What’s the difference?
The answer is… There really isn’t a “difference”, so to speak. You have to get the eye exam in order to go to the next step of what is actually a contact lens fitting and evaluation. And, before you ask, yes! You have to have that done even if you’ve been wearing contacts “your whole life”!
Well, because things change! You’ve worn shoes your whole life, too. But styles change. Designs change. Tastes change. Similar with contact lenses. And the evaluation of your eye tells us what changes may have to be made to your next prescription.
To begin, you aren’t able to get “just a contact lens exam”. All contact lens evaluations have to start with a full comprehensive eye health exam. Similarly, you can’t have “just a contact lens prescription”. Every so often, a patient will tell us that they just had a contact lens exam elsewhere, but they didn’t have a prescription done for glasses. Generally, they either misunderstood or the office that did the exam didn’t explain clearly that the doctor needs the numbers that make up a glasses prescription in order to formulate a contact lens prescription. They are rarely exactly the same, but that’s how we start.
Certain rules establish the procedures that must be performed to conduct a comprehensive eye exam. Not the least of these is the refraction which is used to determine what you are able to see and, ultimately, gives us the numbers that we use to make glasses and fit contacts. In case you’re wondering, the refraction is when Dr Kay or Dr Deweese put the funky-looking black thing in front of your face, flip some lenses around and ask, ‘What’s better? Number one or number two?”
Once that has been done, along with an assessment of the internal and external health of your eye, further evaluation has to done to your cornea – what is the curvature? Is it healthy? Does it show sign of current contact lens misuse? (And, yes. We can tell if you’ve been misbehaving!) Does your eye have a healthy tear film?
Also, there’s little doubt that, since your last exam, improvements have been made to contact lenses even if your last exam was only a year or two ago. Things like materials that increase moisture content which makes them more comfortable to wear even if you suffer from some form of dry eye.
And don’t forget! With each trip that we take around the sun, our vision needs change along with our eye’s physical properties. The progress made in the design of multifocal contact lenses – “bifocal” contacts, if you will – has been enormous over the past few years! Time was that wearing a bifocal contact lens meant that you most likely had to give something up. If you wanted clear distance vision, you may have lost some clarity up close and vice versa. And computer-range caused a whole slew of aggravations!
Today’s multifocal contacts are much friendlier. Maybe because the people designing them have reached the age where they actually have to wear them!
So. What else?
By their name – contact lenses – the implication is that they come into “contact” with something. And they do! They rest on your eye’s cornea – the clear “bubble” that covers the colored part of your eye. To properly fit you in contacts, it must first be determined if that bubble is healthy. While it’s true that checking the health is part of a regular eye exam, the contact lens evaluation requires the doctors to look a little closer at your bubbles. The findings that they make will help determine whether or not you can wear – or continue to wear – contact lenses.
And, for first-time wearers, the fit and evaluation includes training session on how to put contacts in and take them out. It isn’t always as simple as it seems!
What about cost?
Well, now. Yes. There is an additional charge for the fit and evaluation. Additional services have been performed so, naturally, there is cost involved. The work has been done and compensation is collected for that work. In most cases, that charge includes a certain number of follow-up visits in case the contact lens prescription has to be adjusted for some reason.
Ready for contact lenses? Ready for your annual exam?
Give us a call! We’ll take good care of you!