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Archived - Government adopts measures to make cosmetic contact lenses safer

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New Regulations enthusiastically supported by Vision Health Professionals

July 29, 2015 - Ottawa, ON - Health Canada

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, announced today that Health Canada is advancing regulations that will require the same medical-device safety standards for non-corrective or ‘cosmetic’ contact lenses as prescription or corrective contact lenses.

‘Cosmetic’ contact lenses (also called decorative lenses) are used to change the colour or appearance of the eyes and are typically sold by costume and cosmetic retailers. These types of lenses have been regulated as consumer products. However the risks of decorative lenses are identical to the risks of corrective lenses and adverse events causing harm and even permanent damage to the eyes are not uncommon.

As medical devices, cosmetic contact lenses will be subject to specific requirements for licensing, manufacturing, labeling, and instructions to improve their safety before they go on the market. The proposed changes to the Medical Device Regulations were published in Canada Gazette I on October 18, 2014 for consultation. Comments were overwhelming in support of the new regulations, particularly from vision care professional groups. The new regulations relating to non-corrective contact lenses will come into effect July 16, 2016.

Quick Facts

  • The risk of severe corneal infection related to contact lens wear for cosmetic purposes is 12.5 times higher than with corrective contact lenses.
  • Risks of adverse reactions to contact lenses are higher for smokers and people with certain health conditions, such as eye infections or dry eyes.
  • New Health Canada guidance will advise Canadians that the safety of cosmetic contact lenses depends on proper use and to seek advice from an eye care professional as to the proper use of these products.
  • These regulations build on the provisions of Private Members Bill C-313, which was introduced by Pat Davidson, Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton.


“Our Government is taking action to protect Canadians from potentially serious and permanent harm to their eyes. I am very pleased with the broad support from vision care professionals and the public for these new regulations.”
Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health
We’re delighted to see these new regulations are moving ahead. Health Canada’s landmark report, “Human Health Risk Assessment of Cosmetic Contact Lens” concluded that there is no difference between how cosmetic contact lenses and corrective contact lenses are inserted and interact with the eye and should be regulated the same.”
Dr. Allan Slomovic, MSc, MD, FRCS(C)
President, Canadian Ophthalmological Society

Related Products

Government advances measures to make cosmetic contact lenses safer – October 2014

Associated Links

Health Canada It’s Your Health on Contact Lens Safety

Canadian Ophthalmological Society statement on Non Corrective Contact Lenses

Canadian Association of Optometrists Position Statement on Cosmetic Contact Lenses


Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Health Canada
Media Relations
(613) 957-2983

Public Inquiries:
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1-866 225-0709

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