be ordered from your Optometrist too, many people require an astigmatic correction, unfortunately this type of coloured contact lenses are not available “off the shelf” as too there are too many colours and prescription power combinations to manufacture. However, there is a company called Capricornia in Brisbane, Queensland that custom makes astigmatic coloured contact lenses, which you can order from your Eyecare Professional.
Tinted sports contact lenses are becoming popular as certain tints can improve performance in sports, for example grey- green contact lenses are worn by golfers as this tint can improve depth perception allowing the player to judge distances on the course. Runners enjoy a tinted contact lens too as they negate the need to wear cumbersome sunglasses – something every marathon runner in North Queensland should have ! Tinted sports lenses can be sourced from the US.
All coloured contact lenses sold in Australia have to have the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) approval, this government body ensures this product is safe to be sold to and used by the Australian consumer. If you want to be sure you are purchasing coloured contact lenses with this quality approval the brands that are best known in the Optometry industry in Australia are Freshlook, Air Optix, Colourvue and Acuvue Define. When you purchase these brands you can be assured that the lens materials are safe for the eyes and the colours within the lenses are properly sealed with the lens material.
The rest of the safety issues with coloured contact lenses lie with the user. Always use your coloured lenses as directed by your Eyecare Professional, for example if they are only intended for one days use, only wear them for the day and then throw them away. Two weekly, monthly, 3 monthly and yearly coloured lenses need to be cleaning and stored properly in between use, then discarded once the time period expires. Over wearing contact lenses can be uncomfortable due to lipid and protein build up, plus these deposits can reduce the oxygen flow thru to the cornea thus affecting the health of the eye, not to mention the increased risk of eye infections. Sharing coloured contact lenses is tempting; however this can be disastrous, as the transfer of bacteria can cause serious eye infections and possibly threaten your sight. One of the most common safety issues is long finger nails, on inserting and removing contact lenses they can scratch the cornea, this can be quite painful and certainly stops contact lens wear until the scratch heals. As a rule of thumb, do not use your contact lenses if your eyes become sore, red, swollen or irritated book an appointment to see your Eyecare Professional.
Have fun with coloured contact lenses, but do the right thing and always protect your sight, it’s the most valuable sense of all !