A common question we get asked by our patients is: "Why do I need a contact lens evaluation? You're prescribing the same lens as last year so why do I have to pay for the "contact lens fit"? Everything feels fine." It's a fair question and at first glance it would seem that if nothing has changed, why the need for an exam. There are several reasons why an evaluation is required every year. When a patient is inserting an extensively designed piece of plastic on their eye, it's essential to assess the fit of the contacts on the eye as well as its effect on the health of the cornea. There's an ever changing interaction between the eye, the contacts, and the environment. Dryness, deposits, oxygen deprivation, allergies, solution toxicity, infectious agents are some of the risks we are evaluating at every visit. Even though there are times when something is obviously wrong with the health of the eyes, conditions that are chronic or are below the surface are not very noticeable and can only be assessed by an exam. This is especially true if contacts are used daily for long periods of time or worn overnight.
We understand that patients don't want to pay for something they feel is unneeded, but we would suggest that one contact lens exam a year to ensure continued good health and to be educated on how best to use contacts is a necessary and wise investment. A contact lens is technically categorized by the FDA as a medical device and by law the prescription needs to be renewed yearly. But the more important point is to have an annual eye exam so we can help our patients keep their eyes healthy and comfortable for long term contact lens use.