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Unread 11-20-2008, 07:38 PM   #1
PhoenixStarr44
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Costume Contacts: Purchasing/Wearing/Preserving for the curious

I noticed recently that there are a lot of threads about purchasing costume contacts. As someone who has been wearing perscription contacts for the better part of 8 years and wearing costume contacts for 5 years, I'm certainly not an authority on the subject but I thought I might be able to offer some help to those who see this post.

Purchasing Costume Contacts

Firstly and most importantly, before you buy contacts of any kind you should get an eye exam, even if you have perfect vision! I AM NOT JOKING. You can get an eye exam for relatively cheap at any store that sells contacts or eyeglasses (I paid 40 dollars for such an exam without any insurance). There are two reasons to get this exam:

1) you need to make sure your eyes are healthy enough to wear contacts.
2) you need to know your base curve.

What is a base curve?
A base curve is basically the diameter of your lens(here's a picture). This is the part of the eye that is generally covered by a contact, so it's extremely important that a contact be properly fitted to that part of your eye.

Most people have a base curve between 8 and 10 millimeters. Within about half a millimeter you can get away with a pair of costume contacts. Much more than that, and the contacts will burn and hurt and turn your eye red. They can even scratch the lens of your eye and, in the most severe cases, you can be blinded. Yeah. I'm not joking about this.

Most costume contacts have a base curve between 8.5 mm and 9mm.

When you get an eye exam the doctor can tell you the base curve of your eye in your perscription information.

Now that you've got your perscription, you need to find a place to get contacts!

What follows is a list of places that I have found reliable in providing high-quality, comfortable costume contacts for a range of prices and perscriptions. Your milage may vary.

Try Color Contacts - This website provides TEMPORARY contacts (2-week use; if preserved well and used intermittently they will last for up to a year) in multiple colors and types and in different perscriptions. They offer color enhancers and color changers both, and also more dramatic looks. Prices range from 20$/pair to 80$/pair.

Color Lens 4 Less - This website provides temporary contacts (month-long use; if preserved well and used intermittently they will last for over a year) in multiple colors and types, but ONLY IN PLANO. They offer color enhancers and color changers both and lots of dramatic look contacts. Prices range from 20$/pair to 60$/pair.

9mm Special Effect Lenses - What list would be complete without this famous website? For dramatic look lenses in perscription, 9mm is the best. They offer PERMANENT lenses (meant to last for a year; I've had my first pair from them for 4 1/2 years and still going strong) in dramatic looks and even offer sclera contacts. Prices range from 150$/pair to 400$/pair.

a note about sclera contacts
Sclera contacts are the kind you need for things like Allen Walker's cursed eye, Kisame from Naruto, and Medusa from Soul Eater in the middle of an Evil Moment. To buy sclera contacts you need one more piece of information from your doctor - how 'wide' the contacts should be (in terms of millimeters). In other words, they can tell you how much of your eye is exposed when your eyes are open. If you buy them too big you can hurt the muscles of your eyes; if you buy them too small the whites of your eyes will show a lot.

Most doctors will tell you never to wear sclera contacts. Ask anyway, and explain that you won't wear them for more than a few hours at a time, and then only occasionally. =D


Important terminology:
Temporary lenses - this refers to lenses meant to last less than a year before replacement. After their 'expiration date' these contacts tend to rip, tear, or split, making them unwearable.
permanent lenses - lenses meant to last a year or more. Technically all contacts expire after a year because perscriptions expire after a year.
color enhancers - these contacts won't change the color of your eye dramatically; instead of being painted with a flat color they're painted with a thin color that merely alters the color of your own iris.
color changers - these contacts are painted opaque with color so that the natural color of your iris is completely invisible.
plano - contacts with no perscription strength. If you have perfect vision you wear plano costume contacts.
sclera - contacts that cover more than just your iris.


