A contact lens exam at ECA is similar to a standard eye exam, except there are a few additional steps to ensure that your contact lenses fit properly and give you proper vision correction. Below are the steps of a contact lens exam with the differences highlighted between a standard exam and a contact lens exam.
1. Standard Eye Exam
A proper contact fitting and eye exam begins with a thorough eye exam. This includes gathering and reviewing your health history, conducting standard eye exam tests, including retinoscopy, refraction test, cover test and more. See our page on standard eye exams for details. If you currently wear contact lenses, the doctor will examine your eyes to see if contact lens use has changed the surface of your eye in any way. After completing the eye exam, the doctor will proceed to fitting you with appropriate contacts.
2. Contact Lens Preferences
At this point, the doctor will discuss your contact lens preferences and expectations. This may include discussions about contacts for enhancing or changing eye color, daily disposable lenses, or overnight contacts. If you currently wear contacts, the doctor will also ask about comfort or vision issues, such as dry eyes, that can be addressed with specific types of contacts. If you are over 40, the doctor will likely discuss age related changes to your vision, such as presbyopia, and how these can be addressed with contact lenses.
3. Eye Surface Measurements
To ensure a proper fitting for your contacts, the doctor will take precise measurements of your eyes. This includes measuring the surface and curvature of your eye, as well as the size of your pupil and iris. A proper fit is important for both comfort and vision correction. The doctor will use this information to compensate for the differences between contact lenses and eyeglass lenses.
4. Tear Film Evaluation
If you suffer from dry eyes, the doctor may choose to perform a tear film evaluation to measure the amount of tear film on the surface of your eye. This will help the doctor determine if you produce a sufficient tear film to comfortably support contact lenses. If your tear film is insufficient or you suffer from chronic dry eyes, it may be the case that contact lenses are not a good option for you. However, some of the newer contact lenses that emphasize delivering moisture to the surface of the eye may be an option. If the doctor finds that there is a tear film issue, he or she will discuss your options with you.
5. Contact Lens Fitting
The final step of the process is to fit you with a trial pair of contact lenses. The doctor will examine the lenses in your eyes to ensure a good fit — observing the alignment and movement of the lenses on the surface of your eye. Assuming a good fit, the doctor will conduct several tests to ensure the prescription is correct. Once a good fit is achieved and the prescription is optimal, the doctor will typically have you wear the trial lenses for a week and schedule a short follow-up exam to confirm that the lenses are working well for you. At that point, you can order a supply of contact lenses.
Why Are Contact Follow-ups Important?
Contact lenses sit on the surface of your eyes and are more complicated to fit than a pair of glasses. So, it is important to conduct a follow-up exam to make sure the lenses are comfortable, providing appropriate vision correction, and are not causing abrasions or other damage to the eye.