If you currently wear contact lenses, thinking about trying contact lenses, or have not been satisfied with contact lenses in the past, the advancements in contact lens materials and designs have allowed almost anyone to wear contact lenses more comfortably and with better vision. Whether it is time to upgrade your current contact lenses into this new technology, try contacts for the first time, or give them another try, now is the best time!
First, a Comprehensive Eye Exam
Before being evaluated for contact lenses, a comprehensive eye exam needs to be performed. During this exam our eye doctor will determine your prescription for corrective lenses. This is the same type of presciption you would receive for eyeglasses. Our eye doctor will then evaluate your overall ocular health to identify any potential eye health problems or issues that may interfere with successful contact lens wear.
After your comprehensive eye exam and if our eye doctor determines your are a good candidate for contact lenses, the next step is a contact lens consultation and fitting.
Consultation to Explore Contact Lens Options
With the vast number of contact lens options available today, a consultation with our eye doctor to discuss your lifestyle and goals for wearing contact lenses will help determine the most successful options for you. A fun option with contact lenses is the opportunity to change your eye color. There are a large array of colored contact lenses that fit into almost any lifestyle. Whether you are looking to replace your contact lenses daily or wear them overnight, the recent advancements in contact lenses are allowing a great alternative to wearing eyeglasses. With most people choosing soft contact lenses because of their comfort and convenience, rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses may also be an option.
“I can’t wear contact lenses because I need bifocals”. No need to worry. Multifocal contact lenses are proven to provide great vision at all distances without the need for eyeglasses. Along with multifocal contact lenses, monovision may be an option. Monovision is a technique that allows one contact lens to correct the distance vision and the other contact lens to correct the near vision. All the details of contact lenses will be discussed during the consultation phase. Once you and our eye doctor have determined the best option of contact lenses for your lifestyle, the next step is to take precise measurements of your eyes to allow for a proper fit of the contact lenses.
Measurements for Contact Lenses
Given that our eyes come in all different sizes and shapes, one contact lens size does not fit all eyes. If the curvature of a contact lens is too flat or too steep for your eye’s shape, you may experience discomfort or even cause damage to your eye. Our eye doctor will perform the proper measurements to determine the best contact lens size and design for your eyes. These measurements include:
Corneal curvature: Our eye doctor uses an instrument called a keratometer to measure the curvature of the cornea. The cornea is the eye’s clear front surface. This measurement assists our eye doctor in selecting the best curvature and diameter for your contact lenses.
While gathering these measurements it is determined your eye’s have an irregular shape to them which is called astigmatism, then you may require a special lens design known as a “toric” contact lens. There are several brands of both soft and hard toric lenses, which are available in disposable, multifocal, extended wear and colored contact lenses.
A detailed mapping, or corneal topography, of the surface of your cornea will also be performed. Corneal topography provides extremely precise details about surface characteristics of your cornea. The corneal topography creates a surface “map” of your eye demonstrating different contours which are then represented by varying colors.
Pupil and iris size: The size of your pupil and iris, the colored part of the eye, can play an important role in determining the best contact lens design for you and especially if you are interested in rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lenses. These measurements are taken with an instrument called a biomicroscope or simply with a hand-held ruler or template card.
Tear film evaluation: An adequate tear film is not only required to maintain proper health of the eye, but also to keep the lenses sufficiently hydrated. To fully evaluate the tear film our eye doctor will place a tiny drop of liquid dye on your eye and use a biomicroscope, also called a slit lamp, to observe the tear film. Our eye doctor may also choose to use a tiny strip of thread placed on your lower eyelid to determine how well your tears are being produced. If it is concluded that you have dry eyes, some contact lenses may not work well for you. If you are able to produce some tears, then there are certain contact lens materials that may allow you to wear contact lenses comfortably.
With all the proper measurements taken, trial contact lenses are placed on the eye.
Fitting of Contact Lenses
Trial contact lenses are placed on the eye to confirm that the best options in type and design are correct for your eyes. After the contact lenses have had enought time to settle on your eye and any initial tearing has stopped, then our eye doctor will use the slit lamp to evaluate the position and movement of the lenses as you blink and look in different directions. You will also be asked how the lenses feel.
If the vision, comfort, and fit are all doing well, then you will be given instructions on how to care for your lenses and how long to wear them. In addition, you will be shown and taught how to handle, apply, and remove your new contact lenses. A contact lens follow-up exam will then be scheduled.
Contact Lens Follow-Up Exams
A contact lens follow-up examination is needed to confirm the lenses you chose are fitting your eyes properly and that your eyes are able to tolerate contact lens wear. A tiny drop of liquid dye may be used to see if the lenses are causing damage to your cornea or making your eyes become too dry.
Contact lens follow-up examinations play a crucial role in fully evaluating your eyes for contact lenses. On the rare occasion that contact lenses are causing an issue, your follow-up examination will allow our eye doctor to detect any early signs that may preclude an issue. If such warning signs are evident during your follow-up visit, several things may be recommended to alleviate any issues such as trying a different lens or lens material, using a different lens care method, or by simply adjusting your contact lens wearing time. After confirming the fitting of the trial contact lenses is successful, a contact lens presciption may be finalized.
Contact Lens Prescription
After concluding the contact lenses fit properly, our eye doctor will then be able to write a contact lens prescription for you. This prescription designates the contact lens power, the base curve, the lens diameter, and the lens name and manufacturer. In the case of RGP contact lenses, additional specifications may also be included in the contact lens prescription.
Your Next Contact Lens Exam
Even if you are having no problems with the contact lenses, you should schedule a contact lens examination once a year to confirm your eyes are continuing to tolerate contact lens wear and show no signs of ill effects from the contact lenses.