Knowledge and Use of Cosmetic Contact Lenses among Reproductive-Age Women

Abbey B. Berenson, Jacqueline M. Hirth, Mihyun Chang, Kevin H. Merkley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: To assess use, knowledge, and complications of cosmetic contact lenses (CCLs) among women of reproductive age. Methods: A cross-sectional, anonymous self-administered survey assessing cosmetic or decorative contact lens knowledge and experiences was completed by 686 women in Texas in 2017. Main outcome measures were use, knowledge, and associated complications. Results: Almost 1 in 4 women (164/686) reported prior use of CCLs and most had worn the lenses >3 times. Women born in the United States, who knew someone who wore cosmetic lenses, or had visited an eye doctor in the past year were more likely to have used CCLs. Knowledge scores were low and the majority of cosmetic lens users experienced complications (61%). The most frequently reported complications were eye pain and discomfort (35%); itchy, watery eyes (34%); and red, swollen eyes (28%). Borrowing lenses was significantly associated with medical complications (88% of borrowers reported complications). Among 18 respondents who sought medical attention for a CCL-related problem, only 11% obtained care within 24 hours. Few participants had discussed CCL use with an eye doctor in the past year. Conclusions: Many U.S. women have used CCLs obtained from unauthorized sources. Knowledge of safe practices is very limited and most users develop complications. Interventions are needed to educate the public about the risk of CCL use to reduce adverse outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-409
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • contact lens risks
  • cosmetic contact lenses
  • decorative contact lenses
  • eye health
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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