Color contact lenses are used to enrich or change the natural color of the eyes for movies, television, or for sheer fun. They can also be corrective lenses, but a corrective prescription is not necessary to wear color contacts.
The iris is the portion of the eye that contains pigment. Color contacts are clear in the center to reveal the pupil, while the outer ring that rides on the iris is tinted, or in some lenses, hand painted. Hand painted lenses include subtle detail and varied colors that recreate depth in the iris, giving the eyes a natural appearance.
Although very dark eyes appear to be one solid color, anyone with lighter brown, hazel, green or blue eyes actually have various colors and patterns in the iris. Some have a starburst pattern; others have tiny rays of yellow, gold or black within the blue, green or gray background. These subtle patterns and varied colors are what give eyes a feeling of depth.
The real difference in quality between color contacts is in how natural they look. The more natural looking, the more expensive they will be compared to solid-tinted lenses. Making single-color contacts is a less expensive process than making intricate patterns of varied colors. Less expensive lenses, although providing striking color, can look unnatural. Prices therefore vary widely, depending on the lenses chosen.
Color contacts will require an eye exam even if the lenses will not be corrective. An optometrist will need to make sure the lenses fit properly and center themselves after blinking. A lens that fits too tight will dry the eye out and become uncomfortable, while a lens that is not tight enough will wander off the iris.
Special color contacts made for sheer fun range from cat's eyes with an elliptical pupil, to no pupils showing at all, as with American flag contact lenses or butterfly lenses. Light easily penetrates lens material so designs that cover the pupil do not impair vision.
High quality color contacts can create a striking difference in how one looks. If you've always wanted sea green eyes, pale blue or amber gold, color contacts will allow you to change the color of your eyes as easily as your clothes.