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Why is a Yearly Contact Lens Eye Exam Important?

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A young woman sits in an exam chair at an optometrist's office. The optometrist examines the woman's eye for proper contact lens fit.

Forty-five million Americans rely on contact lenses as an important part of their daily lives, valuing the freedom and flexibility they give over traditional eyeglasses. If you’re among these people, you already know the importance of regular eye exams to ensure your vision remains sharp and your eyes healthy.

However, for contact lens wearers, we provide an additional specialized exam. This is the annual contact lens eye exam, a key component of eye care that goes beyond the standard check-up.

Since contact lenses sit directly on the cornea (the eye’s delicate outer surface), issues related to the fit, material, or maintenance of the lenses may have critical implications for your ocular health. There’s a lot to cover during these exams, from reviewing your lens type and wear schedule to addressing any comfort issues. Here’s a brief rundown of these exams in our Griffey Eye Care clinics at Carmichael, Edwin Drive, and Kempsville, as well as some critical points to discuss with your optometrist.

Why Do People Wear Contacts?

Close-up of a young woman's hand holding a contact lens on her index finger. She appears to be concentrating on placing the lens in her eye.

Contact lenses are great for better aesthetics and convenience, especially in sports and activities where glasses may be uncomfortable. They offer a broader field of view by matching the eye’s curvature, preventing visual distortions.

Available in soft and hard variants, soft lenses are known for their comfort, given their high oxygen-permeable material. They are less prone to displacement, making them ideal for active lifestyles. They include daily, disposable, and extendable types that cater to varying wear schedules.

While effective for treating astigmatism, hard lenses require an adjustment period for their firmer fit and lower water content. Both soft and hard lenses come in bifocal and multifocal options to address multiple vision corrections simultaneously. 

Rigid gas permeable (RGP) contacts are sometimes called hard contacts, as their firm material has limited flexibility. RGP lenses are durable and made for long-term use. Typically, RGP lenses provide sharper vision compared to soft lenses. Initially, it can take longer to adjust to RGP contact lenses. Patients also need to wear the lenses consistently to maintain tolerance.

Contact Lens Types

Read more about the contact lens options below at Griffey Eye Care & Laser Center.

  • Soft Daily Wear Lenses
  • Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) Contact Lenses
  • Toric Contact Lenses
  • Scleral Contact Lenses
  • Decorative, Cosmetic Contact Lenses

Contact Lens Eye Exam vs. Comprehensive Eye Exam

A contact lens eye exam is different from a comprehensive eye exam. While the comprehensive eye exam involves questions about your vision and general health, a visual acuity test to check your seeing capabilities at different distances, and an inspection of your eye’s basic structures, it doesn’t automatically cover a contact lens fitting.

Separating or combining these exams is up to the patient, but they must get an annual re-evaluation to maintain their eye health. Regular exams allow your optometrist to detect potential eye issues early, even if you’re not experiencing symptoms.

For example, contact lens wearers can develop hypoxia,—a condition where the cornea isn’t receiving adequate oxygen, often from extended-wear lenses. Although hypoxia might not initially present noticeable symptoms, it can lead to severe complications.

Early detection by your optometrist can help you adjust your lens type to mitigate these risks. As your eyeglass prescription can change over time, so can your contact lens prescription.

What to Expect During a Contact Lens Exam

During your contact lens exam, expect a thorough evaluation that begins with assessing your vision and determining your current prescription needs. Your optometrist will conduct precise measurements of your eyes, including the cornea, pupil, iris, and tear film layers, for the best possible fit for your contact lenses.

A big part of this process is measuring the curvature of your cornea to identify conditions like astigmatism, which requires specialized lenses. Based on these assessments, a specific brand and type of contact lens will be recommended for you.

A trial pair of lenses will then be ordered so you can test out the fit and comfort over approximately a week. This trial period allows you and your optometrist to evaluate how well the lenses suit your eyes in various conditions.

How To Order Your Contacts

There are two ways you can order your contacts.

Once you are signed up through your provider,  you can order directly through Abby – a hassle-free, secure way to purchase your contact lenses from the eye doctor you already trust. With Abby, you gain the added convenience of tracking your orders, easily accessing your prescription, and staying informed about when your prescription will need renewal.

Second, you can schedule an appointment and place your order through Griffey Eye Care & Laser Center, which offers a broad selection of contact lenses tailored to match your specific vision needs and lifestyle, backed by a meticulous exam and fitting process. If eligible, we have laser treatments available for a longer-lasting alternative.

Schedule An Appointment for a contact lens exam and fitting in our Griffey Eye Care clinics located at Carmichael, Kempsville in Chesapeake, and Edwin Drive in Virginia Beach.

The information offered in this blog is not intended to substitute expert medical advice. Always seek a qualified healthcare professional for any questions or concerns you may have regarding your specific medical condition.

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