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Bringing Vision into Focus

Contact Lenses

Contact Lens Exams

If you are in need of corrective lenses, contact lenses are a great alternative to wearing eyeglasses. A little known fact is that not all patients wear contact lenses as their primary source of vision correction. Each patient is unique, with some patients wearing contact lenses only on weekends, special occasions or just for sports. While others choose to wear them for work only and wear glasses at home. That is the benefit of contact lens wear, the flexibility it gives each individual patient and their choices about when and how they wear them.

contact lens caseIf you choose contact lens wear, it is of utmost importance that the lenses fit properly and comfortably and that you understand contact lens safety and hygiene. A contact lens exam will include both a comprehensive eye exam to check your overall eye health, your general vision prescription and also a contact lens consultation and measurement to determine the proper lens fit.

The contact lens industry is constantly developing new innovations to make contacts more comfortable, convenient and accessible. Consequently, one of the initial steps in a contact lens consultation is to discuss with your Optometrist some lifestyle and health concerns that could impact the type of contacts that might suit you best.

Options to consider are whether you would prefer daily disposables, biweekly or monthly disposable lenses, or soft versus rigid gas permeable (GP) lenses. If you have any particular eye conditions, such as astigmatism or dry eye syndrome, your Optometrist might have specific recommendations for the type or brand for your optimal comfort and vision needs.woman with contact lens

Now is the time to discuss with your Optometrist if you would like to consider colored contact lenses as well. If you are over 40 and experience problems seeing small print, you may need bifocals to see close objects, your eye doctor may recommend multifocal lenses or a combination of multifocal and monovision lenses to correct your unique vision needs. There are a wide variety of contact lens options for your specific eye needs and lifestyle, so be sure to speak up.

Contact Lens Fitting

One size does not fit all when it comes to contact lenses. Your eye doctor will need to take some measurements to properly fit your contact lenses. Contact lenses that do not fit properly could cause discomfort or blurry vision. They could even damage the eye if not used correctly. Here are some of the measurements your eye doctor will take for a contact lens fitting:

Multifocal Lenses

For individuals that prefer contact lenses to glasses, multifocal lenses are also available in contact lenses in both soft and Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) varieties. Multifocal contact lenses give you added freedom over glasses and they allow you to be able to view any direction – up, down and to the sides – with similar vision.

Monovision

man inserting contact lensAnother option for those who prefer contact lenses is monovision. Monovision splits your distance and near vision between your eyes, using your dominant eye for distance vision and your non-dominant eye for near vision. Typically you will use single vision lenses in each eye although sometimes the dominant eye will use a single vision lens while a multifocal lens will be used in the non-dominant eye for intermediate and near vision. When this is done it is called modified monovision. Your Optometrist will perform a test to determine which type of lens or lens combination is best suited for each eye and optimal vision.

Corneal Curvature

In order to assure that the fitting curve of the lens properly fits the curve of your eye, your Optometrist will measure the curvature of the cornea or front surface of the eye. The curvature is measured with an instrument called a keratometer to define the proper curve for your contact lenses. If you have astigmatism, the curvature of your cornea is not perfectly round and so a “toric” lens, which is designed specifically for an eye with astigmatism, would be fit to provide the best vision and fit.

Tear Film Evaluation

contact lens solutionOne of the most common problems affecting contact lens wear is dry eyes. If the lenses are not kept adequately hydrated and moist, they will become uncomfortable and your eyes will feel dry, irritated and itchy. Particularly if you have dry eye syndrome, your Optometrist will want to make sure that you have adequate tear film to keep the lenses moist and comfortable, otherwise, contact lenses may not be a suitable vision option.

Contact Lens Trial and Prescription

After deciding which pair of lenses could work best with your eyes, the Optometrist will have you try on a pair of lenses to confirm the fit and comfort before finalizing your prescription. If after the fitting, the lenses appear to be a good fit, your Optometrist will prepare your prescription for you. Your eye doctor will also provide care and hygiene instructions including how to insert and remove your lenses, how long to wear them and how to store them if relevant.

Follow-up

If you are experiencing discomfort or dryness in your eyes, you should visit your Optometrist as soon as possible. Your eye doctor may decide to try a different lens, a different contact lens disinfecting solution or to try an adjustment in your wearing schedule.