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Contact Lens Exams-Why are they important?

If you have ever wondered what a contact lens exam entails, this article is for you. At your annual eye exam, your optometrist assesses the comprehensive health of your eyes and your visual system. Updates are made to your glasses prescription after your doctor performs a refraction and considers all the data collected during your exam including your eye alignment, how your focusing system functions, how you use your eyes, and other data.

A routine exam won’t provide some of the additional measurements and testing that are required to determine if your eyes are suitable for contacts and to generate a proper prescription. Your contact lens prescription is typically different from your glasses prescription. Many factors are considered in obtaining a proper contact lens prescription, including:

  • The health of the front of your eyes

  • The curvature of your cornea

  • The size of your cornea

  • How the contact lens aligns on your cornea

  • If the contact lens has adequate movement (not too tight/loose)

  • Tear film and dry eye assessment

  • How the contact lens interacts with your tear film

  • The type of visual correction you need

  • Your lifestyle and how you plan to use your lenses

  • Any special visual needs you may have

Your optometrist assesses multiple factors to determine the best lens for you before a contact lens even touches your eyes. To dive into a few more details

of some of the parameters listed above, your doctor assesses iris diameter, corneal curvature, ocular surface health, occupational environments, reviews medications and health conditions that may cause ocular surface conditions, and carefully considers your personal visual needs. All of these factors play a role in determining the most appropriate lens and solution type that best fit your lifestyle and eye anatomy.

Contact lenses are not a one-size-fits-all item. They are FDA-regulated medical devices which have the potential to cause serious damage if not prescribed properly. Not all brands are suitable for all patients. In addition, there is a vast size and curvature discrepancy across brands. To illustrate, consider the situation where a size 8 pair of jeans in one brand is not close to the same size 8 in another brand. The same is true of contact lenses. This is why it is imperative that your doctor assesses the actual lens you are prescribed as it interacts with your eye in the biomicroscope. Cosmetic contact lenses are no exception.

Follow up visits are important to assess how the lens interacts with your eye and tear film after an extended period of time to ensure a safe and comfortable fit with no resulting long term damage to the ocular surface. Yearly evaluations are required to keep the prescription tailored to your current visual needs, to assess for the tendency for protein and lipid buildup on your lenses, and to assess for possible long term complications on a microscopic level such as oxygen deprivation, new blood vessel growth, and corneal damage. Problems often present long before you notice any symptoms, and it is important to catch contact lens-related problems early for the best outcome.

During your evaluation, the doctor also make sure you’re in the most up-to-date technology. Contact lens wear is continually becoming more comfortable and safe as lens materials and features improve. There are other factors that go into prescribing an appropriate lens, but I won’t bore you with every little detail.

Insight eye Clinic never cuts corners when it comes to your eye health. Rest assured that all these factors will be considered in your contact lens examination. We look forward to SEEing you soon :)


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