January 11, 2016

Contact lenses – The advice and "what not to do" list!

Hello everyone out there!

I got the inspiration to write this post after I, once again, helped someone online to find a fitting pair of circle/contact lenses for their cosplay. I tend to browse online forums and cosplay groups on Facebook etc and help out with questions about contact lenses; I like to help people and so I got the idea to do this kind of "do and do not" type of list when it comes to colored contact lenses. I hope that this will be helpful to someone out there who's about to buy their first ever colored circle lenses to their cosplay!
Oh, and if you need help with finding suitable circle lenses for a character that you want to cosplay, feel free to email* me for suggestions! But please please PLEASE provide reference images of the character (with the eyes clearly visible) because hey, I don't know every single character in existence. xD I'll try to help as best as I can! ^_^  
* = my email can be found to the left of my blog, under "About Me".

Me wearing the EOS Bubble Blue circle lenses.
The thing is that many times –both online and in real life– I've stumbled upon people who say that they've done the same things and, every time, I wish they knew better. I don't mean to be that person but I think it's important to not do any risky stuff with lenses because hey, you only have one set of eyes and if you damage them it's most often permanent. It's worth to think about.

Okay so, this post will be a mixed bag of what I've heard from people I've talked with at conventions along with information I've picked up along the years, all relevant to the use of contact and/or circle lenses. This post won't go through everything so yeah, some important stuff might very well be missing; it's just a compilation of things that I'd especially want to bring up to new contact lens users. ^_^ I hope this will help to clear out some of the question marks!

 Oh, and for those who do not know: circle lenses are contact lenses that give the illusion that your pupil is bigger than normal. They come in a plethora of different designs, colors and brands and are very popular in especially Asia. A lot of cosplayers mainly use circle lenses since they provide a more anime-esque look. Circle lenses are often available in prescription.


I seriously can't stress this enough! >o<;; 
I've had so many encounters at conventions when I've just been casually chatting away with another cosplayer and then, when I ask them about their lenses out of pure curiosity, they tell me that they've had said pair for a couple three years or so. In some extreme cases the cosplayer says this in a nonchalant voice it's as if they think that it's no big deal. At this point I mentally always freeze in horror.
A COUPLE YEARS??!  Seriously??
It doesn't matter one shit if you've just worn the lenses a few times
or if they still feel comfortable in your eyes – if you've had them opened (aka taken out of their original packaging) they have been collecting bacteria since day one. The thing is that as soon as you take your lenses out of their bottles (or whatever package they were in) they aren't sterile anymore. Even if you change the lens cases' solution regularly, clean them properly and don't wear them every month it still won't ever cleanse them 100% and new bacteria will keep building up on the surface of the lens. If you had a magnifying glass I can tell you that you sure as hell wouldn't want to look what kind of yummy friends are on top of those 2-3 year old lenses you just shoved in your eyes... :)
Use common sense, folks. Even if you have the cheapskate mode kicking in just before the convention and/or you don't have time (or money) to order a new pair just, please, don't gamble your sight. A new pair of lenses won't cost you much more than 20$ but really, if you wear an expired pair of lenses and, if the accident was to happen, you might get an eye infection or worse and, well, those bills surely ain't gonna come cheap and you might severely damage your vision too. 
Even circle lenses that are labeled as yearly ain't no exception they won't hold forever, period. If you have a pair and, say, you open them in February 2014, it means that you should stop using them when February 2015 rolls in. Heck, I never ever nowadays wear yearly lenses for a full year, no matter how actively I use them after six months have passed I almost always throw them out, unless I know for sure that I need said pair for a photoshoot on the seventh month, lol. The reason for this is simply that I'd rather play it safe than sorry, always. I want to note though that you don't have to do as I do; I just prefer to keep a six month limit because to me it feels safe and hygienic. ^^



Have you ever bought a pair of lenses and noticed, once you got them, that there was a visible defect on them? It can be anything from a bump to a scratch and even a torn edge. If your answer is yes then you should contact the store you bought them from and ask for a new pair or a refund. Most times the store assuming they care about their clients just as any legitimate business would should take you seriously and help you the best they can. Once a friend of mine received a defective pair and she contacted LensVillage, the shop she had bought from, and got sent a replacement lens, completely free of charge.
The thing is that sometimes a lens can be defective even if it has no visible damage or errors; I've had this happen. You notice it when you try to put in the lens in your eye and, no matter how well or how many times you clean it and/or take it out and put it back in, it still feels horrible in your eye. It can be a constant stinging feeling, it can burn, itch or feel like you have dirt between your eye and the lens etc. If it seriously feels so uncomfortable that you can barely keep your eye open and that you can't stand it for more than a few seconds then yes, you most likely received a defective lens. This is something that can happen no matter how safe and how amazing a shop/brand is. My main recommendation is that you DON'T WEAR THE LENS and do what I said above – contact the shop/seller. The reason why you shouldn't force yourself to wear the lens should be clear to everyone.
Oh and yes, it can very well happen that when you buy a pair that one lens is super comfortable and the other one is defective.


