The range of available cosmetic lenses today is extensive. Patients can now change their eye color as often as their wardrobe or mask ocular disfigurement without calling attention to their eyes.
There are three distinct types of colored lenses: enhancers, opaque lenses, and light-filtering tints. These lenses are available in a variety of prescription types including plano (lenses without vision correction), spherical and toric lenses. Even if you intend to purchase plano lenses, you will still need a current contact lens prescription and fitting. Color contacts are also available in all wearing schedules and replacement schedules.
These contacts represent the latest development in color contact lens technology. Light-filtering lenses are primarily designed for enhancing sports performance and for other recreational uses. They are tinted in a manner that enhances certain colors (such as the yellow of a tennis ball) while muting other extraneous or distracting colors. Because of this, an object like a tennis ball is viewed in greater contrast with respect to the background and is therefore more easily focused upon.
While some handling tints may affect the patient’s eye color slightly, cosmetic or enhancer tints are required to make a purposeful change in someone’s iris color. These tints are translucent and blend with the underlying iris color to achieve an enhanced color effect when worn. Since these lenses are generally created with a light dye uniformly applied on the front surface, dark-color irises do not blend well with the lens color and typically eliminate the blending effect. Light blue and green eyes work best with enhancer tints; and aqua, blue, royal blue, and green are typically the most frequently chosen lens colors. The real color enhancement obtained with these lenses is a combination of the actual lens color, shade, and intensity of the tint; and specific lighting conditions. Hence, an aqua lens from one manufacturer may not look the same as an aqua lens from another, and the color may vary depending on to the lighting conditions.
Opaque tints incorporate opaque dyes throughout the lens material and result in a color change that is generally independent of the underlying iris color. They can make brown eyes appear blue and even mask corneal scars. However, opaque tints have been reported to reduce peripheral vision, especially when decentered from the patient’s line of sight.
Plano Color Contacts
It started as a fad; now it’s 30% of cosmetic contact lens sales. After contact lens companies discovered there was a demand for eye color change among people who don’t need vision correction, they started making more sophisticated products to capitalize on this growing market. First it was disposable contacts, then opaques, then patterns.
Those who are most intrigued about wearing plano contacts fall into the teenage to young-adult categories, those whose appearance often takes the form of a bold statement. This represents a lowering in age for plano lenses, as the market previously had been young adults and older.