When you wear contacts lenses, a precise fitting and comprehensive exam are essential to the clarity of your vision, as well as to your safety and satisfaction.
As trusted eye doctors serving Fredericksburg, Culpeper and surrounding communities, our doctors are focused on ensuring sharp vision and a comfortable fit for patients who rely on contact lenses, including conventional daily wear varieties, disposables, planned replacements, soft torics, rigid gas permeables, multifocal lenses, and scleral lenses.
Contact lenses have come a long way from the days of heat disinfection and extended-wear discomfort. Advancing technology has generated a wide array of exciting new options for lens wearers, and the comfort level has never been higher. In fact, today’s contact lenses are comprised mostly of water. There are now lenses that treat astigmatism and new multifocal varieties that allow wearers to ditch those old Ben Franklin reading glasses.
Contact Lens Fitting Exam
Our doctors will discuss all of the new vision correction options during your contact lens fitting exam. As part of your exam, we will measure the pupil, iris and curvature of the cornea to ensure optimal fit for your lenses. The doctors will also evaluate the rate at which your eye produces tears, as this will affect how well your eye accommodates certain types of contacts.
After checking your vision and measuring refractive errors, our doctors will provide you with trial lenses and check their fit, alignment and movement using a microscope. If you are satisfied with the lenses, you will be able to try them out for a week or more, before returning to the office for a follow-up evaluation. If you are happy with the comfort and clarity of your vision, your doctor will write your final prescription.
Scleral lenses are a type of specialized contact lens recommended to patients with irregular corneas. Larger than standard contact lenses, scleral lenses rest directly on the white part of the eye, called the sclera, and vault over the cornea. By design, scleral lenses bridge over corneal irregularities, creating a smooth surface to properly refract incoming light onto the retina. They are made from a soft, gas permeable material that patients usually find quite comfortable.
Who Needs Scleral Lenses?
Patients with the following types of eye problems see the most benefit from scleral lenses:
- Other corneal dystrophies and diseases
- Corneal scars
- Post-corneal transplant surgery
Scleral lenses are also useful in cases of severe dry eye and other ocular surface diseases. Because the lenses vault over the cornea, there is a space between the front surface of the cornea and the lens that functions as a constant tear reservoir. The reservoir continually bathes the eyes in tears, keeping them comfortably hydrated. Symptoms often associated with dry eyes — such as redness, discomfort and sensitivity to light — are often reduced with scleral lenses. Some dry eye patients have less need for artificial tears and enjoy a better quality of life, thanks to scleral lenses.
Other Benefits of Scleral Lenses
Scleral lenses rest gently on the sclera, which has fewer nerve endings than the cornea. For this reason, the lenses are generally more comfortable than standard lenses. Also, scleral lenses are made from a very breathable material that allows plenty of oxygen to permeate and reach the cornea. They are perfect for sensitive eyes.
Scleral lenses are highly customizable to accommodate nearly all degrees of corneal irregularity and eye shapes. Patients who had difficulty fitting into or wearing other types of contact lenses usually find that scleral lenses are the more suitable option.
Due to scleral lenses’ rigidity and size, they typically do not shift or move around in the eye very much. They tend to be more stable compared to other lenses and are less likely to accidentally fall out of the eye.
Properly maintained lenses can last a very long time.
Fitting Scleral Lenses
The process of fitting scleral lenses is more specialized and time-consuming than the process of fitting standard contacts. Additional measuring and imaging instruments and devices may be necessary to find a great fit. The eye doctor may need to create a map of the cornea’s curvature to help guide the fitting.
If you need scleral lenses, it is imperative that you find a team with the required training and experience that understands how much work goes into fitting and customizing the lenses.
You can trust Vista Eye Specialists to advise you of the best lenses for your eyes and fit them to your exact measurements and visual needs. We will show you how to insert and remove the lenses (the process differs slightly from what you would expect when inserting and removing standard contacts). We will also walk you through the care and maintenance of scleral lenses, so you can prolong the life of your lenses as long as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Contact Lenses and Fitting Exams
Is a contact lens fitting painful?
A well-performed contact lens fitting with an experienced eye doctor should not be painful. It may feel slightly unusual if it is your first time wearing lenses, but it will not hurt. If you experience any discomfort during the fitting, please let your provider know.
How long does a contact lens fitting take?
On average, contact lens fittings last about an hour.
Is it hard to put in contacts?
At first, it can take some time to adapt to putting in your contacts. A good contact lens fitting will make it easier to insert and remove the lenses. Our eye care professionals can also share tips that will help you safely and comfortably adjust to wearing your new lenses.
Are contact lens and eyeglass prescriptions the same?
No, they are two different prescriptions. Glasses sit a few millimeters away from your eyes, and contacts are placed directly on the surface of your eyes, so the prescriptions will account for that. A contact lens prescription also includes specifications such as base curve and diameter, which is determined by the shape of your cornea.
A prescription for contacts is usually valid for one year and a prescription for eyeglasses is usually valid for one to two years.
Can contact lenses give me an eye infection?
Remember that contact lenses are foreign devices that rest right up against the surface of your eyes. If you do not adequately care for your contacts, you put yourself at a higher risk for eye infections. But as long as you adhere to the proper hygiene guidelines and wearing schedule, and replace your lenses as instructed by your doctor, your risk of an eye infection decreases and is minimal.
How should I care for my contact lenses?
Contact lens care depends on the type of lens you wear. Generally speaking, if you wear daily disposable contacts, you simply discard them at the end of the day. If you wear reusable lenses, you need to clean them every day with a disinfecting product and store them overnight in a special solution. Our eye care professionals will give you instructions for the care, cleaning and replacement of your specific lenses, and suggest suitable products.
No matter what type of contacts you wear, you should always wash and rinse your hands before touching your lenses. You should also keep water away from your contacts and avoid rinsing them with water, as there could be microorganisms that stick to the lenses and get inside your eye, causing an infection. Never use other fluids, including saliva, to rinse or moisturize your lenses.
Can my contacts get stuck behind my eyes?
No. A contact can become dislodged from its proper position and stuck under your eyelid, but when this happens, the lens usually works itself out. If you find that you cannot remove one of your contacts, our team can help retrieve the lens.
Can I sleep in my contact lenses?
You should not sleep in your contacts unless they are specifically prescribed for overnight wear and your doctor has cleared you to do so.
Voted Top Eye Doctors by Northern Virginia Magazine, Vista Eye Specialists are the preferred choice for patients seeking comprehensive eye care in Fredericksburg and Culpeper, Virginia. To schedule an eye exam, please contact one of our offices today.