Getting a Contact Lens Exam

If you have decided that you wish to wear contact lenses to correct your vision, you’ll need to have a contact lens exam. This is a little different from a standard eye exam but is necessary to ensure that you get the right contact lenses for you. There are various different elements involved in a contact lens exam, but none are invasive or painful, so a contact lens exam really isn’t anything to worry about. Nevertheless, knowing what to expect before you arrive can be helpful to alleviate any concerns that you may have about your appointment. Here’s what you need to know about getting a contact lens exam.

Why is a Separate Contact Lens Exam Necessary?


A contact lens exam is usually performed after a comprehensive eye exam since it is only necessary for people who intend on getting corrective contact lenses, either instead of or as well as prescription glasses. Your comprehensive eye exam will be primarily used to assess the health and condition of your eyes and to determine if you are affected by any eye diseases like cataracts or diabetic retinopathy, as well as to see if you would benefit from prescription lenses. Meanwhile, your contact lens exam will purely focus on establishing what prescription you need for your contact lenses and which type will be most suited to your individual needs.


This is important since contact lenses sit on the surface of the eyes rather than a short distance in front of them. Their position affects both the prescription that is needed for you to be able to see clearly and the type of contact lenses that you will need. Without a proper contact lens exam and fitting, you could end up in contact lenses that don’t fit properly, are uncomfortable or even painful to wear, and that don’t correct your vision, as well as another pair, could.

What is Involved in a Contact Lens Exam?


When you have your contact lens exam, you’ll probably experience the following tests and assessments:


Corneal topography


Contact lenses sit on the surface of the eye, but since they don’t use any sort of adhesive, it’s important that they adhere closely to the curvature of your cornea. This helps to keep them secure and stable in your eyes. To make sure that your lenses fit properly, you’ll likely be given something called corneal topography. This is where a precision scanner takes a detailed, 3d photo of the surface of your eye which includes the cornea – the clear, domed lens covering the iris. This will show your contact lens provider the shape and curvature of your cornea, and this will help them to decide which style of contact lens will best suit you. In some areas, contact lens providers take this measurement manually with an instrument called a keratometer.


Pupil measurement


Your contact lens provider will also need to take a measurement of your pupil. This too will help them to establish which type and size of contact lens will best suit your needs. Pupil measurements can either be taken with an instrument called a slit lamp, which is a special light shined into your eye which enables your eye doctor to look at the structures in closer detail, or manually using a hand-held rule.


Tear film evaluation


Contact lenses don’t use adhesive to secure them to the surface of the eyes, but the layer of tear film that they float on helps to keep them in place. Not only does it keep them on the eye’s surface, but the tear film also enables the contact lenses to move simultaneously with your eyes when you look around. Some people have less natural tear film than others, but not having enough can make it harder and more uncomfortable to wear contact lenses. Your contact lens provider will assess your tear film by placing a tiny strip of paper onto your lower eyelashes to see how quickly it becomes moist. If you don’t have sufficient natural tear film, you may need a special type of contact lens that helps to trap moisture on the surface of the eyes.  



The information that your contact lens provider obtains from these assessments will enable them to make an accurate recommendation as to the best type of contact lenses for your eyes. You’ll be given a non-prescription pair to try and they will evaluate how well you can handle them and how well they fit. Once you are both happy, your new contact lenses can be ordered in your personal prescription and collected a few days later.


If you would like more information about getting a contact lens exam, or to schedule an appointment to have your eyes assessed by our expert team, please contact our office in Crestview, FL today at (850) 608-0003.