Guide to Color Contact Lenses

8:04 PM

Me:  "So my technician tells me that you are interested in color contact lenses?"

Patient: "Yeah...Do people still wear those?  I mean, I don't want to look crazy."

Yes, people do still wear color contact lenses, though their popularity has waned over the past 5 years.  Color lenses can offer anywhere from subtle enhancement of your natural iris hue to striking and dramatic chromatic changes.  They are popular in both men and women; and even in people who don't need contact lenses for corrective vision.  With all that said, as an optometrist, color contact lenses aren't exactly what I am going to most recommend.  The lenses have substantial drawbacks, including:

1) Discomfort and Dryness:  Color lenses aren't made with the thinnest, most oxygen permeable materials.  They are very prone to comfort issues and for patients with dry eye issues, I NEVER recommend color lenses as an option.  They will be more uncomfortable than practically any other lens on the market that was manufactured in the last 10 years.

2) Price:  Color lenses aren't inexpensive, and because of that, people are prone to thinking they can just put them in a case and keep them for years at a time.  DO NOT DO THIS.  Color contact lenses are just like any other contact lens.  They have a limited shelf life.  Most lenses on the market are limited to a 2 week lifespan.  That means you have to throw them away every 2 weeks after you open the package, whether you wore them 14 times or 2 times.  

COLOR LENS FAIL!  Photo via solutions-lens.com
3) Fake Appearance:  There are 2 type of color contact lenses: opaque and "enhancer".  Most lenses are "opaque" meaning they have a ring of color visible in the lens and then a fake "pupil" in the center.  If you are in bright light, your own pupil will constrict, allowing everyone to see your real pupil and real iris color through the center of your color contact lens.  Obvious this is distracting from the color change illusion.  "Enhancer" lenses are a solid color throughout, but the drawback here is that if the lens is larger than your own iris, then the ring of color will be visible on the white of the eye as well, creating an obviously fake appearance.


Still interested in color lenses?  Only a few prescription lenses are out there for purchase, but here are your options:

CIBA VISION

Ciba offers the widest array of color lenses on the market and Freshlook is my go to color lens option:

DAILY DISPOSAL

FreshLook 1 -Day:  Rx from plano to -8.00.  Limited color selection:  blue, green, hazel, gray

2 WEEK DISPOSAL

FreshLook Colors, Colorblends, and Dimensions:  Rx from +6.00 to -8.00

via Fanta Eye Care
FreshLook Colorblend Toric: The ONLY astigmatism color option on the market!
         Rx: NO plus powers, cyl up to -1.75 and limited axis available
         Limited color selection: blue, green, gray, hazel

MONTHLY DISPOSAL

Focus Monthly Softcolors: Rx +6.00 to -8.00, Limited Colors: Evergreen, Royal Blue, Aqua
        Really only usable with light eyes


NO LONGER AVAILABLE
Durasoft Colors and Durasoft Color Toric.  ALL Durasoft lenses are no longer being produced.


ACUVUE:  Update--as of March 31, 2013 all Acuvue 2 Colors are being discontinued!!!

2 WEEK DISPOSAL

Acuvue 2 Enhancers  -- better for light eyes; subtle enhancement
Acuvue 2 Opaque  --- more common type of color delivery
                     Rx: +6.00 to -9.00

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6 comments

  1. Great post! Thanks a lot for sharing this information. Cheers!

    contact lenses medford, ma

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  2. Now freshlook colorblends toric are discontinued. So whats next?? No color for people with astigmatism.

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  3. I've been an avid wearer of the Focus Softcolor Monthly (Royal Blue). Now that they are discontinued, do you recommend a replacement?

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately there is no contact lens on the market that's directly comparable. People typically liked the Focus Softcolor lenses because they were subtle enhancers and there was no fake pupil. If that's what you're looking for I'd go with Acuvue 1 Day Moist Define in Sparkle. You can read about it here: http://eyedolatry.blogspot.com/2015/03/acuvue-1-day-moist-define-review.html

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  4. I wore the Acuvue 2 Enhancers for more than 15 years! Does anyone have a good recommendation as replacement that does not look fake?

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    Replies
    1. If you want super subtle, go with Acuvue 1Day Moist Define in Sparkle. Something with a little more effect? Freshlook Colorblends Dimensions is your next best choice.

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