Note: You should always be careful when it comes to your eyes! Visit your ophthalmologist for both an eye exam and to discuss the options for contacts. This is vital, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! Your eye doctor can help determine if contacts are an option for you, as well as help give you the important information needed when ordering contacts online. You can order contacts direct from your ophthalmologists or online, though the later may be frowned upon.
So…let’s talk about contact lenses!
So you may be thinking ‘why do I need to get an eye exam before I can wear contact lenses?’
Why do you take a drivers study test and have to have hours of training behind the wheel of a vehicle in order to get your license? For safety, for both you and those around you. (duh!)
The safety for yourself and others is a key factor for contact lenses as well. Even if you have perfect vision, you must always have an eye examination and obtain a prescription prior to wearing contact lenses. Lenses that are not properly fitted to your eye may scratch the eye or cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea.
What happens in an eye examination?
During an eye exam your ophthalmologist will:
- Measure your eyes in order to properly fit contacts. Claims such as “one size fits all” and “no need to see an eye specialist” are misleading. Lenses that are not properly fitted to your eye may scratch the eye or cause blood vessels to grow into the cornea.
- Assess whether or not you are a good candidate for contacts, regardless of whether you want corrective lenses to improve you vision, or costume lenses to enhance your look. Patients who have frequent eye infections, severe allergies, dry eye, frequent exposure to dust or smoke, or an inability to handle and care for the lenses may not be suitable candidates for contacts. Because the designs painted on costume contacts make the lenses thicker, and less permeable, it is harder for oxygen to get through the lens to the eye, so it is important to consult with an ophthalmologist or optometrist to ensure your eyes can handle these types of lenses. [Sauce]
- Instruct you on appropriate contact lens care. Lenses that are not cleaned and disinfected increase the risk of eye infection. [IMPORTANT!!!!]
- Advise how long costume contacts can remain on the eye. For instance, you should NEVER sleep in costume contact lenses. Eye care professionals can also provide a prescription for FDA-approved products.
It should also be noted that sites that specifically sell colored contacts lenses for cosplay purposes (Such as my favorite, PinkyParadise) will require a prescription verification when purchases lenses.
‘How do I find my Prescription?’
After an exam your doctor can provide you with a prescription verification slip, which will have all the information needed for your contact lenses. It is important to note that you should have your eyes examined every 1-2 years or more frequently if you have blurry vision, headaches, or just terrible eyesight in general (like me, rip) to help make sure your prescription has not changed and to keep your eyes as healthy as possible.
Your prescription should have several numbers on it, broken down like so:
OD: OD stands for oculus dexter, the Latin phrase for “right eye.”
OS: OS stands for oculus sinister, the Latin phrase for “left eye.”
If both the left and right eye has the same diagnosis and prescription information, the abbreviation “OU” is used instead, or “ocular uniter,” meaning both eyes.
Sphere (SPH): This indicates the amount of lens power, measured in diopters (D), prescribed to correct myopia (nearsightedness) or hyperopia (farsightedness). The spherical power of a lens is indicated with a plus sign (+) for hyperopia and a minus sign (-) for myopia. PinkyParadise only supply Myopia lenses at the moment.
Cylinder (CYL): This indicates the amount of lens power for astigmatism. If no cylinder power is noted, either you’ve no astigmatism or your astigmatism is so slight that it is not really necessary to correct it with your eyeglass lenses.
Axis: This describes the degree and direction of your astigmatism. The axis is a figure which determines the angle of the correction needed to see clearly, measured in degrees from 1 to 180.
Base Curve (BC): The base curve determines what type of fit is required for the lens to meet the curve of your eye. This is usually written in millimeters or sometimes with the words: flat, median or steep.
And the Diameter (DIA): The diameter of a lens determines what length of width that best fits your eye. It measures the width of a lens in millimeters, from end to end.
Now that some of the basic questions have been discussed it’s time to talk further about the risks of wearing contact lenses.
Contact lenses are medical devices. Wearing contacts without an exam and prescription from a doctor can blind you. No joke.
The eyes are one of the most delicate and important parts of the body, so what you put in and on them must be medically safe and FDA-approved. Cosplay contacts (Specifically circle lenses) fall into a grey area here, as most if not all are not FDA approved, and can be very harmful to your eyes.
This is all scary stuff, but it has to be said that choosing tow ear contacts is risky business period, and you should NEVER wear contact lenses without having an eye exam and talking with your ophthalmologist first. The next step will be determine by you and your ophthalmologist, and it’s up to you to take care of your eyes.
