Contact Lens Exam & Evaluation
"What if I want to wear contacts?"
You will still receive a comprehensive examination as outlined previously, with or without dilation, depending on the circumstance. The doctor will discuss your daily vision demands in detail and also your symptoms as they relate to the final prescription. Following the refraction to determine your base prescription, the doctor will evaluate your suitability to contact lenses. This involves measuring the iris diameter, assessing your corneal condition and health under the biomicroscope, taking curvature measurements to determine the base curve and diameter of contact that will be most appropriate. Your social and medical history will be reviewed as well. Some medications can make your eyes very dry, and create conditions unsuitable to lens wear. Your occupation may dictate what lens type would be most appropriate. For example, do you work with computers all day? Do you work with solvents or have environmental issues that may make contact lens wear hazardous? Do you fly in airplanes regularly? Do you require stable and highly acute vision? Do you want to use the contacts for exercise and recreation only? Do you wish to leave the contact lens in for extended periods of time? All of these situations may dictate a specific lens type and material and the doctor will make recommendations and review your options as they pertain to you and your lifestyle.
There are many different contact lens brands available and not all brands are suitable for all patients. Contact lenses are NOT like shoes. A size 8 in one brand is not a size 8 in another. Therefore the optometrist needs to see the lens on your eyes behind the microscope. How do they move when first inserted versus how do they move at the end of the day? Once removed, do the contact lenses leave physiologic changes to the cornea such as stippling, indentations, excessive blood vessel growth or minor scratches? Does the solution used with the lenses allow for the best performance of the lens material? Again, the doctor will review choices of solution and make recommendations based on the appearance of the cornea under the microscope. A replacement schedule for the lenses will also be determined. Some patients wearing a monthly lens may find that due to their own body chemistry the lens becomes coated with mucus or protein and may need to be replaced more frequently. Allergy sufferers may also need to be more diligent in their care and replacement routines.
In summary, the contact lens evaluation process includes the fitting of a trial pair of lenses, the dispensing of an appropriate solution for daily cleaning and rewetting, as well as future follow up care until the prescription is finalized. Once the doctor has determined that your lenses are fitting correctly, and no physiologic damage is resulting from lens wear, you will be given a written prescription that is valid for one year in the state of Georgia.
"What if I want to wear contacts just for cosmetics? I don't need a prescription?"
It is a common misconception that no power in the lenses does not require a fitting or an evaluation. This is not true. A contact lens is still a biomedical device and it's interaction on the cornea and with the tears still needs to be assessed to prevent corneal damage. An ill fitting lens, while for cosmetic purposes only, will still create long term corneal changes and possible blindness if fit incorrectly. This is very important! Contact lenses are illegally sold in beauty salons and on the internet. Colored lenses or Halloween lenses require a written prescription. This is to protect you and your vision. Please beware of any lens obtained from any source outside of a licensed optical. Corneal scarring and infection are common among these "harmless" cosmetic lenses.