Love the Look of Colored Contact Lenses? Here’s How to Find Your Perfect Pair 

Decorative lenses are a great way to change up your look. But picking the wrong pair can lead to serious eye problems. Here’s what you need to know. 

A woman wearing contact lenses looking into the camera

Ever wish you had emerald green eyes instead of chocolate brown? Or violet instead of gray? 

With colored contact lenses, you can make your eye color dreams come true. There are many brands offering bold and beautiful hues to accentuate your natural eye color or change it up entirely. 

But there are some important things to know before you take the plunge. Picking the wrong pair could lead to serious eye issues. 

Follow these five helpful tips so you can safely turn your brown eyes into baby blues. 

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Tip #1: Make Sure Your Lenses Are Prescribed by Your Eye Doctor 

You can find nonprescription colored contacts in a variety of places, including salons, costume shops, and online retailers. 

Beware of these contact lenses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits the sale of decorative lenses without a prescription. That’s because prescription contact lenses are considered medical devices by federal law.  

And while buying colored lenses over the counter might be more convenient than seeing your eye doctor for a prescriptive pair, you could be taking a big chance with your eye health. 

“Just as with clear prescription contacts, colored contacts need to be fitted correctly to prevent ocular damage,” says Jennifer Mai, O.D., an optometrist at America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses in Stone Mountain, Georgia. 

In fact, buying contact lenses that aren’t professionally fitted to the curve of your eye can lead to major problems. Think eye infections, a scarred or scratched cornea, and even blindness. 

Even if you don’t have any vision problems and just want to try out a new eye color, you should still get the lenses from an optometrist

Another reason to avoid using nonprescription lenses? The colored contacts you find online may not be sterile or come with proper care instructions. Improper contact lens care can lead to bacterial infections, corneal ulcers, and even blindness if not diagnosed and treated quickly. 

Tip #2: Keep Your Vision Needs in Mind 

Colored contact lenses can be worn strictly for aesthetics or, like regular clear contacts, for vision correction. Whether you choose to wear your colored contacts every day or just occasionally will play a role in which type you buy. There are daily, biweekly, or monthly contact lens options

Your prescription also plays a role in which colored contacts best suit you. 

“There are prescription restrictions with colored contacts,” says Dr. Mai. “The standard lenses do not correct for significant astigmatism and don’t come in a multifocal option.” 

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Tip #3: Figure Out Which Colored Lenses Best Fit Your Budget 

Colored contact lenses can be a pricey accessory. Before you make the switch, think about what your budget allows. 

“Colored contacts tend to be a bit more expensive than regular contacts,” says Dr. Mai. Some colored contacts cost nearly $200 more a year than the same brand’s clear contact lenses. 

It’s a good idea to check the prices and customer reviews on different colored contact lens brands. Be sure to discuss any cost or quality concerns with your eye doctor. Keep in mind that colored contacts don’t need to be an everyday accessory. Buying a smaller supply can help control the cost. 

Tip #4: Decide Whether You Want a Subtle or Dramatic Change 

Colored contact lenses are tinted, meaning they have color embedded in the lens, says Dr. Mai. There are two types of tints. One works to change your eye color’s appearance while the other works to amplify their natural color. 

The two different tints are: 

  • Enhancement tint. This tint is meant to intensify your iris, the colored part of your eye. It doesn’t change the color of your eye, but instead helps to increase the intensity. People who aren’t ready for a complete eye color change may prefer colored contacts with an enhancement tint. Contacts with an enhancement tint work well for people with lighter colored eyes. For instance, people with blue eyes who want more of a periwinkle hue may opt for this type of tint.  
  • Opaque tint. This tint is perfect for those looking to totally change their eye color. These nontranslucent lenses are designed to completely cover the iris with an entirely different color. Opaque tinted colored lenses make it possible for people with darker eyes to go lighter. 

Tip #5: Select a Color That Plays Up Your Personality 

Now for the fun part: picking out your color. 

Most colored contact lens brands have color guides that patients can follow to help them decide, says Dr. Mai. Your America’s Best optometrist can help you pick the right pair, too. In fact, they may have diagnostic lenses that you wear for a short period to make sure the fit, feel, and look are right for you. 

Whether you’re looking for an understated or bold eye color change, colored contact lenses can be a great way to switch up your style. Just be sure to take steps to protect your eye health along the way. 

See our sources: 
Why you need a prescription for colored contact lenses: U.S. Food and Drug Administration 
Contact lens safety: U.S. Food and Drug Administration 
Colored contact lens pros and cons: 
Parts of the eye: National Institutes of Health