Circle contact lens good for Lady Gaga, bad for your health

Thanks to pop sensation Lady Gaga and the mainstreaming of Japanese anime, contact lenses that make the iris of the eyes appear bigger than normal are all the rage among teens and women in their 20s. Called circled lenses, they are available through foreign websites like and for eye-popping prices of $15 to $40.

But this latest version of the colored contact trend should instead land in the dustbin, Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a contact lens and corneal expert ophthalmologist, told WalletPop in a telephone interview. "People think they can change their eye color in much the same way as they change their hair color and eye makeup. But it's not the same. If you get the wrong dye on the hair or eyes, you can wash it out. Get the wrong lens or a tainted lens, and you have big problems."

At best, users could experience redness, swelling, or a painfully red eye, said Steinemann, who is also a clinical correspondent with the American Academy of Ophthalmology. At worst? An abrasion, an ulcer, or a blinding infection. He treated one such user about eight years ago, when the 14-year-old contracted an infection from colored contacts she bought at a video store. "She had wanted to get her eyes to match her dress," he recalled. "She figured since she didn't wear them for correction, she didn't need to see an eye doctor. And she thought they were cool."