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You may already know that regular eye exams and vision testing can help you receive the proper corrective lens prescription for eyeglasses -- but if you're opting for contact lenses for the first time, you might be surprised to learn that you'll also need a contact lens exam. This exam is critical for ensuring that you get accurate vision correction, a comfortable fit, and the right type of lenses to suit your lifestyle and any underlying medical issues. Our Allentown optometrists at Lehigh Valley Eye Care Associates (Dr. Tony Sankari, Dr. R. Douglas Quay and Dr. Nicholas Gidosh) can serve as your trusted resource for this important evaluation.
Why would you need a contact lens exam even though you've just had a vision evaluation and the appropriate prescription to correct a refractive error? While that vision correction data is important, it's only one facet of contact lens selection and fitting. Since contacts rest directly in contact with the eye surface, they must conform to extremely precise contours and dimensions if you want to experience clarity of vision and reasonable comfort. Contact lens exams can obtain the additional measurements necessary to create customized lenses that fit your eyes perfectly.
Our Allentown eye doctors use a variety of instruments and techniques to measure the structures at the front of your eyes as a necessary first step toward an accurate fitting. A device called a keratometer reveals your basic corneal curvature from the way light bounces off the cornea. But this technique alone cannot "map" small irregularities on the cornea's surface. To achieve that, we use a more sophisticated technique called corneal topography to record every little bulge or pit, allowing us to craft lenses that correct for these abnormalities. Our optometrists will also measure your pupils and iris. When fitting your new lenses, we may use a biomicroscope to observe how well the contact lens sits on the eye.
Certain health and lifestyle factors also play a role in determining which kind of contact lenses are right for you -- and these factors are discussed in your contact lens exam. For example, if you have dry eye, you'll need lenses that the best possible job or retaining eye moisture. Our Allentown optometrists can evaluate your tear film to determine whether dry eye will be a factor in your contact lens selection. If your eyelids have an inflammatory reaction to proteins that accumulate on extended-wear soft contacts (a problem known as giant papillary conjunctivitis), you may need single-use lenses or rigid gas permeable lenses to avoid this discomfort.
Last but not least, the type of refractive error you may may dictate your choice of contact lens type. For instance, a severe case of nearsightedness or farsightedness may be easier to correct with rigid gas permeable lenses than soft lenses, while keratoconus (a cone-like deformation of the cornea) is best corrected with scleral lenses that cover the entire cornea. Since refractive errors can change over time, regular evaluations may be necessary to adjust your prescription accordingly.
Lehigh Valley Eye Care Associates looks forward to helping you see the world as clearly and comfortably as possible through your new contact lenses. Take the first step by calling our Allentown optometry center at (610) 432-3258 to schedule a contact lens exam!