How Contact Lenses Bring Movies to Life

March 24th, 2020
How Contact Lenses Bring Movies to Life

Movie magic used to be a well-kept secret, but now insiders are lifting the curtain. Find out how cosmetic contact lenses help bring your favorite characters to life. 

Movie magic isn’t limited to creating fantasy worlds using CGI or expert makeup and prosthetics. Small details, like the color of someone’s eyes, can really make or break a character.

Would the Volturi of the Twilight franchise be as creepy if their eyes were blue instead of red? Probably not, so thank goodness we have the mini movie magic of contacts! Find out more about how contacts bring your favorite movies to life.  

How Do Contacts Work?

Hydrogel or “soft” contact lenses were first produced on a massive scale in 1971. They’re made of a hydrophilic plastic polymer that’s soft, breathable, water-absorbent, and strong enough to retain its optical qualities after repeated use. Contact lenses are made using either lathe cutting or injection molding.

In lathe cutting, dry disks of lens material are placed on spinning shafts and pressed into a curved shape using automated cutting tools. After the lenses are shaped, they’re removed from the lathe, softened, and finally, moved on to the quality assurance phase of the production process. Injection molding is a little faster and less expensive. The lens material is melted down under extreme heat, injected into molds, cooled, polished, and hydrated. 

Contact lenses correct common vision problems like astigmatism and nearsightedness by adjusting how light rays are focused onto the retina. If you’re nearsighted, for example, that means that light rays hit your eyes too early and form a focus point in front of your retinas instead of directly on it. To fix this, contact lenses break apart the light rays and move your eye’s focus point backward so it’s properly placed on the retina.  

Colored contact lenses do not always correct your vision, but they can shake up your image or complete a Halloween look. You can change your eyes from blue to brown, make a more subtle alteration, or even transform into a reptile for the evening. 

Making Silver Eyes for the Silver Screen

Colored contacts play a major role in popular shows and movies like Game of Thrones (2011-2019), Westworld (2016- ), and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010). Actors wear them to change their natural eye color to fit a role, look older, or look like something completely non-human.

Unlike colored contact lenses you can purchase online, lenses for the movies are not one size fits all. The actor’s eyes have to be checked by a professional to make sure that they’re suitable for lenses. The process includes a prescription check, a 3D retina scan, a dryness check using an eye-safe dye called fluorescein, and an in-depth look at the curvature of the eye and the diameter of the iris. After the actor is cleared and fitted for lenses, it takes two to three weeks to hand paint and manufacture the lenses. 

You might have heard horror stories about how uncomfortable colored lenses are to wear — Tyler Mane famously suffered temporary vision loss after wearing blacked-out contacts all day to play Sabretooth in X-Men (2000). But no need to worry! Colored contact lenses not made for the movies are just as comfortable as the ones you’d wear normally.  

Talk to The Experts

If you want to switch to contacts, or simply see how you look with a different eye color, contact the specialists at our Mesa and Chandler locations. We’ll make sure that your contacts fit comfortably and offer tips on how to keep your eyes happy and healthy while you wear them.