Contact Lens Exams
Eye Exams for Contact Lenses
Contact lenses offer a convenient alternative to wearing eyeglasses. What many people don’t realize is that not all contact lens wearers rely on them as their primary form of vision correction. Each individual has different needs, with some using contact lenses only on specific occasions like weekends, special events, or sports. This flexibility is one of the advantages of contact lenses, as it can be tailored to suit each person’s lifestyle.
If you choose to wear contact lenses, it is crucial to ensure that they fit properly and provide comfort. Understanding contact lens safety and hygiene is also essential. A contact lens examination includes a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your overall eye health and determine your general vision prescription, and a consultation to measure and assess the proper fit of the contact lenses.
The Significance of a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Regardless of whether you have existing vision issues, regular eye check-ups are important to maintain healthy eyes and detect any potential eye conditions. A comprehensive eye exam not only assesses the general health of your eyes but also evaluates the quality of your vision. While the eye doctor will determine your eyeglass prescription during this exam, it is important to note that this prescription alone is not sufficient for contact lenses. The doctor will also check for any eye health issues that could affect the comfort and success of contact lens wear.
Assisting Hard-to-Fit Contact Lens Patients
Even if you have been told in the past that you cannot wear contact lenses, there may still be options available for you. Specialty contacts are designed for patients with conditions such as dry eyes or severe astigmatism, providing solutions for those who were previously unable to wear contact lenses.
The Contact Lens Consultation
The contact lens industry constantly develops new innovations to enhance the comfort, convenience, and accessibility of contact lenses. Therefore, an essential part of the contact lens consultation involves discussing your lifestyle and health considerations with your eye doctor, as these factors can impact the most suitable type of contacts for you.
During the consultation, you will consider options such as daily disposables or monthly disposable lenses, as well as choosing between soft and rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses. If you have specific eye conditions like astigmatism or dry eye syndrome, your eye doctor may recommend particular types or brands of lenses that provide optimal comfort and meet your vision needs.
If you are interested in colored contact lenses, now is the time to discuss it with your eye doctor. Additionally, if you are over 40 and struggle with seeing small print and are requiring bifocals for near vision, your eye doctor may suggest multifocal lenses or a combination of multifocal and monovision lenses to address your unique vision requirements.
Contact Lens Fitting Process
When it comes to contact lenses, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t apply. Your eye doctor will conduct various measurements to ensure the proper fit of your contact lenses. Ill-fitting lenses can lead to discomfort, blurry vision, or potential eye damage.
Here are some of the measurements and evaluations your eye doctor will perform during a contact lens fitting:
- Corneal Curvature: To ensure the contact lens curvature matches the curve of your eye, your doctor will measure the curvature of the cornea, the front surface of the eye. This is done using a keratometer, which determines the appropriate curve for your lenses. If you have astigmatism, meaning your cornea is not perfectly round, your doctor may prescribe a “toric” lens designed specifically for astigmatism to provide optimal vision and fit. In some cases, a more detailed mapping of the corneal surface called corneal topography may be performed.
- Pupil or Iris Size: Your eye doctor may measure the size of your pupil or iris (colored area of your eye) using a biomicroscope, slit lamp, ruler, or card. This measurement is crucial, especially if you are considering specialized lenses like Gas Permeable (GP) contacts.
- Tear Film Evaluation: Dry eyes are a common issue for contact lens wearers. Ensuring proper hydration and moisture is essential to prevent discomfort and dryness. If you have dry eye syndrome, your doctor will assess your tear film’s adequacy to maintain lens moisture and comfort. This evaluation can involve placing a liquid dye on your eye and examining your tears with a slit lamp or using a special strip of paper to measure tear production. If your tear film is weak, your eye doctor may recommend specific types of lenses that are more effective in maintaining moisture.
- Contact Lens Trial and Prescription: Once the most suitable lenses are determined, your eye doctor may have you try on a pair to ensure proper fit and comfort before finalizing and ordering your lenses. The lenses will be inserted and left in your eyes for 15-20 minutes. The doctor will then assess the fit, movement, and tearing in your eyes. If the lenses are deemed a good fit, your eye doctor will proceed with ordering them. You will also receive instructions on lens care, including insertion, removal, recommended wear time, and storage if applicable.
By following this comprehensive fitting process, your eye doctor ensures that you receive contact lenses that fit well, provide clear vision, and maintain optimal eye health and comfort.
After receiving your contact lenses, it’s important to schedule a follow-up appointment with your eye doctor. This allows them to ensure that the lenses are fitting properly and that your eyes are adjusting well to them. If you experience any discomfort or dryness in your eyes, it’s recommended to visit your eye doctor as soon as possible. They may suggest trying a different lens, using a different contact lens disinfecting solution, or adjusting your wearing schedule to improve your comfort.
Conditions like astigmatism, presbyopia, keratoconus, and dry eyes should not deter you from considering contact lens wear. While these challenges may require additional time and patience, there are solutions available to help you find comfortable and effective contact lenses.