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Contact Lens Exam: What To Expect

Contact Lens Exam: What To Expect


Eye Doctor helping patient with his contact lens exam

Contact lenses are very popular among men and women who want to enjoy clear vision without the hassles of glasses. In fact, the CDC reports about 30 million people in the U.S. - about 10 percent of the entire population - wear contact lenses. Before you can wear contacts, you need to have a special eye exam to make sure lenses are a good choice for you and to be certain your lenses fit properly. For some people, the cost of the contact lens exam is included in their insurance coverage, but for others, the exam must be paid for out of pocket. In the Houston area, the average cost of a contact lens exam is about $150, with some providers charging as much as $455 for the exam. If you’re considering contact lenses, here’s what you should know about the exam and what it entails.

What is a contact lens exam? And how is it different from my regular eye exams?

A regular eye exam is really important for assessing your vision and for looking for signs of diseases or other problems that can affect your vision and your overall health. And during a comprehensive eye exam - the kind of exam you should be having every one to three years, depending on your age and risk factors - your eye doctor will perform a series of assessments to evaluate your overall eye health in addition to looking for vision problems. Comprehensive eye exams use special dilating eye drops to widen your pupil so it’s easier to see inside your eye where many disease symptoms first begin.

By comparison, a contact lens exam is designed specifically for people who wear or want to wear contact lenses. During this exam, your eye doctor will assess your vision just like during a comprehensive eye exam determining the optimal prescription for providing you with clear, crisp vision. Once those assessments are complete, the doctor will perform additional exams to evaluate your corneas, as well as a contact lens fitting to ensure your new lenses will be comfortable and provide you with great vision.

What to Expect During Your Contact Lens Evaluation

Corneal measurements are performed using a special instrument called a keratometer. The keratometer measures the way light is reflected from your eyes to obtain very precise measurements of the corneal curvature. Since your lenses will rest on your eye’s surface, these measurements are critical for ensuring your lenses fit properly. Additional measurements may be taken using a device called a corneal topographer. These devices create a map of your entire cornea that can be especially useful for people with astigmatism or other unusual cornea shapes. If your corneas have an unusual shape, you may need special lenses designed to accommodate those issues. The doctor will also use a slit lamp, named for the slit of light the device emits. The slit lamp is useful for evaluating the health of your cornea as well as its thickness.

Next, your eye doctor will measure your pupils and your rises to ensure the lenses look “right” when they’re being worn. Measurements are made using a special card that’s held next to your eyes or with a computer device that scans your pupils and irises to calculate their sizes. 

Finally, the eye doctor will evaluate your tear film using a special paper strip, looking at the quality of your tears as well as how well your eyes produce and distribute tears. Dry eyes can make contact lens wear uncomfortable and they can also increase your risk of developing scratches or other corneal damage, so you may need to have your dry eyes corrected before receiving your lenses. The good news is, just as there are special lenses for astigmatism, there are also contact lenses that can be worn by people who are prone to dry eyes. Your eye doctor will discuss those options with you during your contact lens evaluation.

Try Before You Buy: Trial Lenses

At the completion of your exam, your eye doctor will order a trial set of contact lenses. The trial set gives you a chance to wear the lenses for a brief period of time - usually one or two weeks - to ensure they fit comfortably and provide good vision correction. When your trial lenses arrive, you'll come in for a contact lens fitting. During this visit, you'll try on the lenses in the office and receive care and hygiene instructions. Then you'll take the lenses home and wear them for the prescribed amount of time. If they feel comfortable and your vision is clear, we can order a larger supply of lenses for you to wear. Our office is a leading provider of contact lenses in the Houston area, and we offer all the major brands and types of lenses so you can find the lens that works best for you.

Contact Lenses in Houston and Katy, TX

Contact lenses can dramatically change the way you feel about your vision and yourself. If you’ve been thinking about contact lenses and wondering if they’re right for you, meeting with your eye doctor is the next step. At Eye Site, we help patients in and around Houston and Katy, TX, learn more about contact lenses so they can feel confident making the switch to glasses-free vision. To schedule your contact lens evaluation and fitting, call Eye Site’s Houston location at 713-984-9144 or our Katy office at 281-644-2010 today.


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