Beauty Yay or Nay? Are Circle Contact Lenses Dangerous?

A few weeks ago, the press reported that Circle Lenses were becoming increasingly popular in the USA due to celebrities like Lady Gaga, and naturally questionedjust how safe these lenses are to use.

According to the New York times, it is currently illegal to sell contact lenses without a prescription in the United States (I believe this is not the case in the UK because I have found British sites selling fashion contact lenses).

US doctors have warned users that they are risking eye problems because most circle lenses are imported from Asia and aren’t FDA approved.

Circle lenses are already extremely popular in Asia, and the result is larger looking eyes, similar to a manga cartoon with huge, dilated pupils.

Model Tsubasa Masuwaka using Circle Lenses and wearing Dollywink Lashes:


I found these reports interesting because I’ve always wanted to try circle lenses but as I’ve already got sensitive eyes, the last thing I would ever do is risk my eye health for the sake of wearing contacts.

I am also worried about looking a bit – how do I put this politely – well, stoned?!

Circle lenses seem so common these days – some YouTube Gurus I watch are never without them and I do wonder how healthy it can be to wear contact lenses (especially when it’s not for the sake of vision) every single day. A piece of plastic on top of your eyeball all the time, can’t be that great, surely?

I do have a pair waiting for me to try and when I pluck up the courage I may give it a go but I need to educate myself in the correct maintenance and cleansing procedure first. I’m also scared of not knowing how to take it out…eek.

What are your thoughts on Circle Contact Lenses? Do you use them, would you use them, or do you think they are a waste of time?

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  1. Jen says

    I wear contact lenses for vision correction, and have been considering buying prescription circle lenses from Asia that I’ve seen on various websites, but have always had niggling doubts about them being ones you’re supposed to be able to reuse for a year…and especially now after reading this article!

    I think I will be trying out the new Acuvue Define daily disposables, they’re supposed to be similar to circle lenses in that they have an outer dark ring, and the fact that they are daily disposables makes it less likely for eye infections to take hold!

    I would also say that it’s worrying that contact lenses, even if cosmetic, are being sold without opticians being involved. It was my optician who showed me how to insert them in the correct way, and drummed into me how important lens hygiene is. And I also get a contact lens check-up every year to make sure there’s no sign of infection or corneal abrasion. We only get one pair of eyes, so we should definitely take good care of them!!

    Sorry for the super-long comment!

  2. Felicia says

    I’ve worn circle lens for almost 2 years now and i really think that they are as dangerous as normal colored contacts. They are made from the same material and with care, they will be fine to wear.

    I really hated that article because they had alot of inaccurate informations.

  3. Aleksandra says

    To be honest, I find the “if it’s not from America, it’s not safe!” attitude annoying, and maybe a bit xenophobic at times. While I understand why most countries want you to abide by THEIR regulatory commissions, other countries also have them. So if something is approved in a country like the U.K. or Japan, I see no specific reason to automatically write it of.


    A lot of it is doing your research and knowing what you can and cannot handle, and realizing that as with all things that have to be regulated, you’re taking a risk using whichever product it is you decide to use. One needs to be careful about Circle Lenses, especially, since contact lenses ARE a prescription item. I have a pair, and I have worn them several times, but I would recommend them only for experienced and responsible contact users. They are larger than regular contacts, so inserting them can be a pain. It’s also very, very bad to skip the cleaning. Very bad.

    It’s important to know how much your eyes can handle and what persecution you have, if any. Most people can get away with the lenses offered, but in the case of, say, severe astigmatism, it’s better to just drop the infatuation and not waste the time or money.

    The one year of wear claim should not be seen as a guarantee, since getting attached to them is dangerous. As soon as the edges get raggedy, you need to throw them away, and as soon as they become uncomfortable to wear, they need to be taken out.

    As a final note: Circle lenses can be authenticated, and it’s usually best that you do to make sure they’re not knock-offs. I would only suggest buying from a reputable source and throwing them away if you see no means of authentication.

    Quite sorry if I was preaching to the choir here–this kind of stuff makes me channel my granny.

  4. Jaffra says

    I don’t know… my uncle’s an opthamologist and says cosmetic use of contact lenses is a risky business. Especially circle lenses that require so much more care than regular sized ones (and unfortunately people buying them often don’t do more than store them in solution).

    Plus, on a personal note, in photos/video they look okay but in person they look bloody freaky. I’ve been to Japan a few times and i’ve yet to see someone look remotely human in them. What’s worse is that these girls are under the delusion that these terrifyingly exaggerated pupils make them look more attractive. You can do far more with makeup and it’ll look a lot better. They make people, like you said, look cartoon-like.

    I know the Japanese have an unusual fixation on young looking girls (don’t get me started on that) but i’d imagine these to be much less appreciated in the West unless you’re someone that has an entire ‘image’ to go with them like Gaga. Circle lenses and work clothes? Weird.

    If you’re not fussed about looking normal (or if you’re young, I shudder to think what these would look like on anyone over about 21 years old) then go for it! Definitely a statment piece!

  5. says

    I agree with Jen – I wear clear contact lenses for vision correction, and I’d be *very* wary of using circle/coloured lenses:

    a) all the time – I tried coloured ones ages ago (they looked pants) but my optician said they should only be worn occasionally as they can obscure vision (when your pupils dilate so that the coloured bit covers some of them) and I found them less comfortable than clear lenses

    b) without proper advice and annual checks. Opticians can’t continue to supply you with corrective lenses if you don’t have the annual checks

    c) you shouldn’t even wear clear ones every day – I have a day off each week.

