The Difference Between a Vision Care Exam and a Contact Lens Fitting

You likely know that you should receive a vision care exam at least once every two years, unless otherwise suggested by your doctor. But did you know that if you’re going to wear contact lenses, you’ll need a separate eye exam? It’s true! A contact lens fitting differs from your vision care exam. We’ve broken down what you can expect at each.

Vision Care Exam

Your vision care exam will cover the following areas:

  • Medical history

Have you had any vision issues recently? Is there a history of vision problems in the family? Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will likely ask about your overall health, as well

  • Visual acuity

To put it simply—the eye chart. The part of the eye exam most people are familiar with.

  • Eye function

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist will check a variation of eye functions to ensure proper eye health. This should include pupillary reaction, side vision and eye movement.

  • Retina and optic nerve

To check your retina and optic nerve, your optometrist or ophthalmologist will dilate your eyes (using a drop) so that they are able to see in the back of the eye.


Contact Lens Exam

As mentioned, your visual acuity will be determined during your vision care exam. If it is determined that you have a refractive error that can be corrected with contact lenses, you will need the contact lens fitting exam, to ensure the lens fits properly on your eye. Contact lenses are not one size fits all! What will be assessed during this exam?

  • Cornea measurements

Your doctor will use a keratometer to measure the curvature of your cornea (the clear front surface of your eye). These measurements help your doctor choose the proper curve and size of your contact lenses.

  • Pupil and iris measurements

Acquiring your pupil and iris measurements help your doctor choose contact lenses that will fit and rest well on your eye. The measurements can be taken with a ruler, or the advanced automated tool.

The contact lens fitting exam may require a follow-up visit or two. It’s important that you find a lens that fits properly, is comfortable and provides clear vision. Once that’s found, your doctor can write you a contact lens prescription.

The information contained above is intended to be educational in nature, does not constitute medical advice, and should not be relied on as a substitute for actual professional medical advice, care or treatment. If you have any vision, dental or other health related concerns, VBA encourages you to immediately contact your optometrist/ophthalmologist, dentist/orthodontist or any other competent, licensed, medical professional.