Beautician Kavita Chauhan (28) had normal vision till the day she decided she needed to look different and more attractive.
She bought a pair of coloured contact lenses from a friend's optical shop. Within three days she developed severe corneal infection and was on the verge of losing her vision.
Ophthalmologists in the city have received many a complaint like Chauhan's. Kavita Singh, 26, an HR executive with a multinational bank bought contact lenses to wear at an office party. She wore it for 15 hours at a stretch and within a week developed corneal ulcer.
“It was a nightmare. My eyes started hurting and my vision was blurred,” said Chauhan, who now has to wear spectacles for clear vision.
Dr Vandana Jain, cornea surgeon of Aditya Jyot Eye Hospita, who treated both the above cases, said that "obsession and prolonged use" of contact lenses caused major ocular damages. "We get such cases more than often and the situation is turning grimmer,” said Jain.
Ill-fitting contact lenses worn without a doctor's prescription, or monitoring, could lead to severe corneal ulcers (open sore on the cornea caused by its damage).
“Lenses bought over the counter without checking eye power can lead to permanent vision loss,” said Jain, adding that contact lens users run a heightened risk of ulcers if they are callous about cleaning and disinfecting lenses.
Craze for cosmetic lenses has led to lens losing its primary function of vision correction, claim doctors. Budding actor Anshika Modi, 24, has different shades of lenses to match her dresses.
“For me looking attractive is the most important thing,” she said. She never cares to consult an ophthalmologist before buying them. “It is like buying cosmetic from any other departmental store, so why go to a doctor,” she said.
Dr Ragini Parekh, Associate Professor at JJ Hospital, said that if lenses were worn for long stretches, the required amount of oxygen would not reach the cornea.
“It can cause the cornea's outer layer to produce bacterial receptors that invites infection-causing bacteria to the eye,” she said, warning coloured lenses should not be worn everyday.
Doctors believe opticians, to some extent, are also to be blamed for the mayhem. There are no prescriptions required to buy a pair of lenses. While some have optometrist to check eye power, there are many who sell contact lenses without any examination.
“We sell around 5-7 pairs of cosmetic lenses on a daily average, but it goes up to 10-12 pairs at festivals,” said optometrist Tushar Salvi of Lund and Blockley at Fort.