Wearing Costume Contacts

So you've never worn contacts before but you REALLY need to have sharingan contacts for Sasuke. Totally understandable. Here's what you need to get started:

1)A bottle of contact solution. (ReNu, Opti-Free, etc.) You can get this at your local convenience store or grocery store in a variety of brands. As you wear your contacts you will find out which brand of contact solution works best for you.
2)A contact case. It will keep the contacts together and well-preserved. Solution and cases often come together in bundles, so take advantage of that!
3)Eyedrops. Contacts, you will quickly discover, dry out your eyes! Keep a small bottle of eyedrops with you to help keep your eyes naturally wet.

Everyone has different methods of putting in contacts. When you get your eye exam, you can ask the doctor if you can practice with a pair. You need to figure out the best way to get your contacts in. Watch yourself in a mirror and do it over a clean sink/counter.

Wash your hands first, or this will hurt.

When you first get your contacts, they will be wet and very clean. However, unless you're VERY lucky, you're probably not going to get them in the first time. They're going to land on your hand, in the sink, on the floor - yeaaah. Wash your contacts in your chosen solution every time they drop.

To wash your contacts, place the lens edge-up in your palm. Douse your palm in solution, then gently press your pointer finger down on the contact and swirl it around in the solution. To get the inside of the contact clean, gently fold the contact between your thumb and pointer finger and rub it back and forth. GENTLY.

DON'T: wear your contacts for the first time on the day you put on your costume!
DO: practice putting in and taking out your contact lenses before the big day! This will save you a lot of heartache.

If your contacts burn and hurt the first time you get them in, you could have any number of problems, but the most likely ones are:

1)your contacts are inside-out. It's hard to tell but if you look at a contact in profile, you can see the edge of it. If it looks like the edges are flattened, they're inside-out. Ask your doctor about this when you get your perscription and they'll probably show you.
2)your solution is incompatible with your eye. Try a new brand.
3)your contacts aren't clean enough.

Bear in mind that discomfort will be normal. BURNING AND HURTING IS NOT.

To take out contacts, you can probably literally pinch them off your eye. it's not nearly as gross as it sounds. Just pinch your pointer finger and thumb together gently on the surface of the contact and it should pop right off. (It takes some practice.)

DON'T: Wear a pair of contacts for more than 6 hours. Even daily wear contacts are meant for no more than 8-10 hours a day, and that's for people used to wearing them! Try to avoid wearing contacts for too long.

Preserving/Taking Care of Costume Contacts

Well, the con is over, you're done with your contacts for another six months. What do you do with them now?

Caring for costume contacts is much like caring for normal contacts, but you have to remember to attend to them because they're being worn so much less often. Here's what you need:

1)Contact solution (again). The same solution you used to clean your contacts is the solution you're going to leave your contacts floating in for the next six months.
2)Contact case (again). This is an easy, safe place to store your contacts.

The contact solution will keep your contacts clean. You should replace the contact solution at least once a month. If you take a contact out of old solution and try to put it in your eye it will hurt so badly. Take it from someone who's tried.

Make sure you have a separate contacts case for every pair of contacts you own. Contacts should sit alone in their solution. If they don't sometimes they'll stick together, and if they don't come apart easily you can rip them, rendering them unusable.

Keep your contacts in a place that's usually room temperature and out of the sunlight to keep evaporation of the solution down.

WHAT IF (A kind of FAQ):
My contacts rip? Stop wearing them. Immediately. The damage you can do to your eye is massive. I recently scratched my eye lens with a pair of contacts that had the edge sliced off of them; my vision was blurry and cloudy for days, and I was lucky.

I forgot to change the solution and my contacts dried out in their case! No problem. Just add solution to the case again and in a couple of hours the contacts will restore themselves. Still, not a good idea to let that happen a lot.

Aaand I guess that's about all I have to say about that!

if anyone has any questions or anything to add please reply. I'd love to help out anyone with any questions they may have about wearing contacts!
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Last edited by PhoenixStarr44 : 11-20-2008 at 07:44 PM. Reason: man I fail at bbscode
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Unread 01-11-2009, 08:40 AM   #2
Hatake_Kakashi
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<3333
Thank you SO much for this! It was very helpful!

But one question, should you put your makeup on before or after you put in your contacts?
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Unread 01-11-2009, 09:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatake_Kakashi View Post
<3333
Thank you SO much for this! It was very helpful!

