If this is your first time getting contact lenses, you may be a little apprehensive about your contact lens exam. Knowing what to expect can help put your mind at ease and keep you calm and relaxed during your appointment. Fortunately, contact lens exams are painless, non-invasive and absolutely nothing to worry about.
The process of a contact lens exam typically involves the following elements:
Contact lenses sit on the surface of the eyes, covering an area called the cornea. This is the clear domed area at the front of the eye. To ensure that your contact lenses will fit properly, be comfortable, and will be stable on your eye, it’s necessary for your eye doctor to assess the surface of the cornea and measure the curve. There are several ways of doing this. Sometimes an instrument called a keratometer is used, while in other cases, your eye doctor may recommend something called corneal topography. This is where a machine is used to scan the surface of your eye and produce a 3D map of your cornea, which they can evaluate to determine which type of contact lenses might be right for you. For example, some patients have an uneven curvature. This is called astigmatism and usually means that patients need a specific variety of contact lens called a toric lens.
As well as your cornea, your eye doctor will also need to measure your pupils to make sure that the contact lenses chosen will fit properly and be stable. Again, there are several ways of doing this, but most eye doctors will use a piece of equipment called a slit lamp – a special light that lets them look at the structures of the eye in more detail – or a handheld rule.
If your eyes don’t make enough natural tear film, you may find it difficult or impossible to wear contact lenses. Your eye doctor will need to perform an evaluation of your tear film in order to determine if you have sufficient tear film, and if not, if there is a type of specialty contact lens that could be suitable for you to wear. For example, scleral lenses, which vault over the surface of the cornea and instead touch down on the white part of the eye, are often found to be good for patients with limited tar film.
The information gained from your contact lens exam will allow your eye doctor to make a recommendation as to the right type of contact lenses for you. You’ll be given a generic, non-prescription variety to try to make sure that they fit well and feel comfortable. You’ll also get a chance to handle the lenses, putting them in and taking them out again. Once your eye doctor is satisfied that they are a good fit, they will order your lenses in your prescription.
For more information about the process of a contact lens exam, or to schedule an appointment, please contact our offices in Chicago, IL, or Orland Park, IL today.