My name is Donovan Baldwin, and, though retired now, for many years, I was an ABO certified optician. During those years, I worked for several different vision care enterprises, ranging from an Optometrist in Austin, to a major retailer, where I worked in both Atlanta and Dallas.
While my main area of expertise was eyeglasses, I noticed that many people were a little leery of getting contact lenses because they were not sure what all was involved. Well, contact lenses may seem to be pretty simple, but there are a lot of different things you might want to know, so, in this article, I am going to explain what to expect in a basic contact lens examination.
One of the first points of confusion for many people is the belief that, once you have had a basic vision exam and the optometrist or the opthamalogist has written a prescription, that you are set to get contacts if you want.
The problem is that the basic examination for eyeglasses does not cover some things that need to evaluated and measured if you are going to get contact lenses. Also, the eyeglass prescription may need to be modified to some extent if you are going to get contacts.
Also, with glasses, once you have your prescription you can easily get many types of lenses and add-ons.
This is not so easy with contact lenses.
Since they are actually IN your eye, contact lenses call for a bit more scrutiny, and, perhaps, testing, before you, and your eye care provider decide what is best for you.
All that having been said, let's go through the basic contact lens exam.
As you can imagine, before you can get a pair of contact lenses, you need to have your eyes examined, just like with eyeglasses. However there will be additional requirements with contact lenses, and you will need to be fitted by an optometrist in addition to getting your basic prescription.
Fittings for contact lenses will normally take longer than the standard eye exam. Since some of the issues are different, you should let your optometrist know up front if you are interested in getting contacts.
The first step of the eye exam itself, will be an examination of the general health of your eyes. You might not see the doctor right away, as many of the tests are pretty basic and are done by machines or optical assistants. I used to do some of these myself.
Once the basic testing is done and you see your eye care provider, he or she will want to understand why you want contacts, if you have any known problems with your eyes, and what you expect to get from your visit.
It's not just when you go for a contact lens exam that you need to cover these points. They that need to be covered any time you get an eye exam. There are many options the doctor and staff can help you with whether you want a contact lenses or a simple pair of reading glasses.
At this point your contact fitting and exam will be based on the information that you have provided.
During the contact lens exam itselr, you’ll experience several tests which will let the optometrist know the general health of your eyes, and some other health issues as well, and, more specifically, the facts about your vision.
Once the exam is finished, and your optometrist has the necessary information, you will be a given the prescription to get your contact lenses.
You should be aware that, since, as I pointed out above, contact lenses actually are in, or on, the eye, a contact lens prescription is different from an eyeglass prescription. While you might be able to talk your way into a pair of glasses at some places, or even pick up reading glasses off the rack at Walmar, most places won’t sell you contact lenses without a prescription...and, like medications, most of the time prescriptions will have to be renewed periodically.
For fitting contact lenses, your eye care provider will measure the curvature of your eyes along with other factors that will affect how your lenses will fit in your eyes. Other factors will come into play as well. For example, some people are more prone to dryness in their eyes than others. This would mean that the contacts you are prescribed shouldn’t aggravate the dryness.
Another issue is the physcial condition of your eyes themselves. In order for your optician to give you a prescription for contact lenses, your cornea will need to be free of any type of problems that can prevent you from wearing them.
By the way, just because you can use contact lenses this year doesn't mean that this will always be so. Just like all the other parts of our bodies, our eyes change, and the day may come when you cannot wear contacts any more. I've seen it happen.
While you are still getting adapted to contact lenses, your optician will probably give you a trial pair of contact lenses to try out, and then check them for fit once they have settled in your eyes. Sometimes, you may have to try out several different pairs of contact lenses before you find the perfect fit and style of lens and actually buy contact lenses for yourself. The lens you choose should give you good vision, fit comfortably, and not do any damage to the cornea.
It’s important that your contact lenses not be torn, scratched, or damaged in any way.
Before you insert a contact lense, you should always inspect it to make sure that there are no defects. Your optician will show you how to do this inspection before you put them in your eyes. In fact, the optical assistants will do this starting with your trial pairs. The optician or assistants will need to verify that your test contacts meet your standards and the requirements for your eyes, according to what the optician recommends before you start laying out cash for your prefferable brand and style.
As a part of your fitting exam, your eye doctor or staff will also go over information about brands of contacts you should and shouldn’t use. When you try out your test contacts you’ll learn to use certain types of contact lens solution as well, to see if affects your eyes. Any particular solution may work well for some people, while it may cause irritation for others. Normally, your optometrist will try you out with one of the latest types and brands of contacts, to see whether or not they work for you.
Once you have been examined and fitted for contacts, and found the perfect pair, you should still make sure that you always make your follow up visits. Your first follow up with the doctor will be in just a few weeks, after which your optician will check your eyes and contacts again, to make sure that everything is still going good. After that, you should always still show up for any scheduled follow ups in order to make sure that your contacts are working good, and that your eyes are still in good health.
The Contact Lens Exam
Page Updated 8:36 AM Saturday 11/28/2015