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Contact lenses are a popular and convenient way for many people to correct their vision. Several online manufacturers offer vision correcting and non-correcting contact lenses.

A quick look at 5 of the best colored contact lenses

Approximately 45 million people in the United States wear contact lenses. Many people wear them to correct their vision, and others select colored contact lenses to change the appearance of their eyes.

This article discusses colored contact lenses, what types are available to purchase, how safe they are, and why eyewear is important for vision health.

By law, all contact lenses, including colored ones, require a prescription, whether they correct vision or not.

Manufacturers may call colored contact lenses cosmetic, theatrical, Halloween, circle, decorative, or costume lenses.

Colored contact lenses may help correct a person’s vision or have a cosmetic purpose, changing the color of the eyes.

People may choose to purchase colored contact lenses with a natural look, opt for lenses with very bright, striking colors, or select lenses to suit different outfits and styles.

Learn more about buying contact lenses online here.

Once a person has a prescription, they can purchase colored contacts from reputable online eyewear companies. Reputable online eyewear companies only provide contact lenses with a valid prescription from a person’s eye doctor.

While it is possible to buy colored contact lenses from costume shops, beauty salons, drug stores, and other places that do not require a prescription, they are not legal and present a threat to eye health.

A 2019 study on teenagers in Texas who regularly wore colored contact lenses found that only 3.9% of respondents purchased their lenses from an eye doctor. Half of the respondents did not have a prescription for contact lenses.

The study participants reported the following complications of using colored contact lenses:

Learn about infective conjunctivitis here.

There are several types of contact lenses, including:

  • Transparent-tinted lenses: These uniform-colored lenses can change the color of the iris.
  • Computer-generated opaque contacts: Opaque lenses cover up an individual’s natural eye color. They are available in a single color or blended colors that can mimic natural iris colors. They feature different patterns, colors, and pupil sizes on the lens surface.
  • Hand-painted custom contacts: These lenses can closely match an individual’s natural eye color and help cover any injuries. These contact lenses tend to be more expensive to purchase.

Learn about eye colors around the world.

A person may want colored contact lenses for several reasons, including changing their eye color to suit their personal style or match an outfit or costume.

Colored contact lenses also have medical uses. People who have eye injuries or scars, such as a ruptured iris or an irregular pupil, may use colored contact lenses.

Some evidence shows that colored contact lenses can help people who have dyschromatopsia, or color blindness.

One case study found that red contact lenses allowed the participant to better identify the color green on eye tests.

Learn about other ways to change eye color here.

People should only purchase and wear colored contact lenses if they receive a prescription.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) states that using colored contact lenses without a prescription can cause permanent damage to the eyes.

Colored contacts sold without a prescription, such as costume contacts, can let less oxygen into the eye. The pigment that manufacturers use may be thicker than the pigment in prescription lenses, leading to thicker and less breathable contacts.

Individuals should also make an appointment with an eye doctor to make sure they use contact lenses that are the right size and type for their eyes.

Lenses that do not fit properly can cause:

  • scratches to the cornea
  • open sores on the surface of the eye
  • eye infection
  • blindness

Eye doctors can also educate people on how to look after their contact lenses.

People need to care for their colored contact lenses just as they would care for vision-correcting contacts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend:

  • only using contact lens disinfecting solution to clean and store contact lenses
  • cleaning and storing contact lenses in fresh solution once a week
  • never storing contacts in water or top-off old solution – always use new solution
  • replacing the contact lens case at least every 3 months
  • following an eye doctor’s recommendations regarding replacing contact lenses

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Medical News Today chooses colored contact lenses based on the following criteria where possible:

  • Prescription: All companies require a valid prescription to order the lenses.
  • Color choice: The contact lenses are available in a range of colors.
  • Duration of wear: Companies will offer a range of contact lenses that are suitable for daily or monthly wear.

People may wish to consider the following factors when choosing colored contact lenses:

  • Color choice: Some companies only offer lenses in common eye colors, such as browns, blues, and greens. Others may have lenses in more uncommon colors such as purple.
  • Duration of wear: Many colored contacts are only suitable for one use. People may be able to wear some contacts for up to two weeks.
  • Vision needs: While colored contact lenses from reputable companies are prescription-only, they may not be suitable for all visions. People with astigmatism may need to purchase contact lenses that companies formulate especially for this condition.

Several companies offer colored contact lenses suitable for people who require vision-correcting lenses and those who want a cosmetic change.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for authentic appearances: 1-Day Acuvue Define

These disposable contacts are available in different designs to create different, authentic looks.

1-Day Acuvue Define contacts are available for those who are near- and far-sighted. Individuals can purchase 30- and 90-day packs.

This product features exclusive moisture and comfort technology that enables people to wear the lenses comfortably all day. The contact lenses also offer a high level of UV protection.

1-Day Acuvue Define contacts are only available with a valid prescription.

Pros and cons

Acuvue states that these contact lenses are most suitable for those who wish to highlight their natural eye shape and color. These lenses can add dimension, highlights, depth, and contrast to a person’s eyes.

