Eye See You
It has been said that the eyes are the “windows to the soul”, what most people look at while talking. Eyes can determine a smile, a laugh, anger, a whole range of emotions.
The trend has caught on for many Singapore girls and women to enlarge their irises through the use of circle lenses. Circle lenses are coloured contact lenses originally invented in South Korea that come in varying colours like pink and purple. They enlarge the eyes by being tinted prominently in the outer ring and cover a portion of the whites of the eyes.
Dubbed the “anime lenses” because of their resemblance to Japanese animated cartoon characters, they have been available since 2005 but rocketed to fame when pop star Lady Gaga recently wore a pair for her Bad Romance music video.
While the music video probably had photoshop to enhance the irises, this still left many girls wanting.
Besides wanting to emulate the celebrity, girls who enjoy watching anime shows such as Mermaid Melody (a show about a mermaid princess) can imitate their favourite cartoon anime character by enlarging and brightening their eyes through the use of these contact lenses.
Unlike normal contact lenses that can only be sold with a prescription by optometrists and opticians, there are no restrictions on who can sell these circle lenses. They can be obtained through online sellers who get them from suppliers in countries like Japan and Korea. Companies including Geo Medical and Dueba ContactLens from Korea manufacture such lenses, which are prominently featured in online websites and Internet blog shops. Both prescription and non-prescription (also known as plano) lenses can be bought.
These lenses sold online fall within the range of $10 to $20 per pair and can last up to a year, compared to those sold by optometrists which costs approximately $50 per pair and only lasts up to a month. However, they come with little to no consumer aftercare provided so that the consumers do not neglect on hygiene. Concerns have also been raised on the issue of quality of the lenses. Some companies are selling circles lenses online without bearing a stamp of approval from health services
Mr William Choo, 44, an optometrist and operations manager of local optometrist shop Nanyang Optical, has seen a surge of people coming in citing problems such as bloodshot eyes and dryness. He says: “Most are youngsters who abuse their eyes by wearing cosmetic contact lenses daily, for extremely long hours.”
For Ms Mary Ng, 18, a student, the problems did not just stop there. She had bought a pair of contact lenses from a local online blog shop, and had initially no issues with the lenses.
“After about a week of wearing, my eyes became dry and itchy. There was also pus flowing out.”
A check of her optometrist led to a discovery that the lenses caused her eyes to be over dry and produced mucus which blocked her vision, causing her difficulty in seeing clearly. A shocked Mary immediately threw away the contact lenses she bought. The incident has left a bad impression on her regarding circle lenses.
For those still looking to buy circle lenses from online blog shops, Mr Choo offers this advice: “As opticians, we can help you if you suffer from any kind of infection when you wear cosmetic contact lenses. Your eyesight is probably the most precious thing you own.”