• Rule number 3: Take care of your lenses. And your hygiene. 

By taking care I mean change the solution regularly, change the lens case regularly etc. There's plenty of recommendations and different opinions about how often one should do these things but it's all up to you to decide in the end. Personally I follow a minimum of changing the solution at least once per month, if not in use, and of course every time after use. The lens cases I prefer to change every third month. Protip: you can sterilize used lens cases by boiling them in hot water for at least 10 minutes. You should also regularly wash the lens cases with warm water and liquid dish soap to remove any dirt and debris.

Wash the case with warm water and liquid dish soap to remove dirt and debris.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7633203_sterilize-contact-lens-case.html
Wash the case with warm water and liquid dish soap to remove dirt and debris.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7633203_sterilize-contact-lens-case.html
Wash the case with warm water and liquid dish soap to remove dirt and debris.

Read more : http://www.ehow.com/how_7633203_sterilize-contact-lens-case.html
Oh and yeah, every time you touch/handle your lenses you should always remember to wash your hands thoroughly – preferably with a mild soap. I also want to say that using a liquid soap is more hygienic than using a block soap. Avoid touching things that aren't your lenses, as much as possible, once your hands are clean. I also want to mention that when it comes to drying your newly washed hands I'd recommend using something that doesn't leave much "residue" on your fingers – by this I mean that if you, for example, use a towel (fabric or paper) and look closely afterwards you'll see that small dots, fibers etc might have gotten on your hands; these minimal dirts are what you'll want to avoid because they are big enough to stick to your lens and be a bother when said lens goes into your eye. If possible, air-drying your hands is the best choice but yeah, few have a machine nor the patience for that shit so if you use the fabric towel try to not brush your hands against the whole thing; limit your "area" and moves so that you get as little of the "towel fuzz" as possible.
Oh and one thing, when you open the lens case it is possible that the lens might have gotten caught or is too close to the lid somehow and yeah, when you start screwing up the lid you can, if you're unlucky, tear up the lens on the go. This has happened to a friend of mine so yeah, be careful when opening the lens cases. Lenses can also, literally, get blown off your eyes if it's really windy outside. You have been warned.


• Rule number 4: Try to not wear contact lenses longer than 4-8 hours per day, depending on the lens.

I'll admit, I've broken this rule quite a few times. Especially at conventions.
But I generally try to not wear contact lenses for much longer than the recommended time and, if I have to, there's always eyedrops! The recommendation is mainly so that your eyes won't dry out and yeah, if your contacts dry out fast it's often a good idea to either use re-wetting drops or take them out earlier than recommended. Note: eyedrops for eyes and eyedrops for contact lenses are different. Read on the product if it's suitable for contact lenses, it should say so and if not, don't use it with contacts!
Also, if you have dry eyes to begin with it's good be mindful of signs of tiredness/dryness once you wear the lenses; I  have naturally really sensitive/dry eyes and I have days on which I find it really unpleasant to wear contact lenses, no matter how comfortable said lenses would normally be. I've seriously had my fair share of both epic win lenses that would stay comfortable for 15 hours along with those that really dried my eyes up in less than 30 minutes.
If your eyes end up really red/bloodshot after wearing lenses (especially if around the pupil) it might be a good idea to give them a rest and not wear lenses at all for the next days...

Oh, one thing more! For the love of God and all that is holy, please don't ever sleep with your contacts on. Same thing when you are at a convention and you feel sleepy, make sure you won't accidentally fall asleep if you go and lie down somewhere with your lenses still on. A cosplayer I know has dozed off without meaning to, when wearing lenses, and she really panicked when she woke up and realized what happened.


• Rule number 5: Do not use water as a substitute for lens solution and don't try to bring dried-up lenses back to life.

