Note: Please do not fit contact lenses to your eyes if they have not been fitted by an optometrist. They are a medical device that sits on the surface of your eye. Every eye is different and misuse or incorrect fitting can cause complications with the health of your eye.
How do I get contact lenses for the first time?
Contact lenses must be prescribed by a person who is qualified to do so – an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Arriving at a prescription is a multi-step process which may require several consultations and trial fittings. Initial steps include an assessment of your vision and your eye shape and detailed examination of your eye surface, eyelids and tear film. There will be discussion about which lens is most suitable for you and the advantages and disadvantages of different types of lenses, and the costs associated with each type.
During the fitting process you will have lenses placed on your eye which will be assessed for the vision they provide and for their physical fit. You will be taught how to get your lenses in and out and how to look after them. After you’ve worn lenses for a period of time, further examination will assess the lenses in terms of vision, comfort and physical performance. Changes may be made and further assessment will take place. Once both you and the optometrist are satisfied with the result a prescription will be issued.
What is a contact lens prescription? Is it the same as a glasses prescription?
Both kinds of prescriptions have the details of a kind of lens to help you see better but a contact lens prescription is more detailed than a spectacle prescription. It includes the size, shape and optical power of the lenses and specifies the material from which the lens is made and the brand name. It may include the colour of the lens and edge profile details.
A contact lens prescription has an expiry date because the wearer’s vision could change; because lenses may impact on the condition of the wearer’s eye surface and because lens technology changes over time.
Why should I have an exam before buying more lenses?
Even though you may have been wearing the same contact lens prescription for some time, changes in vision can be so gradual that you might not notice the shift and eye health issues can arise without any significant signs. Having an exam ensures that you are still seeing well and that your eye surface is healthy. An exam can also detect any early signs of difficulty with future contact lens use and ensures that you are wearing the right lenses for your needs. Optometrists have a duty of care to ensure the ongoing health of your eyes and that continued contact lens wear remains safe.
Is it OK to purchase a different brand of contact lens from the one I was prescribed?
This is unwise, because different lens materials have different physical properties. Properties that vary between lenses include the modulus (stiffness), thickness, water content and oxygen transmission. Varying these properties may alter your comfort and how healthy the lenses are for your eyes.
What are the risks of wearing contact lenses?
Modern contact lenses are designed to be safe and healthy. However, they require appropriate care and handling to maintain vision clarity and minimse the risk on eye infections.