Why Do I Need Different Exams for Glasses and Contacts?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/21/2021 - 12:16
Female Optometrist doing an eye exam on young female patient

Did you know that if you intend to wear corrective lenses, contact lenses, or both, you need a separate eye exam for each? If you are just now realizing this, it may have surprised you!

The exam required in order for you to be fitted correctly with glasses, or even those routine comprehensive exams you expect to take every year are not the same as the exam that is needed if you intend to wear contact lenses. But why?

Let’s learn more about the difference between these eye exams.

Comprehensive Eye Exams

This is the type of eye exam that you might be the most familiar with, especially if you have never had contact lenses before. During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor or optometrist will ask you general questions about your medical history in order to understand if you may be suffering from any conditions that could impact your vision.

Then, they will proceed to test your vision using some or all of these popular methods, also known as a visual acuity assessment:

  • a visual field test
  • ocular motility test
  • eye alignment test
  • color blindness
  • refraction test
  • retinopathy test
  • slit lamp test
  • glaucoma test
  • stereopsis test

The results of these tests will help your doctor uncover any abnormalities or issues that you may have with your eyes, and determine what prescription you may need to correct your vision. Your doctor may also dilate your eyes during a comprehensive eye exam to see if there are any other issues with your eyes the other tests didn’t reveal.

A comprehensive eye exam is for everybody; whether they currently wear corrective lenses or not. Even those with perfect vision should have their eyes checked regularly in order to detect and possibly prevent or correct some common eye issues from becoming more serious conditions. Also, as we age or as life’s events unfold (pregnancy, childbirth, change of life, medical conditions, environmental impacts) our vision can change, and a different prescription may be needed to keep our vision at its best.

So whether you leave your comprehensive eye exam with a new prescription or just some peace of mind, this type of exam will either help clear up your vision or any questions that you might have. So why do you need a different exam to get contact lenses?

Contact Lens Exam

Contact lenses are medical devices; therefore they require their own exam, in addition to your comprehensive exam. During a contact lens exam, your doctor will need to determine not only the size and shape of your eye for proper contact lens fitment, but they will also need to assess your eyes for any issues that might interfere with your ability to successfully wear contact lenses period.

This assessment may include:

  • pupil and iris measurements
  • cornea measurements (and assess for astigmatism)
  • dry eye assessment
  • your comfort with different contact lens types

After this assessment is complete, your doctor will be to identify the right prescription and lens type for you, and educate you about the proper way to care for your vision, lenses, and eyes as a contact lens wearer. A contact lens prescription isn’t the same as your eyeglass prescription, so don’t get the two confused!

Contact lens exams can usually be done at the same time as your comprehensive exam, so make sure to mention if you are interested in contact lenses when you are scheduling your appointment. This can save you time and money, and frustration. Many may choose to wear both corrective lenses and contacts (but certainly not at the same time!) so make sure to speak to your doctor about how you would like to use these options.

If you are due for a routine visit, need new glasses or contact lenses, or are pursuing either for the very first time, schedule a visit with us, and let's explore all your options!

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