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Contact Lens Eye Exam and Fitting

Many people prefer contact lenses over eye glasses, because contacts are more convenient and provide more satisfying vision correction. Eye exams for contact lenses include the same elements as comprehensive eye exams, but during contact lens fittings your eye doctor will take a few extra steps to determine which contacts work best for your eyes.

First: Comprehensive Eye Exam

Every person who wears contacts is required to go through a comprehensive eye exam. This occurs before you are actually fitted for contacts, to establish if your eye health will enable you to wear contacts. Also during the comprehensive eye exam, the eye doctor will determine your prescription for eyeglasses. If everything looks good, the doctor will then begin your contact lens fitting and consultation.

Contact Lens Fitting

The first thing you should think about before deciding to get contact lenses is your lifestyle and the preferences you have when it comes to contact lenses. You should consider if you want contacts that change your eye color, or if you want contacts that will last a few weeks or only one day. There are even contacts that can be worn overnight, which is another factor that may play a role in the type of contacts you decide to purchase. The vast majority of people wear soft contact lenses, but the doctor will also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of wearing gas permeable lenses.

If you need bifocal lenses, your eye doctor will walk through a few different options with you. Multifocal lenses are becoming a more popular option, or your eye doctor may recommend wearing one contact lens for near vision, and a contact lens for seeing farther distances in the other eye.

Measuring for Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are made specifically to fit the unique shape of your eye. If the shape of the contact is even slightly too round or too flat, you could face discomfort or damage to your eyes. Your eye doctor will take various measurements of your eyes to choose the best contact for your eye shape.

1. Corneal Curvature

Eye doctors use a special tool to measure the surface curvature of the front of your eye (cornea). This measurement helps your eye doctor determine the correct diameter and curve for your contact lenses. Astigmatism (irregular shaping of the eye surface) may make it difficult to determine the best fit for contacts. Your eye doctor may recommend for you to wear a toric lense, which is designed specifically for people with astigmatism

2. Pupil and iris sizing

The size of your iris and pupil play a major role in determining the contact lens design that is best suited for you. Eye doctors may use a lighted instrument to measure the correct size of your iris and pupil, or they may use a ruler or template card.

3. Tear film evaluation

In order to successfully wear contacts, you must have a good tear duct film to keep your eyes moisturized. Your eye doctor uses a lighted slit lamp and liquid dye eye drops to analyze your eyes, or they may use a small strip of paper to see how well your eyes dampen the paper. If your eyes are small and dry, then contact lenses may not be the best option for you.

Getting Your Prescription

As soon as your eye doctor determines that contact lenses are a good option, they will write a contact lens prescription or you. The prescription will note the strength of the contacts, the curvature, the lens diameter, and the brand of the lens. Other specifications may be included if you have astigmatism or are getting contact lenses that change your eye color. As you wear contacts, you should remember to have an eye exam every year to ensure that your eyes are healthy enough to continue wearing your lenses.