The Difference Between an Eye Exam & a Contact Lens Exam

If you have vision problems, then you will likely need a corrective solution to help you see clearly again. Most of the time, this decision comes down to glasses or contact lenses. However, what you may not be aware of is that if you are even considering contacts, you will need to let your eye doctor know at the time of booking your appointment because in addition to your comprehensive eye exam, you will also need a contact lens exam.



Why do I need to have both an eye exam and a contact lens exam?

This is one of the most common questions that patients who are starting out in their contact lens journey ask and there are various reasons why both of these exams should form part of your eye care.


Eye exams are given to every patient

Whether you wear glasses, contact lenses or do not require any prescription eyewear at all, a comprehensive eye exam is for everyone. This is because the process involves a number of important tests designed to assess the health and condition of your eyes in addition to your vision. There are many issues and diseases that can affect our eyes, from relatively minor and manageable conditions such as dry eye disease to those like glaucoma or retinal detachment which can have permanent consequences for our vision. Your comprehensive eye exam will check for your risks of developing each of these diseases and ensure that your eyes are as healthy as possible.


Your eye exam will assess how clearly you can see

A comprehensive eye exam also involves a test called a visual acuity assessment which is designed to see how clearly you can see objects at different distances. For example, you may be able to see nearby objects clearly but struggle to focus on things that are further away. You may even have blurred vision at all distances. This test will be able to determine if you have a refractive eye error that means that you would benefit from glasses or contact lenses. If you will benefit from a corrective solution and decide to go with contact lenses, you will then be given a contact lens exam.


Contact lens prescriptions are different from glasses prescriptions

One of the main reasons why you will need a contact lens exam is because the prescriptions for contacts are very different from those for glasses. This is because, unlike glasses lenses which are worn a short distance from your eyes, contacts sit directly on the surface of the eye and as such, the strength of the prescription will be very different.


Contact lens exams will be used to determine which contact lenses are right for you

Not all contact lenses are the same, and neither are our corneas. This domed clear cover over the front part of the eye can vary significantly between patients which is why it is necessary to perform a number of assessments to determine which lenses will fit you best. This will include an evaluation of the gradient of your corneal curve, measurements of your pupils and iris, and a check to see how much tear film your eyes produce. This information will be used to determine the perfect size and shape contact lens based on your individual requirements. While some patients are found to be poor candidates for regular contact lenses, there are some specialty designs which means that the vast majority of patients can benefit from wearing contact lenses.


Once your eye doctor has decided which contact lenses may be best for you, you will be given a generic pair of that style to try in order to check the fit and so that you can let them know if they are comfortable and you can handle placing them in your eyes and removing them again. Your unique prescription lenses can then be ordered for you.



If you have any further questions about the difference between an eye exam and a contact lens exam, don’t delay in contact our expert eye care team.

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