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Why do I have to get my eyes tested before buying contact lenses?

As medical products, contact lenses need to be handled with great care. You insert them in your eyes after all, so it is only wise to visit an eye doctor before buying your first pair. Contact lenses come in different sizes and powers and it is your eye doctor’s job to fit you with the correct size contacts that are in the power of vision correction that you need. They will also show you how to use your contact lenses and how to take care of them.

To diagnose your prescription

Eye tests before buying contact lensesMany people need vision correction and exactly to what level, needs to be established by your eye doctor or optometrist. After testing, they will then give you a prescription for your vision correction. The range of powers available from any given manufacturer varies from brand to brand but most of them cover the needs of 99% of patients. For them to be able to specify what prescription is best for you, your eye care specialist needs to test your eyes. The will be able to tell whether you are short-sighted or long-sighted and whether you have astigmatism or presbyopia and to what degree you are in need of correction. Depending on the result of these tests, they will give you a contact lens prescription for your eyes. Please remember that if you are wearing glasses, your prescription for contact lenses will be different to the one for your glasses. Contacts lay directly on your eyes, whereas glasses sit a few centimeters away, hence the difference in prescription.

To fit your contact lenses properly

Even if it turns out that you don't need vision correction because your eyesight is perfectly good, you should still have a contact lens fitting session if you're planning to buy plano or zero power coloured lenses. The reason for this is simple - with contact lenses one size does NOT fit all. Contacts have certain parameters that may or may not suit your eyes. You need to establish what contact lens parameters are best for you and you can only do that by visiting your optician.

Wearing poorly fitting contact lenses can cause complications, varying from eye irritation to serious corneal damage, infection and even blindness. To make sure this does not happen, optometrists and ophthalmologists follow special procedures and use a device called a keratometer to measure corneal curvature. This is one of the most important elements in your contact lens prescriptions. Remember that even if you don't need vision correction, this parameter is still very important. On contact lens packaging this parameter is marked as B.C. or base curve and it normally ranges between 8.0 and 10. The higher the number, the flatter your cornea.

Another contact lens parameter that your eye doctor needs to specify is DIA or lens diameter. The largest contact lenses you can find in our shop are sclera lenses with a diameter of 22mm. Regular contact lenses have diameters ranging from 13.0 to 15mm. BC and DIA are always specified together and in simple terms they define contact lens size and curvature.

Wearing contact lenses that are too small can result in corneal injury and a risk of infection. Contact lenses that are too big may slide or roll on your eyes and you will have difficulty inserting them. So in conclusion, it is very important to perform a contact lens fitting session with your eye doctor before buying your first pair.

To show you how to use them safely

During your contact lens fitting session your optometrist or ophthalmologist, should provide you with all the necessary lens use and care instructions you are ever likely to need as well as assistance if any problems arise. Your eye doctor will show you how to put in and take out your contact lenses safely and they'll also inform you about the risks and responsibilities associated with wearing contact lenses. The single most important issue to discuss is hygiene. Your eye doctor should show you exactly how to clean and store your contact lenses so that they are safe and comfortable right through their life span. They may also recommend a particular brand of lens cleaning solutions, suited for your specific needs. If you often suffer from dry eyes for instance, your doctor should also prescribe contact lens friendly eye drops, which will improve your lens comfort throughout the day. For more advice on this topic, read this article with a tutorial video.

As you can see, an appointment with your eye doctor is a must before investing in contact lenses. It is best for your health and safety to know if you can wear contact lenses and what your eyes individual needs are. By being tested properly you are also minimizing the risk of disappointment. Now you will be able to order contacts that are suited for your eyes and are comfortable to wear. In other words, look great - feel great!

Remember - Our eye care team is always happy to help if you have any questions along the way. Please note however, online advice is never a substitute for an eye exam with your eye doctor.