Lady Gaga's trendsetting fashion may have harmful consequences for fans who take the star's outrageous style too seriously. The New York Times reports that Gaga's bug-eyed look in her hugely popular "Bad Romance" video has inspired fans to seek out "circle lenses," contacts which make peepers seem larger by covering some of the whites of the eyes as well as the iris. The lenses are illegal in the U.S., however, fans have been obtaining the contacts online.
In addition to being illegal, the lenses apparently pose serious health risks and in a statement to CNN, the American Optometric Association has cautioned against donning circle lenses and other novelty contacts. "Consumers who purchase lenses without a prescription or without consultation from an eye doctor put themselves at risk of serious bacterial infection, or even significant damage to the eye's ability to function, with the potential for irreversible sight loss," the AOA warns. According to the Times, Gaga's wide-eyed look was likely a computer-generated effect.
CNN also reports that using non-prescription contacts such as circle lenses improperly is linked to a host of eye issues. Users can develop an allergic reaction, conjunctivitis, corneal abrasion and swelling, in addition to other vision and eye problems. The Times reports that while websites approved to sell contacts by the FDA must confirm prescriptions with customers' doctors, sites that sell circle lenses let buyers determine the strength and the color of their lenses.
The lenses, which give a doe-eyed appearance to people who wear them, are similar to the look characters have in Japanese anime films, and have long been popular in Japan and South Korea. In recent months the look has spread to the U.S.
"In the past year, there's been a sharp increase in interest here in the U.S.," Joyce Kim, a founder of Asian pop fan site Soompi.com, told the Times. "Once early adopters have adequately posted about it, discussed it and reviewed them, it's now available to everyone."
Gaga's wide eyes aren't the only eye-catching moments in "Bad Romance." The singer also sports glasses made of razor blades in the video as a nod to her no-nonsense pals. "I wanted to design a pair for some of the toughest chicks and some of my girlfriends — don't do this at home! — they used to keep razor blades in the side of their mouths," Gaga told MTV News last year.