lady gaga circle lenses

Circle lenses give you wider-than-life eyes.

Of all the strange outfits and accessories Lady Gaga wore in her “Bad Romance” video, who would have guessed that the look that would catch fire would be the huge anime-style eyes she flashed in the bathtub?

Lady Gaga’s wider-than-life eyes were most likely generated by a computer, but teenagers and young women nationwide have been copying them with special contact lenses imported from Asia. Known as circle lenses, these are colored contacts — sometimes in weird shades like violet and pink — that make the eyes appear larger because they cover not just the iris, as normal lenses do, but also part of the whites.

These lenses might be just another beauty fad if not for the facts that they are contraband and that eye doctors express grave concern over them. It is illegal in the United States to sell any contact lenses — corrective or cosmetic — without a prescription, and no major maker of contact lenses in the United States currently sells circle lenses.

circle lenses

Yet the lenses are widely available online, typically for $20 to $30 a pair, both in prescription strengths and purely decorative. On message boards and in YouTube videos, young women and teenage girls have been spreading the word about where to buy them.

The lenses give wearers a childlike, doe-eyed appearance. The look is characteristic of Japanese anime and is also popular in Korea. Fame-seekers there called “ulzzang girls” post cute but sexy head shots of themselves online. (“Ulzzang” means “best face” in Korean, but it is also shorthand for “pretty.”)

Now that circle lenses have gone mainstream in Japan, Singapore and South Korea, they are turning up in American high schools and on college campuses.

blue-circle-lenses

“In the past year, there’s been a sharp increase in interest here in the US,” said Joyce Kim, a founder of Soompi.com, an Asian pop fan site with a forum devoted to circle lenses. “Once early adopters have adequately posted about it, discussed it and reviewed them, it’s now available to everyone.”

Kim, who lives in San Francisco and is 31, said that some friends her age wear circle lenses almost every day. “It’s like wearing mascara or eyeliner,” she said. Sites that sell contact lenses approved by the Food and Drug Administration are supposed to verify customers’ prescriptions with their eye doctors. By contrast, circle lens web sites allow customers to choose the strength of their lenses as freely as their color.

According to Karen Riley, a spokeswoman for the FDA, said “Consumers risk significant eye injuries — even blindness.” Dr S Barry Eiden, an optometrist in Deerfield, Ill., who is chairman of the contact lens and cornea section of the American Optometric Association, said that people selling circle lenses online “are encouraging the avoidance of professional care.” He warned that ill-fitting contact lenses could deprive the eye of oxygen and cause serious vision problems.

Via Times of India