COLOURED contact lenses started gaining popularity in Malaysia sometime in the late 2000s.

It wasn’t uncommon then for Malaysians to spot light brown or grey-blue eyes using cosmetic lenses. The more adventurous ones can be seen with bolder colours such as purple or even patterned lenses.

Over the years, demand for coloured contact lenses in Malaysia hasn’t diminished, says Maxvue Vision Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Selvam Kanniah. If anything, it is still a growing trend.

Selvam observes that Asians, in general, love coloured lenses.

He estimates that coloured lenses make up about 26% of the soft contact lenses market in South-East Asia.

A GfK report in 2013 noted that retail sales of beauty contact lenses in Malaysia raked in revenue of US$19.9mil, growing a staggering 31% from the previous year.

“As the country matures economically and financially, consumers here are becoming increasingly discerning of modern eye care options and at the same time, are more exposed to the latest fashion trends around the world, including the latest optical accessories such as coloured contact lenses and iris enhancers,” the report said.

However, Selvam notes that competition in the local market is stiff and price wars are frequent.

“There are a lot of local players in the market but they don’t sell their own products. And products can be found very cheap in places like night markets,” he says.

Maxvue has opted to maintain its premium stance for the local market instead of competing on a price level.

Having started off with a strong export market, Maxvue has been focusing more of its efforts on growing its presence in Malaysia in recent years.

No doubt, trying to capture the market will be a challenge. Selvam opines that there is a need to secure support of half of the over 1,000 optical shops in Malaysia in order to have a sizeable share.

“We believe we will capture more market share by 2018. We are looking into all the necessary things such as putting in a new team, systems and resources to handle local distribution. We are also investing in software and ensuring we have solid certifications,” says Selvam.

Maxvue’s coloured lenses are marketed under its ColourVUE brand, which includes the Glow and Crazy Lens series. Its products are a big hit during Halloween and with cosplay users.

Maxvue also supplies coloured lenses to the movie industry.