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What Happens at a Contact Lens Fitting?

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A woman putting a contact lens in her eye for the first time during her contact lens fitting at the optometrist's

Many factors go into deciding the best contact lens for you. This is why when you’re ready to go frame-less, you’ll need a contact lens fitting. A properly-fitted contact lens can go a long way in ensuring you have clear vision and healthy eyes.

A contact lens fitting will help your optometrist get all the information they need to prescribe the best lenses. This includes measuring your cornea, assessing the health of your tear film, and matching the type of lens with your lifestyle. As with an eye exam, a fitting can indicate if there are any eye conditions for you to be aware of.

The Benefits of a Properly-Fitted Contact Lens

Contact lenses are an effective way to correct various refractive errors while maintaining versatility and freedom. Different types of contact lenses can help with specific eye conditions, such as lenses designed for astigmatism or to help with dry eyes.

Contact lenses come in a few different types, including:

Soft Contact Lenses

Soft contact lenses are made of plastic polymers that result in a flexible plastic designed to feel comfortable on your eyes. Most contact lens wearers wear soft lenses thanks to this combination of comfort and clear vision. They are, however, less durable than harder lenses and can dry out in hot or windy environments, leading to eye irritation.

Soft contact lenses could be prescribed for daily wear or extended wear, depending on your lifestyle. Many are also disposable. Disposable contact lenses come in daily, biweekly or monthly replacement formats.

Rigid Gas-Permeable (RGP) Lenses

Harder than soft lenses but softer than hard lenses, RGP lenses take up the middle ground in types of contacts. They’re a relatively firm lens that allows oxygen to pass through to the eye. They’re generally reported to provide sharper vision than soft contact lenses, but it can take longer to grow accustomed to their feeling on your eye.

RGP lenses can be designed for extended wear. However, many eye specialists warn against wearing contact lenses while you sleep.

Hard Contact Lenses

Hard contact lenses are made of a gas-permeable material that allows oxygen to reach the cornea, reducing the problems that can occur when the cornea is oxygen-starved. These types of lenses are good at correcting refractive errors, such as astigmatism.

Hybrid Contact Lenses

Hybrid lenses combine the visual acuity of RGP lenses and the comfort of soft lenses into one lens. Hybrid lenses can be beneficial to many people, especially those with irregular corneal astigmatism. These contacts come in many forms, including multifocal.

The perfect contact lens for you depends on your eye health needs and lifestyle. Your optometrist will work with you to determine the best lens for your unique situation.

A young woman using a mirror at the optometrist's office to look at her eyes while she tries on contacts

During The Contact Lens Fitting

After a comprehensive eye exam, a contact lens fitting typically begins with your optometrist measuring the curvature of your cornea. This is done with an instrument known as a keratometer that sends light into your eye and measures the results.

You’ll begin by facing the machine and resting your chin on a brace. This holds your head still while the keratometer shines a light through your cornea. When the light passes through your eye, the keratometer can detect any scattering, and your optometrist will use this information to determine your contact lens size.

Sometimes your eye doctor will need more information and decide to map out your entire cornea using a corneal topographer. Your doctor can create a map of the surface of your eye using the corneal topographer, seeing the ridges and curves that might be causing your vision problems. The device works similarly to the keratometer by bouncing light off your cornea.

Since contact lenses work best when moist, your optometrist also tests your ability to produce healthy tears. This is done through a simple tear film evaluation, in which your optometrist will place a small strip of paper beneath your eye to allow tears to wet it. If you have a history of dry eyes, you could be prescribed a type of soft lens designed to retain moisture better.

Proper Care For Contact Lenses

Your contact lens fitting will end with your optometrist taking you through caring for your new lenses. If you’ve never worn contact lenses before, they’ll also show you how to insert and remove your lenses properly. This process can be uncomfortable if you’ve never done it before, but it gets easier with time.

Always wash your hands before touching your eye, and use your optometrist’s suggested cleaning solution. Contact lenses are designed to be worn for a certain amount of time before being removed or replaced, and overwearing contact lenses can result in discomfort or infection.

Finding Your Perfect Vision

Consider the time after your contact lens fitting a trial period. You’ll receive trial lenses that your optometrist will test on your eye using a slit lamp. This ensures it doesn’t slip around as you move your eye. You can take a supply of these lenses home and try them for a week before deciding if they’re the right ones for you.Your contact should be designed for your vision. Our team at the Eye Care Centre is ready to answer any questions you have about leaving glasses behind. Book a contact lens fitting with us today!

Written by Dr. Daryl Berger

Dr. Berger was born and raised in Red Deer. After studying at Red Deer College and the U of A, he graduated with honours from the optometry program at Waterloo in 2007. Daryl enjoys music, cars, biking, hiking, snowboarding and travel. He and his wife, Pamela, have twin boys and a dog named Gus.
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