Many people who consider coloured contact lenses for the first time are surprised to find such a wide variety of products already available.
With the cost of colored contact lenses driven down by advances in manufacturing technology (and the marketplace spurred on by the fashion world) cosmetic lenses look set to become a more familiar fashion accessory.
Not all colored contact lenses are purely cosmetic and they can loosely be divided into the following categories:
Opaque lenses are used to totally change eye colour, no matter how light or dark the natural color of the iris. Opaque lenses have a ‘ring' of colour that covers the iris, while the middle is left clear so the pupil receives light signals as usual. Hence even dark drown eyes can be changed to light blue without affecting vision. Virtually all novelty or special effects contact lenses are opaque.
Enhancement tints (also known as medium tints) are exactly what they sound like, i.e. lenses designed to enhance and intensify, rather than change, natural eye colour. On a practical level this means that they work much more effectively with light eyes, and are popular choice as they do not alter the underlying pattern of the iris.
Visibility tints have no affect on the outward appearance of the eye, but the addition of a light green or blue tint makes fitting, cleansing and finding lost lenses much easier.
Light filtering tints are relatively new and their true potential is only just beginning to be explored. They work by filtering out certain sections of the visual spectrum in order to highlight others. Light filtering tints have already been developed to help tennis players and spectators track the ball better (by subduing all other colours except yellow), while other uses include helping colour blind people to differentiate between confusing colours.
Although prescriptions aren't needed to order colored contact lenses online, it's important to first visit your eye-care professional to check that they are suitable for you - and to get advice on fitting and looking after your lenses.
Further information on colour contact lenses is available here.