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Contact Lens vs Glasses Exams

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What's the Difference Between a Contact Lens and Regular Glasses Exam?

If you wear contact lenses, you'll need to set up regular, annual contact lens examinations. These are different than a regular eyeglass exam in the following ways:

1. You'll wear your contact lenses to your contact lens exam.

During a regular eyeglasses exam, a technician will ask you to remove your contacts before the exam begins. During a contact lens exam, you'll start out wearing your contact lenses. This will allow your optometrist to see exactly how your eyes are functioning in your contacts. He or she will be able to check the fit of the lenses and see how well you can see through your current prescription.

This is very important to you as a contact lens wearer because this is your optometrist's opportunity to really see how you function in your lenses. In a regular eye examination, this contact lens check does not happen. This is an opportunity to voice any concerns you have to your doctor about the way the contacts feel in your eyes day-to-day.

2. You'll take your contacts out during the contact lens exam.

After your optometrist has seen how you function in your contact lenses, your doctor will then ask you to remove your lenses. You'll want to make sure that you have your case with you and your spare eyeglasses. In some cases, your optometrist may want to dilate your eyes which will make it difficult to put your lenses back in until the dilation liquid has dissipated.

With your contact lenses out, your exam will become more like a regular eyeglasses exam. Although, your optometrist will know to look for signs of contact lens over-wear. They will also check the health of your eye in relation to your contact lenses like if the lenses are causing your eyes to be unusually dry. They'll also be able to see any signs of redness or pending infection that can come from improper contact lens care or usage.

After your optometrist proceeds with regular eye examination tests, including tests of your vision, periphery vision and eye health, they will discuss with you any specific, contact lens-related issues you may be having. If you are experiencing contact lens problems, your optometrist may recommend trialing another brand of contacts, drops for dry eye, or another type of contact lens depending on the health of your eyes and your lifestyle.

Generally, a contact lens exam lasts a few minutes longer than a regular eye exam because of the added component of checking the eyes with contact lenses and then removing the lenses. Just like regular eye exams, contact lens exams should happen once a year. 

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