If you are trying to reduce or eliminate your exposure to “forever chemicals,” you may be missing a critical exposure point – your eyes. A 2023 study found that many soft contact lenses contain PFAS, The Guardian reports.
You may have a hard time finding contact lenses without PFAS.
Testing in the study found 18 popular soft contact lenses in the U.S. had extremely high levels of organic fluorine, a marker for PFAS. However, we're here to guide you — keep reading to understand the research, as well as for our recommendations of PFAS-free contacts.
There aren’t many contact lenses without PFAS, study finds.
Scott Belcher of North Carolina State University was a scientific adviser on the research, published in May 2023.
“You could consider [contact lenses] almost pure PFAS,” Belcher told The Guardian.
PFAS are manufactured chemicals found in many consumer products such as cosmetics, drinking water, toilet paper, microwave popcorn bags, carpets, and more. They are commonly called “forever chemicals” because they break down very slowly. Excessive PFAS exposure has been linked to health issues such as cancer, obesity, decreased fertility, and high blood pressure.
The study found that different brands of contact lenses contain PFAS at varying levels.
For the research, the contact lens brands Acuvue, Alcon, and Coopervision were tested for organic fluorine in an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified lab, and some had higher levels of PFAS than others. The level of PFAS in the contacts ranged from 105 parts per million (ppm) to 20,700 ppm, as per The Guardian.
Belcher told Mamavation, a public health blog that commissioned the testing in partnership with Environmental Health News, the organic fluorine found in the contacts was due to fluoropolymer PFAS, a common form of soft plastic material used to make disposable soft contacts.
The highest levels of organic fluorine (20,000 ppm or more) were found in Alcon’s Air Optix (No Hydraglide) for Astigmatism, Air Optix Colors with Smartshield Technology, and Total30 Contact Lenses for Daily Wear.
Are any contact lenses PFAS-free?
Here are a few brands that claim to make PFAS-free contact lenses; however, none of these claims have been backed up by a third party.
Eiyan Lens contact lenses are PFAS-free.
Soon after the report about PFAS in contact lenses was published, the New York-based company Eiyan Lens announced in a press release that all its contact lenses were free from PFAS.
Although Eiyan contact lenses weren’t tested in the study, the company assures customers that its contact lenses, which are made of silicon hydrogel, are free of PFAS.
Visco Vision's contacts are supposedly PFAS-free.
Visco Vision is actually the company that manufactures contacts for Eiyan Lens.
Bausch + Lomb says its contact lenses are PFAS free.
In a statement to Vision Monday, a Bausch + Lomb spokesperson said none of the company’s soft contact lenses are “formulated with fluorinated polymers or PFAS.”
That said, Bausch + Lomb contact lenses were also not part of the study, and the company has not shared any evidence of PFAS testing on its lenses.
These contact lenses had the lowest levels of PFAS.
According to Mamavation, the best contact lenses had less than 200 ppm of organic fluorine. Those contacts are:
Acuvue Oasys with Hydraclear Plus for Astigmatism (105 ppm)
Acuvue Oasys with Hydraclear Plus with UV Blocking (113 ppm)
Alcon Dailies TOTAL 1 One-Day Contact Lenses Water Gradient for Astigmatism (106 ppm)
Alcon AIR OPTIX plus HydraGlyde with Smartshield Technology (119 ppm)
Alcon Air OPTIX plus HydraGlyde for Astigmatism (173 ppm)
Alcon Dailies MULTIFOCAL TOTAL 1 One-Day Contact Lenses Water Gradient (183 ppm).