A circle contact lens, also known as a big eye contact lens and circle lens, is a cosmetic contact lens that makes the eye's iris appear larger. It has become a trend in Japan, South Korea and China and is largely produced in these countries.
Circle lens make one's eyes appear larger and come in a variety of colors and effects. They have been around since 2004 and are very popular in countries such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China. The diameter of regular contact lenses that are sold in the United States are on average 14mm–16mm. Similar to the diameter of regular contact lenses, circle lens have no more than 15mm (diameter) since larger sizes would be harmful to the eyes at daily wear. When the diameter of the circle lens is described as 16mm or 18mm, it is only the provided visual effect of the circle lens. The difference between the two types of lenses is that circle lens are tinted not only in areas that cover the iris of the eye, but also prominently in the extra-wide outer rim of the lens. The result is the appearance of a bigger, wider iris and create an illusion of large eyes. The optical zone in the middle is transparent and it is large enough to provide clear vision. When big eye contacts first launched, they were only available in yearly disposable format, but as the trend spread, these lenses are now available as dailies, biweeklies and monthlies. The lenses are popular among teenagers and young adults. Many people consider circle lens to be a fashion accessory rather than a medical device. In Hong Kong, many young female models wear as a popular fashion icon.
In Asia circle contact lenses can be bought in some stores. They can be purchased without a prescription (0.00 or plano or with prescription). Their legality in the west varies with the local laws, and in the United States they are currently classified as a medical device and are not legal for sale without a valid prescription.
Concerns with these lenses in the United States arise from people buying lenses without consulting their optometrists, which could result in lenses that do not fit the individual's eyes properly . Many circle lenses are manufactured in Korea, under the approval and guidelines of the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA). There are brands and companies functioning without this approval, as not all brands are manufactured in Korea. The main risk in circle lenses is higher risk of neovascularization.
In the United States decorative, non-corrective contact lenses are considered medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and sale and marketing of such devices require market clearance by the FDA and a valid prescription from a medical professional. Additionally, in the event that devices that have not been cleared by the FDA are found by US Customs at the border they may be subject to seizure. Korean contact lens companies Geo Medical Inc. and Migwang Contact Lens (operating under the brand name Clearlab in the US) have been approved by the FDA for sale in the United States. Acuvue, an American subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), has a line prescription of 1-Day circle lenses available only in Far East markets.
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