Screenshot from Lady Gaga's videoclip Bad Romance
Women who long for doe eyes and an intense gaze have a new ally: eye-widening circle lenses. The trend, which was born in Asia, hit the US this year after Lady Gaga appeared with digitally enlarged eyes in her music video, Bad Romance.
Circle lenses, which often come in vivid colours or don little stars and hearts, cover part of the white area in the eyes to make the pupil look larger. The lenses have been sold freely for years in countries like South Korea and Japan, where young girls try to create manga-like faces with the help of heavy eye makeup and cosmetic lenses. In South Korea, big doe eyes are the main criterion for hip “Ulzzang” (or “best face”, in Korean) youths, some of whom have shot to Internet stardom based solely on their looks.
Circle lenses are illegal in the US because they haven’t been approved by federal health officials, but that doesn’t stop teenagers from buying them online from foreign Web sites and posting online tutorials on how to achieve the perfect Lady Gaga look.
US opticians expressed concern that the lack of quality control could lead to problems ranging from mild irritations to blindness-inducing infections. Leading circle lens manufacturers say their products are as safe as any other contact lenses and have been approved by all Korean and Japanese health authorities.
Lady Gaga "Bad Romance" Look Tutorial. Video posted on YouTube by MichellePhan, January 18, 2010.
"They're a fun and easy way to change my look"
I don’t wear circle lenses every day, I use them more to make a point of interest to my outfits. I wear them because they’re a fun and easy way to change my look on a day to day basis. Obviously if I was to go out with lenses and no other make up it might look very strange but lenses (just like any other fashion accessory) need to be styled to achieve a nice look. I wear Hime Gyaru fashion, which is a street fashion from Japan with very styled hair and eyes.
The lenses can be very comfortable depending on the brand. I get mine online and am very happy with them. Before trying them I spoke to both my optometrist and the owner of the website to get recommendations, correct eye care advice and find out which lenses would suit my particular eyes.
The most irritation I have experienced is having slightly dry eyes after wearing the lenses all day, this is easily fixed with eye drops. Good hygiene is VERY important when using anything that is going to touch your eyes."
"Beginner's circle lenses". Video posted on YouTube by elisasung, January 29, 2010.
"Contact lenses should never be bought over the Internet"
From a medical point of view, colored or cosmetic lenses are not any less safe than prescription contact lenses, as long as they are manufactured according to the correct protocol and thoroughly cleaned before and after wearing them.
However, it’s never a good idea to get lenses over the Internet. Firstly, because it’s hard to be 100% sure that the products respect adequate quality standards. Secondly, because any person who wants to wear contact lenses, whether it be for eyesight or aesthetic reasons, should see an optometrist at least once to check that his/her eyes can stand them (some eyes don’t produce enough tears and will very quickly become dry and itchy). A follow-up visit after several weeks of wearing lenses is also a good idea, because you don’t always notice a nascent infection straight away.
I’ve seen young patients catch serious eye infections because they share their coloured lenses with their friends, depending on what eye colour they feel like having that day! That’s one of the worse things you could possibly do to your eyes."
Photo posted on ulzzang-kawai blog, June 2nd, 2007.
Photo posted here.