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Is It Safe To Wear Colored Contacts? The Truth About This Strange Beauty Trend

Though using colored contacts, like any regular lens, is generally safe, it's still classified as a medical device by the FDA, so you should consult a doctor before using them. Here's what you need to know about this beauty trend.

Colored contacts are nothing new. They have been used as Halloween (or other types of) costumes for decades. Already in the early 2000s, they started to become a thing solely for cosmetic reasons, but they didn't gain their current popularity until celebrities like the Kardashians, Paris Jackson, and Selena Gomez brought them into the mainstream. Today it's not rare to see people sporting all kinds of colors and patterns in their contacts for all kinds of reasons.

As with any fashionable and popular product, it's important to know if colored contacts are safe to wear. Though generally they are not harmful, they can cause complications if not used correctly, which is why the FDA classifies "decorative contact lenses" as a medical device. Here's what you must keep in mind about this strange beauty trend.

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The safe way

It's illegal to buy them in the U.S. without a prescription. Though anyone with perfect vision can legally get them, you need to have your eyes measured for a "plano" prescription (a prescription without vision correction) in order to fit the lenses without causing redness or irritation. So yeah, if it's looks you're going for, you definitely want to avoid any odd-looking side effects, don't you? 

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You must be careful not to obtain your cosmetic contacts irresponsibly, as reckless use can lead to corneal ulcers, infections, allergic reactions, and other dangerous conditions that could cause irreversible loss of vision.

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The safe place

The FDA specifically warns against the casual use of these products. "They are not cosmetics or over-the-counter merchandise. They are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," they write on the FDA official website. "Places that advertise them as cosmetics or sell them over-the-counter, without a prescription, are breaking the law."

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So, the most important thing to avoid regarding contacts in general, and colored ones in particular, is buying them from dubious, non-specialized stores. There are several beauty retailers that feature colored lenses—those you must avoid like the plague. Run away from the costume lenses sold at costume shops as well. If you want to get yourself colored contacts, make sure you get them from your eye-care provider, and nowhere else.

Photo by @meggiicosplayThis is relevant as well: I Didn't Understand How Important Health Insurance Was Until I Needed It

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The safe care

As with any contact lenses, it's not enough to get your colored ones through a prescription. You also need to take care of them—and of your eyes—properly if you want to avoid infections. Wash your hands before handling them (remember, they are going into your eyes! You don't want any dirt in there). Also, if you wear them constantly, keep your eyes lubricated with special contact drops in order to avoid harmful dryness. Follow all the safety instructions as you would with any other contacts, including not sleeping with them on, and preventing any heat from coming too close to your eyelids.

To sum up, you do have to be careful—wearing contact lenses, cosmetic or not, is not like wearing any other accessory like jewelry or regular glasses. Since they come in direct contact with your eyes, which are rather delicate organs, it's best to take your time to do it right. That said, you should be completely fine if you consult your doctor and heed his advice to a tee.

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