* Prices may differ from that shown
* The company:
Bausch + Lomb is a huge company in contact lenses and solutions. When I first started wearing contacts, 20+ years ago due to myopia, my consultant ophthalmologist prescribed me B&L without hesitation, and they have been the brand I'd consider first since. This doesn't mean, however, that the company has been free from glitches: a few years ago, ReNu, one of their contact lens disinfecting solutions, was accused for being contaminated and the company had to take action. However, the products by B&L remain highly innovative: the company offers contact lenses for a number of conditions, even those that previously did not have contact lenses available, such as: myopia & presbyopia (for Near-sighted/Far-sighted), Astigmatism, Cataract, and a Vision Shaping Treatment: it uses customized shaping lenses to correct your vision while you sleep so you can enjoy clear vision while you're awake! (it's expensive though, at about $1500/ year). More on the company and products on www.bausch.com
* The colours:
Since I must wear contacts for vision correction, I was delighted when coloured contacts became more affordable, as I like to own different colours and wear them according to my mood. My natural eyes are a "milk chocolate" brown and the B&L Soflens Natural Colors are an ideal option because they are created especially for dark eyes. Of course, the end colour varies a bit depending on your natural colour, and it tends to be a bit darker if you have dark eyes like mine. However, I have read comments from people with black eyes even, and they are very satisfied with the colour change. The great thing is that these lenses manage to cover my natural colour completely, but look very natural at the same time. They are available in nine colours: topaz, pacific, platinum, india, amazon, emerald, jade, aquamarine, indigo, and you can find online photos of how they look, through a simple google search.
I've used emerald, which is a dark green, but I wanted a lighter green shade and chose Jade, which looks great and VERY natural. People (even the passport control agency and police officers thought that green was my natural colour!). Topaz gives me very very intense dark blue eyes, but it is an unnatural colour by definition, and Indigo subtle purple eyes, which again, as you can see on the photo is unnatural, but still people get confused and think I have mauve eyes. People don't notice that I wear contacts, unless they come very close, and I get compliments from strangers, men and women, for the colours :) This makes the chore of having to correct my vision a lot more bearable and fun, plus I don't need to wear eye shadow very often, which can get into my eyes after a day's wear and then it hurts :(
* A few important tech bits that you need to know:
If you read reviews usually from people who wear coloured contacts purely for fun, and thus don't have experience using contact lenses, they sometimes complain that the B&L Soflens Natural Colors hurt their eyes and are uncomfortable. Well, these contacts are made of Polymacon and the company keeps them in a solution that may cause sensitivity to some. After you buy them it is best to transfer them into your usual solution for 24h before wearing them for the first time. Also, they have a standard diameter of 14mm, but a base curve of either 8.5 or 9.1. To put it simply, if you choose the wrong base curve then the lens won't "sit" properly onto your eye, it will move around, and it's not the lens' fault. You need to follow your optician's prescription.
Another thing is that these lenses have only 38.6% water. Thus, they are a bit more rigid than more 'high water' lenses, but this means they are easier to handle, because they are not so slippery on your fingers and they tend to stay more firmly on your eyes. I have dry eyes, so the fact that they don't require so much water suits me. However, some people may find the low water content uncomfortable, as most lenses on the market use high water contents. Again, check what you usually wear, to make your choice wisely.
Despite what some people say, I can definitely NOT feel the lenses while wearing them, and they are comfortable. I totally forget they are there. But if I wear them for more than 12hs and my eyes get dry, then the lenses will get dry too and they will start "slipping" (moving around as I blink). This is a faux-pas and creepy to someone who is talking to you(!), but it is most importantly a sign that
you need to remove the lenses and that your eyes are getting tired. Always keep some lubricating drops suitable for contact lenses at hand. I must admit that there have been a couple of cases where the contact was hurting my left eye (which is super sensitive) very intensely from the start, as if there was a foreign body on it. On inspection, there was no visible fault with the contact, but I had to throw it away. However, that's me not having the time to bother to send the contact back to the seller for proper inspection, and I also know that my left eye has been super sensitive and it reacts strangely sometimes, even with other contact lens brands. If it happens to you, try to send the contact back where you bought it from asap after buying it for proper control and ask for a replacement.
Some people also complain that the pupil hole of these lenses is small. This is either an advantage, because your natural colour won't show through the hole, or a disadvantage, because it may affect your night vision. Again, be informed! It seems most people don't realise that actually, B&L lenses come in two pupil radius options: 8.4 and 8.7, whereas most other coloured contacts are a standard 8.7. You need to choose what suits your eyes best. I wear the standard 8.7 and I have no problems. The colour doesn't show (maybe because my pupils naturally dilate more often) and I've never experienced any problems with my night vision or my driving.
The B&L Soflens Natural Colors contacts are designed for daily wear and are "monthlies", i.e. it is advised to change them after a month's use. I keep mine for longer, taking a lot of care disinfecting them properly, and never had problems, but I recommend that you do only what your optician suggests. They are also designed only for day wear, i.e. you must remove them every night and you should not fall asleep wearing them. I have slept with them on for up to 2 h and my eyes have felt dry afterwards, needing to use lubricating drops. Not something I recommend doing as you may get infections.
You pay about 25 GBP for a box of two (unfortunately of the same power, so if you need different power for each eye you need to pay another 25 GBP and you end up with two pairs, either you like it or not). Do shop around; prices vary and you can save a few pounds by choosing the best online company. There are a few good ones around.
*Comparison to other brands:
I tried Freshlook coloured contacts some years back and found them very uncomfortable in my eyes. I did not like the colour result either. I recently tried Expressions Colors by Coopervision in grey and the colour is more noticeably fake, and during the first days my lower peripheral vision of the left eye was a bit blurred (again, that's my moody left eye giving me problems). They were also more slippery due to higher water content and difficult to handle, but I slept with them on for about 7 hours (out of necessity as I missed the train home and I was at a friend's) and I could not believe that they felt comfortable when I woke up and did not stick to my eye! (I kept trying to lubricate my eyes and eyelids with water, though, throughout the night).
I give them 4 stars, removing one star for the very low water content. However, the B&L lenses are my first choice. They give you a good choice of colours, a choice of the pupil radius and base curve and a good choice of power (not all coloured contacts accommodate the higher ends of vision correction). Most colours are very natural even on dark eyes and you get lots of compliments! Because of the choice on radius and base curve, I suggest you see an optician for a prescription, to make sure you get the best fit for your eyes.