I was an awkward teen in biology class when a girl who managed to bypass the weirdness of puberty waltzed into the room with violet eyes. This was at the height of the colored contacts phenomenon, and as our classmates gawked in amazement, I cursed my own muddy irises. I begged my mother that evening for green contacts. She said no.
Fast forward a decade and colored contacts are not exactly chic, but I found myself living a version of my teenage dream last week when I sat at the eye doctor’s office, picking out my own pair of Acuvue’s new Define Lenses, which promise to enhance your own natural color rather than mask it.
But how? The line surrounding the iris (the pigmented part of your eye) is called the limbal ring, and studies have found that a naturally darker and defined limbal ring is associated with attractiveness and youth, for both females and males. Think about the piercing eyes of that young Afghan girl in Steve McCurry’s famous photograph for National Geographic, or Angelina Jolie’s stunning pair. A much creepier example is Robert Durst, who reportedly relied on limbal ring-enhancing lenses for a more likable appearance.
It’s this research that fueled Acuvue’s Define collection—that, and a new market. “Millennials are less inclined to go with colored lenses, because this generation wants something much more natural,” Susan Resnick, O.D. F.A.A.O., told me when I visited her optometry practice in New York City to get fitted for my pair. (While I wear prescription lenses daily, you can also choose to get non-corrective Define lenses if you’re #blessed with 20/20 vision.) She explained that it’s not just the fact that these lenses define the outer edge while letting the natural color shine through that make them superior to the ones I coveted as a young teen. The Define lenses are carefully designed to mimic and intensify the patterns and light reflection on the iris. In other words, I was assured that it wouldn’t be painfully obvious that these eyes aren’t quite my own.
I was given three kinds of Define lenses to choose from: Natural Shimmer, which offers just a subtle definition to the limbal ring; Natural Shine, which is just a bit more intense; and Sparkle, which also adds a subtle hint of blue to the iris. After trying on both the Shimmer and Sparkle at once, I settled for the former—I was astounded at the way they made my eyes pop. It was like I had suddenly gained four additional hours of sleep in that moment, though I was functioning on just that many (plus several cups of coffee). And yet, it’s my eye color. I like my eyes these days as they are, but I was very impressed by this little boost.
In a way, I finally got that green color I begged my mother for, several years later, but in a much more believable way: The Define lenses really set off the olive flecks in my irises, but no one would be the wiser unless I told them. See, teen self? Life really does get better.