But one question, should you put your makeup on before or after you put in your contacts?
No, put your contacts in before you put on your makeup... at least wait to do you eye makeup until after you put your contacts in =)
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Unread 01-11-2009, 10:24 AM   #4
Sakanoue Ayame
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Wow this is a fabulous post. It is so good to hear from someone with past experience. I was always worried about buying costume contacts.

I have pretty near perfect vision (never had an eye test but also never had any sort of vision problems) so I was pleased to hear that you can get, what was it, Plano contacts? That you don't need a prescription to wear.

Thank you again for the advice. I have bookmarked this thread for future reference.
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Unread 01-11-2009, 04:09 PM   #5
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this should definitely be a sticky ^_^ thank you!
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Unread 01-13-2009, 09:45 AM   #6
PhoenixStarr44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sakanoue Ayame View Post
I have pretty near perfect vision (never had an eye test but also never had any sort of vision problems) so I was pleased to hear that you can get, what was it, Plano contacts? That you don't need a prescription to wear.

Thank you again for the advice. I have bookmarked this thread for future reference.
No problem! Just remember to get an optometrist visit even though your vision is perfect, so you can find out your base curve and get professional help with the process of putting contacts in.

The good news is that the base curve of your eye probably won't change, so it's a worthy investment for all future pairs of contacts you should buy! The other good news is that as someone with perfect vision your contacts generally cost less. XD;

Best of luck to you!
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Unread 01-14-2009, 05:53 AM   #7
JackShadow
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you said you still have a pair that youve had for 4 years.
how will you know when your contacts are starting to wear out.
i got my first pair ever this last october and i wana do everything i can to make em last as long as i can.. any general time frame as to how long they can last?
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Unread 01-14-2009, 03:42 PM   #8
PhoenixStarr44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackShadow View Post
you said you still have a pair that youve had for 4 years.
how will you know when your contacts are starting to wear out.
i got my first pair ever this last october and i wana do everything i can to make em last as long as i can.. any general time frame as to how long they can last?
If you keep changing the solution your contacts are sitting in and don't let them dry out, that will help keep the life of your contacts longer.

The time your contacts will last is variable depending on the type you bought: temporary (2 weeks), temporary (1 month), or permanent (1 year). 2-week contacts can last about 6 months before replacement if you're only wearing them periodically for conventions. 1-month contacts usually last between six months and a year. and permanent contacts can last for about 5 years.

These are the usual signs that contacts are no longer wearable or approaching that state:
--They become 'thin'. You'll notice that when you prepare to put the contact on your eye they start to sink onto your finger or stick to your finger more than your eye. That's a pair of contacts that needs replacing.
--They're ripped, torn, or have a slice missing from the edge of them. THROW THEM OUT IMMEDIATELY. You risk your eyesight if you wear those.
--They burn or hurt your eye when you put them in, no matter how much solution you wash them in. That means the contacts have built up too much protein to wear any more.

Best of luck!
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Unread 01-14-2009, 04:04 PM   #9
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Remember that theatrical lenses are thicker than regular contacts and will get drier quicker. Always have a bottle of lens wetting solution with you at all times. You'll find it with the other contact lens solutions, ask your eye doctor for recommendations. Use them often and that goes double for attending a con in a high altitude or very dry air.

Keep your nails clipped short, it decreases the chance you scratch your lens and/or eye while taking contacts in or out. Scratching your eye is not fun.

If you have any questions at all ask your eye doctor, after all he/she has years of training and is licensed in your state.
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Unread 01-14-2009, 04:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhoenixStarr44 View Post

These are the usual signs that contacts are no longer wearable or approaching that state:
Another is that it will become difficult to judge an inside-out contact from a right-side in contact.

Keep your nails short but don't cut them a few minutes before taking contacts out O.O; Try to file them before you do that to prevent scratching.

