Contact lenses are a great option above and beyond wearing prescription glasses. Depending on your needs based upon lifestyle, work, or other habits, some patients wear contact lenses only on weekends, special occasions, or just for sports. It is great to have flexibility and we are happy to accommodate your individual lifestyle!
If you decide to opt for contact lens wear, it is important that the proper lens is selected based on different parameters that your eye care professional will evaluate in the office during your visit. A contact lens exam will include a comprehensive eye examination to check your overall vision and eye health, determine your unique vision correction, and then a contact lens consultation/evaluation to determine the proper measurements to allow a successful contact lens fit.
What to expect during your contact lens consultation or evaluation?
As in most industries, the contact lens industry continues to innovate and improve technology to drive accessibility to new patient populations by engineering new contact lens devices and products to allow for improved safety, breathability, and more functional visual options for our patients. Your doctor is likely to ask your current comfort in your contact lenses. Since your most recent visit, there may be better or more customized contact lens options that may suit your needs even better.
What is your eye doctor evaluating during a contact lens evaluation?
Your eye care provider during a contact lens evaluation is checking many aspects of the front surface of the eye and how the contact interacts with the surface of the. Therefore, your eye care provider evaluates the following:
- Corneal Curvature: The corneal curvature is evaluated by a device called a keratometer. If the front surface of your eye is not spherical (perfectly round), your doctor might have to fit you with a contact with astigmatism (or a toric contact lens). If a cornea is determined to be more complex or curved, your eye care provider may request a more specialized tool called a topographer. This device maps the front surface of the eye more completely to determine abnormalities or significant eye diseases.
- Pupil or Iris Diameter: The pupil is the center part of the eye while the iris is the colored part of the eye. Your eye doctor may measure with the slit-lamp (biomicroscope) or manually with a small ruler. These measurements are important for gas permeable contact lenses or for instances where an opaque (solid colors contact) is needed for patients with corneal scarring). This will allow more continuity between the patient’s two eyes to improve cosmesis.
- Tear Film: The tear film is composed of three principal layers. Your eye doctor ensures that the tear film has adequate components and hydration for contact lenses to be comfortable. Occasionally, your eye doctor may evaluate the front tear film by using a dye called fluorescein to ensure the health is appropriate to reduce chance of contact discomfort, dryness, or infection.
- Palpebral Conjunctiva: The palpebral conjunctiva is the skin surface or structure on the inner part of the eyelid. It is like the windshield wiper component of the eye. Your eye doctor will evaluate to ensure no abnormalities exist from seasonal allergies or other findings that might cause discomfort for contact lens wearers.
Types of Common Contact Lens Evaluations
In treating most vision conditions, your eye doctor will use a soft contact lens. Soft contact lenses are made from hydrogel or silicone hydrogel materials, which allows for maximal comfort and breathability while wearing the lenses. The soft contact lens materials allow them to carry water to not dry out with all day wear. The frequency of wear ranges from daily, bi-weekly, monthly, or even quarterly. An evaluation allows your eye care professional to determine which contact lens will suit your lifestyle, modality of wear, and lifestyle.
IMPROVING YOUR DISTANCE VISION
- Spherical Lenses
- Spherical lenses correct the major curvature of the front surface of the eye. Your eye doctor will select the most accurate power to allow for clear, comfortable vision at distance for both eyes.
- Toric Lenses for Astigmatism
- Astigmatism is a refractive condition that causes blurry vision (or ghosting of an image) because the front surface of the eye is not entirely spherical or round. Instead, the eye has two separate curves. To correct this, your eye care provider must select a lens that has two separate powers, which must settle on the eye in a particular way. Contacts in this category are often “weighted” to allow for the appropriate fit or orientation on the eye. In some cases, the contact lens may rotate, which your eye doctor will evaluate to ensure the best possible vision outcome for clear, comfortable vision.
IMPROVING YOUR DISTANCE and NEAR VISION
- Multifocal/Bifocal to Treat Presbyopia (inability to see well at near)
- As we become wiser (yes – the aging process – rocking the grey hair, hopefully learning from past experiences and more), your eye care provider has solutions to improve your distance and near vision concerns ALL AT THE SAME TIME! Contact lenses have been engineered with varying powers of concentric circles to ameliorate computer and near distance challenges. Now, you can enjoy clear, comfortable vision while reading your next favorite novel, overcoming work-related projects while on the computer, or simply driving to the cabin to enjoy your weekend!
