By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about the hidden dangers of coloured contact lenses.
Coloured contact lenses can be easily purchased anywhere from shops that sell ladies accessories, fashion vendors, Internet retailers and even the pasar malam (night market) these days. In comparison to countries like the US, it is illegal there to sell contact lenses to an individual without a prescription. In Malaysia today, these colored contact lenses are so easily available because there are no proper regulations in place. The fashion conscious young people who want to look cool and trendy by wearing these non-prescribed color contact lenses are often completely oblivious to the dangers that they expose their precious eyes to.
In the last few weeks, I have seen numerous eye problems in young adults and teenagers who have worn coloured contact lenses that have been purchased without a prescription. Almost all of these patients have walked into my consultation room looking miserable with blood shot eyes, eye pain, much tearing (lacrimation) and the inability to tolerate light (photophobia). Thankfully most of them have recovered well without any serious eye problems although they have exposed themselves to the risk of permanent vision loss due to corneal scarring and corneal infections.
THE COLOUR ON THE CONTACT LENS
The pigments on the coloured contact lenses usually create problems. The cheap coloured contact lenses that are found in most retail shops are manufactured poorly because these colour pigments easily rub off the contact lenses. The pigments are not securely embedded as in the more expensive reputable coloured contact lens. The loose pigments have harmful effects on the eyes.
The surface colour pigments also allow bacteria to easily attach to the contact lens surface making the risk of serious eye infections including corneal ulcers. Quite often, most individuals also take shortcuts and do not take the same precautions in handling their coloured contact lenses as their regular non-coloured contact lenses.
POOR CONTACT LENS FITTING
All contact lenses must be properly fitted. In other words, a person desirous of wearing any contact lenses must be correctly assessed before they can be prescribed contact lenses. However, this is often an overlooked fact because the temptation of fashion and easy availability of such lenses, lures them into buying a pair without a prescription. Most people do not realise that poorly fitted contact lenses can cause injury to the eyes (cornea).
SOME POINTS TO NOTE:
Avoid purchasing contact lenses off the counter or over the Internet without a proper prescription. Remember, ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL!
If you must wear coloured contact lenses, make sure they are of a good reputable brand.
Adhere to proper disinfection methods of cleaning and disinfecting.
Never ever share contact lenses.
Seek immediate eye care from a doctor if you have eye problems from contact lens wear.