Eye Exams for Contacts: What to Expect

Posted by CooperVision on Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are you a patient interested in contact lenses? There are special tests done during eye exams for contacts that are not done during an eye exam for eyeglasses. If you are interested in contact lenses, you should let your eye doctor know ahead of time so that your eye doctor can perform additional tests for the right contact lens fit and prescription. Here is what a typical eye exam for contacts will look like:

General Lifestyle Questions

Your eye doctor will ask you questions about your daily activities and routine in order to get a better understanding of what contact lens is right for you. CooperVision even offers a quiz called Find A Lens that allows you to print your results and bring them to eye exam to help start the conversation with your eye doctor. Here are some of the possible lifestyle questions that your eye doctor may ask:

  • Are you active in sports?
  • Do you suffer from allergies?
  • How long is your work day? Are you a night owl?
  • Do you want to see clearly right away when you wake up?

Contact Lens Measurements

Your eye doctor will then take your contact lens measurements in order to ensure that the contact lenses fit properly. Your eye doctor will take measurements of your cornea with an instrument called a keratometer. Your eye doctor may also take pupil and iris measurements too.

Tear Film Assessment

Your eye doctor may do a tear film evaluation. There are a few ways that your eye doctor can assess your body’s ability to produce tears. Your eye doctor may drop a fluorescein dye to the tear layer on your eye or with a strip containing the dye and then see how long it takes for your tears to evaporate. Another way your eye doctor can evaluate your tear film is to place a piece of paper underneath your lower eyelid for five minutes and then seeing the length of paper moistened by your tears. If you have an insufficient tear film, you may have dry eye syndrome. Your eye doctor may recommend contact lenses that can help with dry eye symptoms. Proclear contact lenses for example, are the only contact lenses on the market to carry the FDA-approved labeling statement, ‘May provide improved comfort for contact lens wearers who experience mild discomfort or symptoms relating to dryness during lens wear.’

Contact Lens Fit

Your doctor will check the health of your eye surface using an instrument called a slit lamp. This instrument is also used to help your eye doctor see if a trial contact lens fits well on your eye. It typically takes two visits to complete a contact lens fitting. In the follow up visit, your eye doctor will check and ensure that the contact lenses are fitting correctly. Typically, you will be asked to remove your contact lenses for this test. After your eye doctor finds that the contact lenses fit properly, are comfortable, and allow you to see well, your eye doctor will then write you a contact lens prescription. This prescription will indicate the contact lens power, a shape matching the curvature of your eye (base curve), and diameter.

For more information about eye exams for contact lenses, make sure to ask your eye doctor. To locate an eye doctor near you, try CooperVision’s Find A Practitioner Locator.


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On Eye is the contact lens blog from CooperVision. On this site, you will find insights about fitting, technology, and the business of contact lenses. The On Eye blog is designed to meet the needs of both Eye Care Practitioners and consumers. ECP and medical professional-specific portions of the blog will be password protected in order to protect and reserve the privacy of the profession. To read more about our terms of use, please see the Legal tab.


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