GET A PRESCRIPTION! GO TO A DOCTOR!! DON'T SKIMP YOUR EYES!!!!11!!1ELEVENTYONE!
You have only one set of eyes and unfortunately the next best thing when you lose one/go blind is shades or a glass eye. They haven't perfected eye-transfusions yet xP NEVER EVER put the health of your eyes at risk.

When you first get your lenses, and/or about a week before you intend to wear them, put them in for a few hours a day. Start with two hours, then do three, four, six. That way your eyes are more accustomed to the lenses and it'll be FAR less painful the day of the convention. ^^

Also, when you first get lenses, allot plenty of time to put them in the first two times. My first time at the doc's office was about 45+ minutes each. At home, the first was 1 hour. The second was 15 minutes. Now it's about 10 seconds =P

I find taking brandy new contacts out of the plastic thingy they come in are very difficult to put in. I advise you to at least rinse your new contacts in fluid before you put them in your eye.

If you have long eyelashes, use them to pull your eyelid up. It'll prevent the contact from getting stuck on your eyelid and not going on your eye. xD Trust me, that's not fun.

If you poke yourself in the eye w/ mascara normally, try putting it on with your eye closed. So close your one eye, like a light wink, and brush down from the root to the tip. This will prevent eye-poking and getting mascara on your lens. That's not fun. xD

Don't Jell-O wrestle with contacts in. XD

Uhh..if I think of any others I'll post again This is a great resource ^__^
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Unread 01-14-2009, 07:38 PM   #11
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Are all color contacts hard lenses, or do they make any that are soft lenses? My friend wears glasses, and has only ever tried hard lenses (and failed), but we need to get her some contacts. Do they make soft lenses in colors???

Hmm...
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Unread 01-14-2009, 07:46 PM   #12
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Yup! Acuvue, Fresh Look, both are soft lenses. I'm not sure about others. But most that I've seen are soft contacts. Care of soft and hard contacts are particularly different from what I've heard. :]
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Unread 01-14-2009, 08:21 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gravipull View Post
Are all color contacts hard lenses, or do they make any that are soft lenses? My friend wears glasses, and has only ever tried hard lenses (and failed), but we need to get her some contacts. Do they make soft lenses in colors???

Hmm...
Almost all contacts come in soft lenses nowadays, including costume/color contacts (although most costume contacts will be thicker than usual contacts). Hard contacts are usually employed to correct astigmatism, which is a condition where the eye itself has become misshapen instead of a lens/cornea error (which is the case with most people who need glasses). If your friend has only tried hard lenses ask her if it's because her doctor told her she had an astigmatism. Not everyone with astigmatism can wear soft contacts.

All of the sites recommended in the OP sell soft contacts.
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Unread 01-14-2009, 09:56 PM   #14
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They actually do have soft lenses for astigmatism, and there are the rare cases where the astigmatism actually goes away,which happened in my case.

Also, here's something for people that have regular clear lenses for vision, and ended up getting plano colors instead of a prescription. If you get the idea to double up your lenses, I suggest making sure you are well experienced with just one set in your eyes before hitting two. Having plenty of experience myself with this trick for getting more intense eye colors, it can LOOK cool, but you want to be VERY careful with it. You will need about twice the usual dose of drops in your eyes, and it cuts down your time that they can be in your eyes bout at least a fourth, if not in half, because your eyes WILL dry out faster, and get discomforted more readily. This trick is never advised by doctors, in fact, most will discourage it. The only reason I started getting this method in was because I didn't have the money for a full prescription lenses in colored, so I grabbed some planos, and popped them in over my regular lenses. I got lucky that my eyes were so adjusted to my contacts that it wasn't that much of a change, and when I doubled up my more recent blues, the color was very intense, but it's a method of coloring I do not advise for beginners. Typically it's only used for practical eye effects with movies like Mystique's eyes in the first X-men, when Rebecca had to wear two sets of contacts to get those eyes.
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Unread 01-14-2009, 11:38 PM   #15
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Link Harkanian: You cosplayed Dante! Is that what you doubled up the contacts for?

I was originally planning on going pretty much blind for Dante, because I definitely can't find the right color in perscription, but I might attempt the 'doubling up' method for a while at Ohayocon. =D
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