  6. says

    I think the main problem is people who buy fashion lenses are not taught how to insert them, look after them and clean them. Ive been wearing coloured lenses for years, but started off with ones i bought from an opticians as thats all that were available at the time. Ive got 2 pairs of circle lenses and they are very comfortable to wear. I dont wear them everyday, just when i feel like have a different look. I clean them regularly and always store them in sealed lense containers. They seem the same quality as the optician ones i had.

  7. mint says

    I have a pair but have yet to have the courage to try wearing them. I agree with the others. It’s risky only if people do not know how to take care of them properly. Like all contact lens prescription or not, there is a risk involved from putting anything in our eyes. Just like how a friend told me she read in the news, some guy used their own saliva to moists their prescitpion lens and nearly went blind. I’ve researched more information about how to take care of these circle lens and personally don’t want the hassle yet. I think if people aren’t prepared to take care of these lens or prescription ones then don’t wear them.

  8. Lee says

    I feel the same as everyone else, they are ok but you have to care for them properly. I do have a couple of pair and they are also corrective, I wear circle or coloured lenses for the simple reason I had a mishap with my PRESCRIPTION lenses after they split and got lost in my eye leading to conjunctivitis *ouch*, it got better but put me off of clear contacts for good. At least with these if they wander (which rarely happens) I can see where they are. I also find they are more comfortable then normal ones.

  9. Lisa says

    I’ve been wearing circle coloured lenses now for around a year now and I’ve not really had any problems with them. They have all the risks that regular contact lenses have. As long as you clean them and take care of them and your eyes regulary, you should be fine. The safest precaution would be to go to your option or eye doctor, and consult with them if your eyes are the right shape/condition, fit to wear contact lenses. You could also ask them for advice with how to take care of lenses, and how to insert and take them out.

    On top of that, you should read up on circle lens safety precautions. For instance, for prescribed contact lenses, you can probably wear them all day long, but for circle lenses, you should only wear them for up to 6-8hrs per day, and you shouldn’t really wear them everyday. This is because circle lenses are thicker than your usual lens, because they last for a year. However, this is not to stay it is dangerous, you just have to be more wary of this fact, because your eyes need to breathe too! :)

    Other than that, like you said, you’ve seen loads of people on youtube wearing them, and they seem fine with it, because they obviously follow the rules and have had an enjoyable experience with them, as have I. I think it would be safe to try out a pair, after you’ve had the thumbs up from your option, as I think for make up junkies, it can totally transform your look! 😉

    Good luck!

  10. says

    Aren’t Circle Lenses verified safe by Korea’s version of the FDA? Of course that isn’t as good as the US FDA according to some. >_>

    If they (whoever ‘they’ are) want to make a fuss about this, then they need to supply circle lenses in the US and make them available the way normal lenses are – via an eye doctor. That way users would be forced to learn how to care for lenses and be properly fitted for lenses. That would be ideal but probably never happen.

    I wear contact lenses and have since I was 13. I would totally wear circle lenses if my eyes weren’t all astigmatism-ed.

  11. Julia says

    It also depends on where you buy them from. Authentic GEO circle lenses are approved by the Korean medical (association? the place where they say its safe to wear) you take care of them and you register them on the GEO website, they should be fine. I have quite a few pairs of circle lens that I wear to school every day, but I match them to my eye colour and do the whole ‘anime school girl’ look.

  12. says

    I’m in two minds about them – if they’re from, say, a reputable Japanese or Korean vendor, then I’d be confident in them being well-made and safe to use. On the flip side, I’ve only seen them look really speccy maybe a handful of times, and the rest of the time they just look slightly off-putting and hugely fake.

    They’re one of those things where if you can pull them off then go for it, but just because you can doesn’t always mean you should!

  13. Julie says

    Always wanted to try them, never had enough money to get one along with the equipment in order to keep them clean. Maybe next year.
    I never wore contact lenses either so I think it’s best if I head down to my local Specsavers to get a trial set and see how I manage o-o
    I don’t really like the idea of putting stuff in my eye or even touching it!

  14. Mei says

    Personally I don’t think they are more dangerous than contact lenses purchased here. The only difference between circle lenses and normal ones is that they have less water content and there is more colour pigmentation. Of course, that has its risks as water content can affect oxygen levels but there are always alternative brands you can buy (Acuvue, i.Fairy and so on) whose water content is the same as ‘normal’ brands. Regarding colour pigmentation, just because they are manufactured in Asia, doesn’t mean that the manufacturers do not follow the same methods and safety procedures as other companies. Diameter can also vary with lenses, but actually they normally have the same diameter as normal contacts (14mm or so)

    I’ve started wearing circle lenses since this year and I have had no problems – it’s just people who do not follow basic procedures for caring for contact lenses (ie wearing them everyday for 10 hours or so, or washing them with tap water) who face the consequences. Actually, I’ve found them to be a lot better for me, as I have astigmatism and have been unable to obtain cosmetic toric lenses within the UK. Circle lenses have enabled me to wear cosmetic but also rather comfortable lenses. I try to stay safe by only wearing them occasionally for LESS than 6 hours.

    Furthermore, what I find absurd is how the media is saying that they are so dangerous and how people can become blind after contracting an infection. But that’s the case with all contact lenses! As people have argued before, it has been approved by the KDA and they have been worn by many Asians for years, including celebs (examples being Jaejoong, UEE and so on). If they were so dangerous, surely celebs wouldn’t be endorsing them? I think that the media coverage has been OTT, especially since we get a lot of other products from China and other Asian countries and the fact that they are actually selling circle lenses in the UK in well-known shops (Boots, D&A) through selling Acuvue Define. It’s just some marketing thing really.