For many people, contact lenses provide greater convenience and more satisfying vision correction than eyeglasses.
Here’s what’s involved in a diagnostic contact lens exam for a patient trying contact lenses on for the first time.
A medical eye examination comes first
Before contact lenses are prescribed, a medical eye examination is performed. During this examination, your doctor determines if your eyes are healthy enough to begin wearing contact lenses. If your eyes are healthy enough, the next step is a diagnostic contact lens examination.
Diagnostic contact lens examination
Prescribing contact lenses involves a consideration of your lifestyle and your preferences regarding contact lenses. For example, you might want to change your eye color with tinted contact lenses. Other patients are more interested in convenient options such as daily disposables or overnight wear. Although most patients choose soft contact lenses, the advantages and disadvantages of rigid gas permeable contact lenses will be discussed.
If you are over age 40 and need bifocals, modern multifocal and bifocal contact lenses are available.
Corneal curvature vs. contact lens curvature
Just as one shoe size doesn’t fit all feet, one contact lens curvature doesn’t fit all corneas. If the curvature of a contact lens is too flat or too steep for your cornea’s shape, you may experience discomfort or even damage to your eye. Measurements will be taken to determine the best contact lens curvature, size and design for your eyes.
Diagnostic contact lenses
In most cases, diagnostic contact lenses will be used to help determine the prescription. Lenses will be placed on your eye and your doctor will use a biomicroscope 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.
For patients new to contact lenses, good comfort is usually achieved in about 15 minutes. When your diagnostic lenses provide good comfort and clear vision, you will be given instructions on how to care for your lenses and how long to wear them. You will also receive training on how to handle, apply and remove contact lenses.
Follow-up examinations to maintain good eye health
Your contact lens treatment program might involve a number of follow-up examinations so your doctor can confirm the lenses are maintaining good eye health. Often, your doctor will be able to see signs of contact lens-related complications before you are aware of a problem. If abnormal signs are present during your follow-up examinations, your doctor may modify the initial contact lens prescription by trying a different lens or lens material, using a different lens care method, or adjusting your contact lens wearing time.
Your contact lens prescription
After confirming that a particular contact lens provides good comfort and vision, your doctor will then be able to write a final contact lens prescription for you. This prescription will designate the contact lens power, the curvature of the lens, the lens diameter, and the lens name and manufacturer.
Regular contact lens examinations
Regardless of how often or how long you wear your contact lenses, your eyes should be examined on a regular basis to make sure your that you are not developing any contact lens-induced complications.