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Cosmetic Changes to Your Eyes

Changing the Appearance of Your Eyes: Where to Draw the Line

If you’re considering making any change to the way your eyes look, keep in mind that not all enhancements are safe.

In fact, your eyes are often more sensitive to cosmetic adjustments than other parts of your body, and some cosmetic improvements can be downright dangerous. If you’re going to make any adjustments to your eyes, consider the possible downsides before you do.

Colored Lenses

Tinted contact lenses let you easily change the color of your eyes. Your optometrist can provide colored lenses with a prescription to correct near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism, although these lenses are often more expensive than non-colored lenses.

Colored lenses are also available without a prescription for those who just want to enhance their own eye color or change their eye color. They come in a variety of colors, including shades of blue, green, violet, hazel, gray or brown, and they can be just slightly tinted or completely opaque. Generally, wearing contacts is safe, but it’s important to follow the care instructions and to replace them as needed.

Lately, cosmetic contact lenses trends are going beyond just color to include more options for changing your iris shape. They’re popular for costume-like uses, such as for a cat-eye or a zombie look. In several Asian countries, circle lenses that make your iris look bigger are increasingly popular, but be aware that in the U.S. it’s illegal to buy big circle lenses without a prescription.

Colored or costume lenses can have a number of negative consequences, including a loss of vision quality or an infection caused by a cut or scratch. Because these lenses are painted, they may prevent enough oxygen from reaching your eye. They can cause injuries that require serious procedures like a corneal transplant. In some cases, they’ve even caused blindness.

Be very skeptical of any contact lens packaging that says “one size fits all” or tells you that it’s not necessary to see an eye doctor to use them. Always get an optometrist’s approval and a proper fitting before you wear contact lenses of any kind.


Botox injections have become an increasingly common way to reduce wrinkles, including those tiny “crow’s feet” wrinkles near your eyes when you squint or smile.

Products like Botox work by weakening particular muscles so they do not contract. This treatment is usually effective and generally has few side effects, but if it’s not administered properly, you could experience some unwelcome consequences like droopy eye or eye numbness. Botox has been known to cause swelling that can make it difficult to close your eyes, although this is fairly uncommon.

Keep in mind that while many people are pleased with the results, Botox is not permanent, and it can cost several hundred dollars per treatment. So, if you are treating your wrinkles in this way, you’ll likely have to get injections every three or four months.


Wearing make-up like eyeliner or eyeshadow around your eyes is generally considered safe, but keep in mind that not all cosmetic products on the market are made the same. Some make-up can contain ingredients that will irritate your eye and cause redness, itchiness or dryness.

In addition, many consumers are not aware that the cosmetics industry is not regulated the way that the food industry is. So, make-up is not required to be tested and it’s not guaranteed to be safe. Essentially, cosmetics can include questionable ingredients that can be toxic, so either try to buy natural make-up or get familiar with the ingredients list.

Eye Tattoos

Although many people find it odd, sclera tattoos are one of the newest trends in eye aesthetics. With this technique, a tattooist injects ink into the whites of the eyes to give them a different color or pattern.

These tattoos still fairly rare, and that’s a good thing – because they are extremely dangerous. Tattooing your eye could cause blindness or even the loss of your eye. It can easily lead to blurry vision or pain. The tattoo needle can scratch your eye and result in an infection.

And remember, unlike colored contact lenses, this cosmetic change is permanent. However, if you are determined to get a sclera tattoo, make sure you get one from a professional eye surgeon, not an average tattoo artist.

The Bottom Line

Of course, if you’re going to make any change to the way your eyes look, consult your optometrist to be sure the move you want to make is safe. Your eye doctor can review the risks and benefits of cosmetic enhancements so that you can make the best decision for your health, finances and lifestyle.