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Do I Need a Contact Lens Exam Before Getting Contacts?

Whether you usually wear glasses and are looking at contact lenses as a part or full-time alternative, or this is the first time that you need prescription lenses and you are going straight for contact lenses, you’ll need a contact lens exam before you can get started wearing them. The reason for this is that the prescription that is used for contacts is different from that which you’re given at a regular, comprehensive eye exam.


When you wear glasses, the prescription lenses sit a short distance in front of the eyes. However, contact lenses are placed directly on the surface of the eyes. A contact lens exam will reveal not only what prescription you need for your contact lenses, but also what type of contact lenses will best suit your eyes and your lifestyle.


Benefits of Contact Lenses


There are a variety of different reasons why many people choose to switch to contact lenses or to have them as another option alongside their prescription glasses. Some of the benefits of wearing contact lenses include:


  • A wider field of vision (since there are no glasses frames to contend with!)

  • Better access to sports that aren’t possible when wearing glasses (such as contact sports)

  • You don’t need to remember to take them with you

  • Daily disposable contact lenses don’t require cleaning

  • Contact lenses don’t require any maintenance

  • There is a variety to suit pretty much any patient and eyesight condition

  • It’s easy to adapt to wearing contact lenses


Getting a Contact Lens Exam


A contact lens exam is a very straightforward appointment that involves several different assessments. These include:


Corneal Curve Assessment


This is an evaluation to measure the curve of your cornea. It’s important since the curve of your cornea will affect which type of contact lenses will suit you best. The measurement is taken using either a handheld tool called a keratometer or using scanning technology, which takes a 3D image of the surface of your cornea. This will help your contact lens provider to check that you don’t have any corneal abnormalities that could mean that you need a type of specialty contact lens, such as if you suffer from corneal scarring or keratoconus.



Pupil/Iris Measurements


Your contact lens provider will also need to measure the distances between your iris and pupils to ensure that you select a contact lens that fits properly. This measurement can be taken using a handheld rule but can also be done using a piece of equipment called a slit lamp.


Tear Film Evaluation


Contact lenses float on a layer of tear film that coats the surface of the eyes. However, if you don’t have enough tear film, contact lenses can be harder to insert and remove and may feel uncomfortable on the surface of your eyes. A tear film evaluation involves placing a tiny piece of paper on the inside of the eyelids to see how quickly it moistens. If it takes too long to become moist, you may have a condition called dry eye syndrome. This can make wearing regular contact lenses more difficult, but you may still be a good candidate for specialty contact lenses.



Once all of the assessments have been completed, your contact lens provider will provide you with a pair of non-prescription, generic contact lenses to try. Provided that they fit properly and feel comfortable, your provider will be able to order them in the prescription you need.



If you are ready to schedule your contact lens exam, or if you have further questions, call Special Eye Care at our office in Camp Springs, Maryland. You can call (301) 298-3241 today to schedule an appointment.

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