All About Contacts

If you are new to contact lenses, your first step in finding the right pair is to see an eye doctor for an eye exam and contact lens fitting. Contact lenses, like eyeglasses or vision surgery, can correct your nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Among Americans who need vision correction, about 20 percent wear contact lenses.

an image of contacts

While some people enjoy making a fashion statement with eyeglasses, others prefer their appearance without them. Contact lenses offer the ability to be glasses-free without expensive vision surgery. Contacts also provide a wider field-of-view than glasses, which is great for sports.

Contact lenses have been around for more than a hundred years, and today just about everyone can wear contact lenses. If you were told in the past that you couldn't wear contacts, odds are you can today. There are more convenient and healthy contact lens options than ever, including many contact lenses that can correct astigmatism.

In the United States, contact lenses are considered medical devices, and they must be prescribed and properly fitted by an eyecare professional. Your eye doctor will evaluate your visual needs, your eye structure, and your tears to help determine the best type of contact lenses for you.

During the exam, your doctor will make sure your eyes are healthy enough to wear contact lenses and will counsel you about what to expect when wearing contacts. Next comes the contact fitting itself. Detailed measurements of your eyes are taken, and trial lenses are applied to achieve the best possible fit and determine if you can comfortably wear contacts.

A contact lens fitting takes more than a single visit to the eye doctor. You will be asked to return for follow-up visits to make sure the lenses continue to fit properly and remain comfortable after prolonged periods of wear. In some cases, changes of lens size or design are needed before the fitting process is complete.

The many types of contact lenses available can be grouped according to:

  • The material they are made of
  • How long you can wear them without removal
  • How long you can use them before they should be discarded
  • The design of the lens

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