This one is a no-brainer. Water and lens solution just aren't the same thing.
If you ever find yourself at a con, with a really huge need to take off your contacts, and you notice that "HOLY CRUD I FORGOT MY SOLUTION!" then yeah, using water to store your contacts in their cases might suddenly seem like a very tempting and good idea after all, you probably don't want to throw your new pair into the trash bin and neither can you keep them in your eyes. The thing with this kind of situations is that the best would of course be if you could ask someone else in the bathroom if they could possibly lend a bit of solution to you but this of course assumes that the other person is a contact lens user as well, which isn't always the case. 
I've heard of a case when someone was desperate at a convention and used water as a last resort to store their contacts temporarily; when they came home they swapped out the water for solution and thoroughly cleaned the lenses. This might be okay (I guess?) but only if you reaaaaaaaally have no other choice, especially if short-term storage only.
The reason it's normally a no-no is because water and lens solution quite obviously contain very different things; water isn't made to clean, store and maintain your lenses.
Contact lenses dry out without any kind of moisture around them, shrivel up and become hard and unusable; they even crack if you apply a small amount of pressure to them once fully dried out.
Oh, and don't you think that it's a good idea to just resurrect them by adding lens solution to your crispy pieces of plastic; it might work and the contacts might feel like nothing ever happened to them (yay?) but yeah, dry contacts equal no solution to protect them and that means bacterial party galore. You do the rest of the thinking. ;)
I've had a friend who did this once to a very old lens pair that had been dried up for God knows how long and, even though she miraculously avoided problems, she nowadays feels like it was a really reckless and stupid thing to do. It's a really big risk. Just don't do it. Really.

There's probably a lot more that I could add to this list but I'm not too eager to do a 10 kilometers post, haha. For those still filled with questions about how to put in lenses etc there's plenty of really good tutorials online, both by private persons and by contact lens stores. 
Also, please remember that not everyone can wear contact lenses and that visiting an optician before your first lens experience is a good idea – they can answer all your questions and concerns better than I or any other cosplayer can, that's for sure. I'm not an eye specialist or anything, just a guy who has done his research pretty well and who likes to help others. 

Before I end this post I want to recommend some circle lens stores that I've personally bought from over the years and that I have deemed to sell genuine and safe-to-wear lenses:

• Cirkellinser (Swedish) / CircleLensesEurope (Europe only)

For discount codes check the right side half of my blog, you will see all up-to-date (hopefully) discounts visible there to stores that I trust. :)

There surely is a lot more lens stores out there that are also safe but those linked above are some of my favorites and most frequented shops. ^^ Other stores I've used include, for example, CandyLens.

Please don't ever compromise your eyes – the gift of sight is not something to mess around with. If you wreck it, you lose it.

Thank you for reading!
~ Shiro Samurai out.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I needed! Thank you so much.

Juffu-Jaffa said...

Uuuh, tämä postaus on kyllä 5/5.

Itseä välillä kammostuttaa kun ihmiset pitävät linssejä yli 6 tuntia ilman silmätippoja, varsinkin sclera linssejä. Like, dude, niitä saa pitää vaan pari tuntia.
Kantapään kautta on tullut myös opittua, että tarkastaa sen linssin ennen silmään panemista. Kolmen lemmikin omistajana on pari kertaa linssiin tarttunut karva ja se kirveli silmässä ihan mukavasti....( ̵˃﹏˂̵ )

Anonymous said...

This post is really really helpful! Thanks a lot for all the good advice!
I didn't know that lenses could fly out of your eyes or get torn apart because of screwing up the damn lid of the lens case. :'DD

Sam Berne said...

You forgot solution-lens.com, the best for me because of the cheap price and the free pair.

Shiro Samurai said...

I didn't forget them – I left them out on purpose because they're fishy as hell and I wouldn't touch their store even if I had a 10-feet pole and rubber gloves.
I've read true stories that they blatantly steal photos from other lens review bloggers and lie about it and, to make matters worse, crop out/remove the watermarks. The photos they steal from bloggers they also use to sell their own lenses on their site and, well, often it's not even of the same lens – misleading marketing!! Also, if you tell them to take down your stolen photos they will just put them back up again later. DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR.
They also sell countless lenses that either don't exist and/or they sell lenses under false names – for example they sell shady/unknown China-brand lenses as Geo and Dueba lenses etc.
And the fact that they have the "buy x get x lenses for free" constant sale raises red flags. Their offers are too good to be true anyway; you don't have to be Einstein to figure out that it's not sustainable for a business (just think about how much money they lose on so many free pairs!!) and that, for it to work for them, there has to be some serious shady stuff going on behind the curtains... aka unsafe lenses.

tl;dr - I trust that site as much as I believe that humans have an eye in the butt and walk on their hands on the moon.