“Lady Gaga Eyes” may look cool, but are they dangerous?

In Lady Gaga’s video, Bad Romance, she is seen in a bathtub with huge anime-like eyes. According to an article in the New York Times, this wide-eyed look is becoming a fad among teenage and college aged girl. Although the look in the video is done with special effects, fans are recreating the look using what are called circle contacts. Circle contacts are colored contact lens that not only cover the iris with color, but part of the white of the eye (the sclera) as well. These contacts are very popular in Asia, however, as they have not been approved by the FDA, they are illegal to sell here. This hasn’t stopped those interested in the contacts from getting them online for $20-$30/pair.  These companies allow customers to choose the strength of their lenses as easily as their color. There are also “instructional videos” on YouTube,  such as the one by makeup artist  Michelle Phan, to show wannabees how to create the look themselves.

The biggest problem is that a prescription is not required to get them, and they are not fitted by an eye care professional (either an ophthalmologist or optometrist). As with any contact lens, cosmetic lenses carry risks of mild and serious complications, including eye redness, irritation, and infection.  Ill-fitting contacts may limit the amount of oxygen that is getting to the cornea (the clear covering of the eye) which can potentially cause blindness.  In addition, all individuals wearing cosmetic lenses need to be followed periodically by an eye care provider in order to avoid potentially blinding complications.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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