If you need prescription lenses to see clearly, you certainly aren’t alone. According to the Vision Council of America, as many as 75% of the U.S. adult population use some sort of vision correction. While the vast majority wear glasses, an increasing number of people are now turning to contact lenses, either to use exclusively or alongside glasses to give them the best of both options.
Contact lenses are a little more convenient than glasses for many people. You pop them in at the start of the day and leave them in place whilst you go about your usual activities. Unless there is a problem with your eye, you don’t need to take them out and you shouldn’t touch your eye. Contact lenses don’t detract from your appearance in any way, and people around you will never need to know that you wear prescription lenses. They also don’t interfere with your ability to wear sunglasses, participate in sports or other activities, and can’t easily be lost or broken.
If you haven’t worn contact lenses before, your first appointment will almost certainly be a little different than you are used to. This is because your eye doctor will be looking much more closely at the shape and health of your eyes in order to make sure that contact lenses are an appropriate solution for you. They will also need to determine which type of contacts will be best for you to wear. This appointment, called a contact lens fitting, usually takes place following your comprehensive eye exam.
A consultation forms an essential part of the process of a contact lens fitting. This is because your eye doctor will need to understand more about you, your health, and your lifestyle in order to make an accurate recommendation as to which contact lenses will best suit your needs. For example, you may be asked if you have any allergies, as these sometimes affect the eyes and can mean that you need specialist contact lenses. You may also be asked if you play any sports or have any other relevant hobbies. This information combined with the physical examination of your eyes will help your eye doctor to decide on the perfect lens type for you.
Unsurprisingly, you will also need to have the surface of your eyes measured. This is because no two patients are the same and the curve of the cornea, which is the part of the eye covered by the contact lens, can vary. The measuring of the surface of your eye will be entirely non-invasive so there will be no need for anesthetic, and it may be done either manually using handheld tools, or using advanced topography which is where a laser scans the surface of the eye in order to produce a 3D image of it. These measurements will help your eye doctor decide which size lenses will best suit you. They may also help confirm their decision about which type will be best since some corneal abnormalities necessitate that patients are given specialty contact lenses.
Contact lenses float on the surface of the eyes on a layer of the tear film. This means that patients must have adequate tear film in order for them to fit properly and comfortably. The amount of tear film you have will be assessed, usually using tiny pieces of paper that are placed on to your lower eyelids. If you don’t produce a fairly normal amount of tear film, you may also need specialty contact lenses.
Once your eye doctor has determined which type of lenses will likely suit you best, you will be given a generic pair to try. These won’t have your prescription but will allow your eye doctor to assess the way that they fit and to ensure that you can handle them and find them comfortable. In some cases, patients may have to try several types before they find the ones that are most suitable. Once the perfect lenses have been identified, your eye doctor can send away for your bespoke contact lenses, which will usually be ready to collect 5-10 days following your appointment.
If you have further questions about what is involved during a contact lens fitting, please speak to our experienced eye care specialists in Martin, TN who will be happy to assist you.