- Monovision to Treat Presbyopia (inability to see well at near)
- Some of our wiser patients are fit by determining the dominant and non-dominant eye. From there, your eye doctor determines the eye for distance correction and the non-dominant eye (typically) with a customized working distance most suitable to the patient’s needs. For example, a sales representative wants to be able to see the computer while at work. Your eye doctor will ask relevant questions regarding the approximate distance of the computer to be able to most closely accommodate clear vision at that distance in the non-dominant eye.
Types of Specialty or Hard-To-Fit Contact Lens Evaluations
On occasion, soft contact lenses may not be the most appropriate option or may not be the solution to allow for the best vision correction or your eye health. Hard-to-fit contact lenses come in many different materials, sizes, shapes, colors, and more for a variety of conditions. Some conditions treated with hard-to-fit contact lenses may be as follows:
- Pellucid Marginal Degeneration
- Post-LASIK or other refractive surgery complications
- Corneal Scarring (conditions such as: Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, cicatricial pemphigoid, keratitis, burn victims, and many others)
- Severe Dry Eyes
- High Astigmatism or Abnormal/Irregular Astigmatism
- Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis
Read about Specialty or Hard-To-Fit Contact Lens Options!
Commonly Asked Questions
What do I need to do if I am a new wearer?
- Contact lens trials must be ordered or selected based upon your prescription and eye specifications
- Complete a contact lens class in office with a trained staff member that often takes less than 45 minutes
- Learn how to insert and remove contact lenses safely
- Learn how to take care of your contact lenses
- Learn proper care on how to properly store and maintain good contact lens habits
- Learn the signs/symptoms of an eye infection
- Learn the initial wearing schedule (if applicable)
- Complete a follow-up with your eye care provider to ensure excellent vision with no eye health concerns as a result of your new contact lenses
What is the proper care for soft contact lenses?
- Multipurpose Solution is a care system that allows for cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting, and storage of your soft contact lenses. This tends to be the most common methodology for storing lenses; however, there are preservatives that can sometimes cause symptoms (redness, dryness, allergy response or others) secondary to sensitivities to the chemical compounds. Work with your eye care provider to select the most appropriate and follow the instructions on the designated products.
- Examples: Acuvue Revitalens, Bausch + Lomb Biotrue, Bausch + Lomb Renu Advanced Formula, Alcon Opti-Free Replenish, Alcon Opti-Free Puremoist
- Hydrogen Peroxide-based System is a care system that cleans, disinfects, and allows storage of contact lenses. This is commonly offered by your eye care provider if you have sensitivities to multipurpose solutions or develop an allergy to the ingredients in the solution. Special note to use the special container that is provided within the box and to follow the instructions very carefully per manufacturer guidelines.
- Examples: Clear Care, CooperVision Refine One Step
What to “do” and what “don’t do” while wearing soft contact lenses (not exhaustive list)?
- Always wash your hands and thoroughly dry your hands before touching your contact lenses
- Carefully and regularly maintain your contact lenses with approved proper care section for contact lenses and per your eye care provider’s instructions
- Store your contact lenses in the proper storage case and replace the case at least every three (3) months
- Clean the case after each use and keep it open and dry between cleanings
- Use fresh solution to clean and store your contact lenses. Never reuse old solution (you would not reuse your toothpaste)
- Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your eye care professional
- Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub
- Maintain regular visits to your eye doctor
- Do not use cream soaps – leave a film on your hands
- Do not use tap water to wash and store contact lenses
- Do not use homemade solutions or other storage saline solutions that are not approved by the FDA or recommended by your eye care provider
- Do not put contact lenses in your mouth or use saliva to rewet your contact lenses (HIGH amounts of bacteria present in your mouth and a source of a possible infection)
- Do not share lenses with others
- Do not sleep in contact lenses after being exposed to pools, lakes, hot tubs, or other sources that could have bacteria present
What are signs/symptoms of an eye infection and proper protocol?
- Red, painful eyes
- Watery eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurry vision or changing vision
- Eye discharge (yellow, green, or other)
- Action Steps
- If you suspect an eye infection, remove your contact lenses. It is important to seek medical attention from your eye care provider as soon as possible.
What are fees or costs associated for a contact lens evaluation?
- Evaluation for a New Contact Lens Wearer: $80-$110
- Evaluation for an Established Contact Lens Wearer: $55-$85
What are the costs involved with contact lens wear?
- The cost of an annual supply of contact lenses varies based upon wearing regimen (dailies, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual), modality of wear (distance only, astigmatism correction, multifocal/bifocal contact lenses), and vision/medical policy coverage.
- We have designated the most cost effective to least cost effective.
- Daily Replacement < Bi-Weekly Replacement/Monthly Replacement
- Spherical (uniform power) < Toric (corrects for astigmatism) < Multifocal/Bifocal (corrects for distance/near) < Multifocal/Bifocal with Astigmatism