However, people who are looking for a more dramatic change in their eye color may prefer to purchase different lenses.

Best for a range of colors: AIR OPTIX

These colored contact lenses are available in 9 colors, ranging from more subtle shades to vibrant colors such as gemstone green and honey.

The website has a “Play with Colors” feature that allows people to virtually try different colors.

Individuals can purchase correcting and non-correcting lenses through a prescription from a licensed eye doctor.

Individuals may need an eye exam before purchasing Air Optix contact lenses.

Pros and cons

People can virtually try on the lenses before committing to a purchase to decide which colors they prefer. Additionally, this product is suitable for those who require correcting and non-correcting lenses.

However, AIR OPTIX colored lenses are daily disposable lenses. A person will need to dispose of each lens after use.

Best for virtual try-on: DAILIES COLORS

These disposable, colored contact lenses come in four colors, from mystic blue to mystic hazel. These lenses may make the eyes looks bigger and brighter.

People can virtually try on the different colors through the website’s eye color studio.

Lenses, or a free sample, are only available through a licensed eye doctor, who can provide the required prescription.

Individuals may need an eye exam before purchasing Dailies Colors.

Pros and cons

These lenses feature an eye-defining outer ring which may make the eye appear larger and brighter. Additionally, the manufacturers state that all of the lens shades are flattering.

However, people who wish to buy darker colored contact lenses may prefer a different product. The darkest shade DAILIES COLORS offers is hazel.

Best for longer wear: FreshLook ColorBlends

A person can wear these colored contact lenses for up to 2 weeks. Individuals will have to remove the contact lenses before sleeping.

They are available in many colors, providing lenses that offer subtle changes and enhance an individual’s natural eye color and vibrant colors.

Individuals must have a current prescription to purchase these contacts.

FreshLook ColorBlends are available to purchase from several eyewear websites.

Pros and cons

The manufacturers state that these lenses combine three colors in one to provide extra depth and dimension to the eye without changing its appearance. Additionally, this product is suitable for those who do not require a prescription for vision correcting lenses.

However, this product may not suit those who prefer daily disposable contact lenses.

Best for those with astigmatism: TORIColors

These soft, disposable contacts are monthly and may suit those with astigmatism.

This product is available in seabreeze blue, horizon gray, emerald green, and golden amber.

Individuals will need a current prescription to purchase these contact lenses.

TORIColors lenses are available to buy online from several eyewear websites.

Pros and cons

The manufacturers state that these lenses are suitable for people with astigmatism. Additionally, the company says that these lenses retain up to 97% moisture throughout the day.

However, these contacts are not suitable for people who do not require vision correction.

The following table compares all the colored contact lenses in this article.

Acuvue DefineAIR OPTIXDAILIES COLORSFreshLookTORIColors
Prescription required?yesyesyesyesyes
Duration of weardaily disposabledaily disposableno information available1-2 weeksmonthly disposable
Vision correctionyesnear and far sightedness no information availableavailable for those with vision problems and those withoutastigmatism
Colorsenhances natural colors9 colors4 colors12 colors4 colors

The CDC state that having regular eye exams can identify when a person requires vision correction and can protect their eyes for the future.

Regular eye exams are important because some of the leading causes of vision loss, such as cataracts and glaucoma, may not display symptoms in their early stages.

The CDC recommends that the following people should have a dilated eye exam every 2 years to catch early signs of vision loss:

  • those with a family history of glaucoma
  • African Americans who are 40 years or older
  • people over the age of 60

When to seek immediate advice

If a person experiences any of the following symptoms, they should make an appointment with an eye doctor as soon as possible:

  • decrease in vision
  • draining or redness in one or both eyes
  • eye pain
  • double vision
  • floaters
  • circles or halos around lights
  • flashes of light

These symptoms may be a sign of an eye condition that needs urgent treatment.

The following are the answers to some common questions.

What are the side effects of colored contact lenses?

The AAO states that nonprescription colored contact lenses, such as costume lenses, can cause permanent damage to the eyes.

Manufacturers of nonprescription colored contact lenses do not make each lens to fit each individual’s eye. Instead, these lenses are “one size fits all”. Incorrectly sized lenses can cause scratches, ulcers, and infections.

Is it okay to wear colored contact lenses every day?

Prescription colored contact lenses are no different from prescription uncolored contact lenses. A person can wear the lenses every day.

It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how long to wear the lenses before removing, cleaning, or disposing of the product.

Do colored contacts work on dark eyes?

Colored contacts are suitable for dark eyes.

However, people may find that using semi-opaque or opaque lenses provide better results, especially if they are choosing a lighter color lens. Less opaque lenses may not cover the natural color of the eyes.

Contact lenses are a popular and convenient way to correct vision. Colored contact lenses are available in both corrective and non-corrective prescriptions.

Individuals who wish to purchase colored contact lenses will need a prescription. The selling of non-prescription colored contact lenses is illegal, and people may increase the risk of complications if they buy non-prescription lenses.

It is essential to have regular eye exams and look after colored contact lenses properly to protect eye health.