Contact Lens Fitting and Specialty Lenses

Contact lenses are prized for the independence and comfort they provide for their wearers. Specialty contact lenses, designed to meet patients’ individual optical requirements, have made contacts even more popular. The key to enjoying these advantages, however, is in the lens fitting procedure. Without a proper contact lens fitting, they can actually harm your ocular health.

To get the most out of your contact lenses, read this detailed guide on contact lens fittings and specialty contacts. With the help of your eye doctor, you can wear contact lenses in safety and comfort while enjoying better vision.

In this article, we will discuss:

A contact lens fitting includes a thorough examination of your vision and ocular health

  • What to expect during a contact lens fitting
  • Assessing the patient’s needs
  • Initial eye exams and detailed measurements
  • Receiving and evaluating a trial pair contacts
  • Follow-up appointment
  • Specialty contact lenses
  • RGP lenses
  • Scleral lenses
  • Toric lenses
  • Multifocal lenses
  • The importance of good fitting contact lenses

What to Expect at a Contact Lens Fitting

A contact lens fitting is a thorough procedure designed to ensure that the lens fit is appropriate for the patient. This process is more involved than getting one’s eyes checked for wearing glasses. It includes:

  • A thorough examination of your vision and ocular health.
  • Taking measurements of the curvature of the eye.
  • Trialing different contact lens brands and prescriptions to ensure the best fit and vision for the patient.

Assessing the patient’s needs

When prescribing contact lenses, optometrists assess each patient’s individual visual needs, habits, and personal preferences.

Those with specific visual demands and needs may benefit from specialty contact lenses. This includes people with diseased or abnormal corneas. Specialty contact lenses can be designed for problems such as keratoconus, dry eye disease, post corneal transplant, post refractive surgery, and very high prescriptions.

Eye doctors also will discuss contact lens maintenance and care with patients. Some types of contact lenses need more maintenance than others. Doctors prescribe contacts, not only cater to one’s daily needs, but to ensure clear vision and an appropriate fit.

Initial eye exams and detailed measurements

The eye doctor takes a number of detailed measurements during the comprehensive eye exam. If needed, a keratometer may be used to measure the surface of the cornea — the clear covering of the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. The doctor might also decide to use corneal topography to produce a precise outline of the cornea’s curvature. These tests can detect distortions that might cause astigmatism, keratoconus, or other problems that could require specialty lenses.

Receiving a trial pair and guidance

During a contact lens fitting, eye specialists often provide patients with a trial pair of contacts. Some clinics offer multiple brands to allow patients to test their comfort and efficacy. The patient will normally try on the contacts briefly in the clinic to test their comfort and fit. This allows the doctor to make quick changes or suggestions.

Follow-up appointment

The doctor usually instructs the patient to wear the lenses at home for a minimum of a few hours every day for a 1-2 weeks, and then come back for a follow-up appointment.

The extended wear helps assess comfort and effectiveness throughout routine activities and ensures the contact lenses are acceptable for daily usage.

During the return visit, the doctor will retest the patient’s vision and answer any questions the patient may have. If the patient reports discomfort while wearing contacts, the doctor will refit them with a different type or brand. Once the patient trials the contacts for a few days to a week and has no complaints, the patient can then finalize the contact lens prescription and order more lenses.

Specialty Contact Lenses

The material and function of specialty contact lenses are distinct from one another. They are specifically designed for certain eye conditions. If any of the following applies to you, you may need specialty contact lenses:

  • Corneal diseases like keratoconus, which involves a cone-shaped cornea, or pellucid marginal degeneration, a progressive thinning of the cornea.
  • A history of eye surgery, such as corneal transplants and vision correction surgeries.
  • Corneal infections or injuries that permanently scarred the cornea.
  • Severe dry eyes.
  • Eye damage stemming from trauma, birth defect or disease.
  • High glasses prescriptions or large amounts of astigmatism.

RGP lenses

RGP lenses, also called GP lenses, work well for those who had ocular surgeries such as post-refractive surgery or corneal transplants. They are also are good for patients with higher prescriptions, greater amounts of astigmatism, and keratoconus.

Doctors can customize RGP lenses to fit irregular eye shapes. They are hard contact lenses with a smaller diameter and rest on the cornea. They move on the eye as the patient blinks. RGPs can provide more clear and crisp vision when compared to soft contacts. If taken care of properly, they can have a long lifespan, perhaps a year or longer, so they have a less-frequent replacement schedule.

Scleral lenses

Scleral lenses are hard contact lenses with a larger diameter. They vault over the cornea to rest on the sclera (the white part of the eye) to create an even tear film between the cornea and the contact lens. There is little to no movement when the patient blinks.

They are recommended for patients with issues such as keratoconus, post refractive surgery, corneal transplants, dry eye disease, higher prescriptions, larger amounts of astigmatism, corneal scarring, and more.

Scleral lenses require a more complex fitting process. They are more comfortable than RGPs and provide superior vision compared to RGPs and soft contacts. These also have a less-frequent replacement schedule and can last over a year if taken care of properly.

Toric lenses During the contact lens fitting, an optometrist may discuss options for the type of lens that is best for you.

Toric contact lenses are used to treat astigmatism. Astigmatism is a condition where there is an irregular shape of the cornea or lens of the eye. Uncorrected astigmatism can cause shadowing and issues with glare — especially when night driving. Soft toric contact lenses are typically weighted to keep the lens aligned in order to provide clear vision. RGPs and scleral lenses help to mask astigmatism.

Multifocal/monovision lenses

Multifocal contact lenses come in both hard and soft modalities. They correct distance, computer, and reading vision all in one lens.

Monovision contacts correct one eye for distance viewing and one eye for reading.

The Importance of a Good Fit

Having your contact lenses professionally evaluated is crucial to achieving good vision and a healthy fit. This can help avoid adverse conditions such as corneal ulcers, dryness, and blurry vision. Dr. Shepos, as well as the Florida Medical Clinic Optical Center, have the tools needed to assess visual quality and lens movement on the eye, and ensure a comfortable fitting lens for the patient’s needs.

If you think you might need specialty contact lenses or a contact lens fitting, call 813-284-2300 or click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chelsey Shepos at a Florida Medical Clinic location in Land o’ Lakes or North Tampa.

Meet Chelsey Shepos, O.D.

A Pittsburgh native, board-certified optometrist Dr. Chelsey Shepos has a wide variety of experience seeing patients in different clinical settings. Dr. Shepos aims to help patients manage their eye health by providing comprehensive, compassionate care.

In addition to providing general eye care services, Dr. Shepos specializes in helping patients with ocular disease, dry eye, myopia management and advanced contact lens fittings.




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