Go to contents

Doctors Advise Caution When Wearing “Circle Lenses”

Posted July. 25, 2004 22:21,   


Circle lenses have become the talk of the town recently, because many female entertainers are appearing on TV shows wearing them. Circle lenses are a type of color contact lenses on which black lines are drawn around the pupil area so the wearer’s eyes can appear larger and clearer.

As circle lenses are gaining popularity, even among junior- and high-school students who want their eyes to look bigger, the number of patients who visit ophthalmologic clinics due to eye infections is also increasing.

Dr. Lee Dong-ho, director of Bit-Sarang ophthalmologic clinic in Sangye-dong, Nowon-gu, Seoul, observes, “Three patients a day on average visit my clinic for ailments caused by wearing contact lenses, and 70 percent of them are circle lens wearers.”

Dr. Lee Dong-sung, director of Dream Sungmo ophthalmologic clinic in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, agrees: “Since circle lenses became popular, I see about three or four more junior- or high-school students in a day who have conjunctivitis (pinkeye) or keratitis (cornea inflammation).”

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already issued warnings about permanent eye damage and a loss of vision caused by wearing color lenses without an expert’s prescription. The Consumer Protection Board in Korea also gave a consumer safety warning against circle lenses in June of last year.

Why are the circle lenses so dangerous? The cornea of the eye receives oxygen carried in tears, but when someone wears circle lenses, the lenses stick to the corneas and block tear circulation, eventually interfering with oxygen delivery to the eyes. A cornea deprived of oxygen easily loses its function and also becomes vulnerable to viruses. Most circle lenses have pigments on their surface, so that irritation to the eye is greater and oxygen permeability is lower than with regular contact lenses.

Dr. Lee Dong-ho advises, “So many color lenses and circle lenses are flooding the market right now and many of them are not thoroughly tested and verified. When considering contact lenses, please do get a consultation from a doctor.

To minimize any problems from wearing circle lenses, wear them for only two or three hours at a time. Also, maintenance of the lens cannot be emphasized enough: rinse lenses in running water and get rid of buildup with enzyme cleaner.”

Jin-Han Lee likeday@donga.com