British researchers have reached a resounding "yes" answer after sending a busload full of young adults -- who all wore either contacts or glasses -- out on the town on a mission to attract the opposite sex.
June McNicholas, a health psychologist from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, and her colleagues took a group of nearly 40 young adults out on the town for a night. She split the group into three smaller groups: One was asked to trade their glasses for contacts; the second swapped contacts for glasses; and the third wore whatever form of eyesight correction they normally wore.
The researchers asked the young adults -- all between 18 and 26 years old -- to try to attract a member of the opposite sex that they found attractive.
Questionnaires about self-confidence and attractiveness were given to the study volunteers two weeks before their night on the town, that night, and shortly after their nightclub experience.
Three-quarters of those asked to switch from contacts to glasses reported feeling less confident, and 80 percent said they felt less able to attract a mate. By comparison, 85 percent of those who traded in their glasses for contacts said they had more self-confidence and half of them felt they were more attractive to the opposite sex, McNicholas says. Contact lens wearers were four times more likely to report kissing on that night than their glasses-wearing counterparts.
Even in the group who didn't change their normal eyewear, McNicholas says those who wore glasses felt less confident overall when compared to contact lens wearers.
Funding for the study was provided by Novartis, parent company of CIBA, a large contact lens manufacturer. Results of the study have not yet been scheduled to be published, reports McNicholas.
If you wear glasses, that's fine, too, assures Dr. Jeffrey Weaver, a spokesman for the American Optometric Association. He says it's still just a matter of personal preference.
"Some people prefer spectacles, while others prefer contact lenses. And some people are attracted to people who wear spectacles," he says.
Weaver says that while some people find glasses unattractive, others wear glasses without needing them because they feel glasses make them look more intelligent or sophisticated.
McNicholas says this was one of the reasons she undertook the study. "The focus of this experiment was on younger people because of the rise in designer frames, celebrities wearing glasses, and even the availability of glasses with plain lenses to be worn as a fashion accessory. These things posed the question of whether it's now seen to be cool to wear glasses and that the days of 'men seldom make passes at girls wearing glasses' were over. Clearly they're not," she adds.
Although more celebrities are wearing frames, Hollywood still tends to have geeks wear glasses. Two recent hits about ugly ducklings being turned into swans are an example: In "The Princess Diaries" and the current smash "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," getting rid of the glasses was part of the transformation.
If you feel self-conscious wearing glasses, talk to your eye doctor about contacts. There are a lot of options available. If you've decided to keep your glasses, but want to look better in them, Weaver suggests talking with your eye doctor about ways to minimize their effect on your looks. Thinner (though more expensive) lenses with non-reflective coating let people looking at you see more of your face, rather than be distracted by your glasses, Weaver says.
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