If you typically wear eyeglasses and have recently decided to try contact lenses for the first time, then this is likely a very exciting time for you. However, you may wonder what to expect when you obtain your first contact lens eye exam.
Read on to learn what to expect during your first contact lens eye exam and some tips that can help you maintain good eye health while wearing contacts.
Extra Steps Taken During a Contact Lens Exam
If you plan to request to be fitted with contact lenses during your next eye exam, be sure to inform the receptionist when you schedule your eye exam appointment. Contact lens exams take a bit longer than comprehensive eye exams because every step of the comprehensive exam is performed along with additional exam steps only performed on people who wear contacts.
Additional steps taken during a contact lens exam include:
- Cornea measurements. Your optometrist will use an instrument called a keratometer to measure the curvature of your corneas. These measurements will be used to determine the base curve of your contact lenses.
- Iris diameter measurement. Your optometrist will use a corneal topographer or a special ruler to measure your horizontal visible iris diameter (HVID). This measurement is important when deciding which contact lens diameter is best for you.
- Eye cornea and tear film evaluation. Your optometrist must ensure the corneas of your eyes are healthy enough for you to wear contact lenses and that your eyes are not too dry for contact lens wear.
After your contact lens exam, your optometrist will also guide you through insertion of your contacts for the first time. They may have you try on a few different types to determine which are most comfortable for you. They will also provide you with basic contact lens care tips and recommend a contact lens replacement schedule that is best for your eye health.
Contact Lens Care Tips
While your optometrist will provide you with contact lens care instructions to follow, here are two additional contact lens care tips.
Never Sleep in Your Contact Lenses
While today's modern contact lens materials allow more oxygen to reach your corneas than older contact lens materials, all contact lens materials block some oxygen from your corneas.
Your corneas need oxygen to stay healthy. When they don't receive enough, they can begin to grow new blood vessels to deliver oxygen to them, which is a condition called corneal neovascularization. This condition can lead to blindness if it is left to progress without treatment.
You can prevent this condition by simply removing your contacts before you go to bed every night.
If you feel you must sleep in your contact lenses, be sure to ask your optometrist about extended-wear contacts. These contacts allow more oxygen to reach your corneas to prevent neovascularization.
Replace Your Contacts on Your Recommended Schedule
Be sure to remember how often your optometrist advises you to discard one pair of contact lenses and replace them with another. If it helps, mark this date on your calendar. Even if you take care to clean your contacts well every night, stubborn deposits and bacteria build up on them gradually due to their porous nature.
After some time, your contact pores become filled with eye cell waste, air pollutants, and contaminants. They then not only make your eyes more prone to infection but also starve your eyes of the oxygen they need since the pores can no longer allow as much oxygen to flow through them.Now you know what to expect during your contact lens exam and understand the hazards of sleeping in your contacts and wearing each pair longer than recommended. Contact Harry W. Chan, OD to schedule your contact lens exam today.