Risks of wearing contact lenses include dangerous infections that can lead to permanent vision loss and even require corneal transplants. Non-prescription costume contacts can cause injuries such as cuts and open sores in the protective layer of the iris and pupil (corneal abrasions and corneal ulcers) and potentially blinding painful bacterial infections (keratitis). These injuries can require serious eye surgeries such as corneal transplants, and in some cases lead to permanent vision loss.
So wearing contact lenses is no joking matter! Do your research, and do not rely on my word or anyone else when it comes to the health of your eyes. Talk with your ophthalmologist and have an eye exam done!
Remember: You can choose not to wear contact lenses for cosplay.
No where does it say you have to wear colored contacts for your cosplays. If someone gives you trouble because your eye color doesn’t match the character you are cosplaying let them know there is no rule-book for how to cosplay, and that you are perfectly fine with your natural eye color.
Some people can’t wear contacts. Either they can’t get the hang of using them or they can’t wear them for xyz reason as stated by their eye doctor. And that’s perfectly fine!
Is you want your eyes to match the color of the character you are cosplaying you can use editing software to achieve this later in photos. Some of these softwares are free to use, others you can purchase and add even more cool effects to your photos!
So it’s up to you and your ophthalmologist now to see if wearing contact lenses is right for you! I highly reccomend purchasing your contacts either:
- through your ophthalmologist office
- or through an FDA approved vendor
As I said before I use PinkyParadise for my colored and circle lenses, but it should be noted that this is not an FDA approved site. Under the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumer Law (FCLCA), PinkyParadise is required to verify your contact lens prescription before you purchase, and you still still need that prescription slip even if you wear non-prescription contact lenses. You cannot legally purchase contacts in the United States and South Korea without a valid prescription on PinkyParadise.
I have seen a few cosplayers purchases from PinkyParadise and had issues, even some to the point they have damaged their eyes. I don’t know the full story behind any of these, but I can say for myself I have been purchasing my contacts from PinkyParadise for the last four (4) years and have yet to have a problem. Now the day that changes (if even) I will of course let you all know, but for now I follow these safety steps when ordering my contacts and thus far they have served me well.
- Have an eye exam every year to make sure my prescription is current and that contacts are still an option for me.
- Order the contacts with the proper script for my eyes.
- Inspect contacts upon arrival for both expiration date and a visual inspection of the contacts in the vials before opening.
- Rinse contacts with my solution and put my solution in the case to allow the contacts to soak in a fresh/safe solution. I always wait minimum 24 hours before wearing my new contacts to ensure they have soaked in the safe solution. (Never apply contacts to your eyes right out of the vial.)
- Check for tears, hair, dirt before applying onto eyes.
- Remove from eye if any irritation occurs upon putting the contact on my eye.
I also never wear my contacts for more then 4-6 hours at a time. You should NEVER wear contact lenses while in a pool, and never go to sleep wearing contact lenses.
To help my eyes adjust to wearing contacts I will wear a pair for about one (1) hour a day for two days, then increase to 3 hours a day. If I have not worn contacts in a while and a convention is coming up I tend to follow these steps to help my eyes adjust to wearing them again:
- Sunday: Wear for 1 hour in the afternoon.
- Monday: Wear for 1 hour in the afternoon.
- Tuesday: Wear for 3 hours in the afternoon.
- Wednesday: Wear for 3 hours in the afternoon.
- Thursday: Wear for 4-6 hours.
- Friday (at con): Wear for 4-6 hours as ‘needed’.
- Saturday (at con): Wear 4-6 hours as ‘needed’.
- Sunday: No contacts, or max of 3 hours depending.
Always soak your contacts in fresh solution. Avoid rinsing your contact lenses with water as the water may contain bacteria that will stick to your lenses. I reccomend changing the solution in your contact cases once a month. This helps keep your contacts from drying up, feel fresh, and keep from getting bacteria which can cause eye infections.
If your lenses have a tear or dry up toss them away immediately. Some lenses have a recommended wear period, and reccomend getting replacement lenses after one (1) year of use.
As always be smart and be safe if you choose to wear contacts. There are LOTS of horror stories about wearing contacts out there, but rest assured if you get an eye exam and talk with your ophthalmologist they can help answer any questions or concerns you have, and help determine if contact lenses are a good ‘fit’ for your eyes.
I will review each pair of contact lenses I own here on my blog if you wish to see more pictures and those reviews.
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