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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Experts warn of dangers lurking in contact lenses

Experts warn of dangers lurking in contact lenses

BLONDE hair and coloured contact lenses are popular among Asian youths and stars who are at the forefront of fashion.

Cambodian singer Sok Pisey, known for her beautiful looks, rather than her singing voice, often wears green or even violet contact lenses when she appears on the concert stage.

Other Cambodian models and actors such as Mak Sen Sonita, Tim Ratha, Keo Pich Pisey, and Lim Marina are usually photographed with various coloured contact lenses in their magazine and newspaper photo shoots.

The trend has also spread to the United States, Australia, and Canada, driven by Lady Gaga’s video for her song “Bad Romance”, in which she displayed larger-than-life eyes. The lenses are popular among Asian teenagers and adults. The lenses create an illusion of doe-like eyes. Many people consider them as a fashion accessory rather than medical devices.

However, they were not without their dangers, eye care specialists said.

Ophthalmologists fear that Lady Gaga’s example in wearing the coloured lenses could lead youngsters to compromise their eye health or even, in extreme cases, risk blindness.

According to ophthalmologist Kruy Arv Pors of Preah Ang Doung in Phnom Penh, wearing coloured contact lenses is not safe in countries where pollution and dust are common, like Cambodia.

The expert recommends that if you do use them, wear them for a short period only to avoid long-term effects on your eyes. But wearing such lenses can also cause allergies and irritation in otherwise healthy people, he cautions.

According to contactlensdoctor.com, contact lenses can be made of various plastics, such as rigid gas permeable hard lenses, semi-hard contact lenses, or soft lenses.

“Hard lenses cannot let oxygen inside the eyeball, which can dry out the surface of the eye, which can lead to blindness if they are worn for any length of time,” the website said.

In Cambodia, coloured lenses can be bought for just $20 to $30 a pair – and no prescription is needed. But in the West, these products are not yet on shops’ shelves and can only be bought online.

The New York Times noted that coloured contact lenses were being worn around the country and were readily available in cosmetic and prescription variants on the internet despite being illegal in the US The FDA, the Optometrists Association of Australia, and Health Canada have not approved their use.

“The key factors that users have to know are to choose types of contact lenses that suit your eyes and consult with an ophthalmologist if any unusual problems happen,” said Kruy Arv Pors.

He said that nowadays Cambodian people who have problems with their eyes needed to be aware of three things.

“First, remedy problems such as red eyes affected by bacteria; second, various eye diseases may need an operation; and thirdly, always wear the correct prescription for your eyes, rather than wearing glasses made for other people,” he said. Spectacles were easier on the eyeballs than contact lenses, he pointed out.

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