Beyond 20/20: What an Eye Exam and Contact Lens Fitting Can Uncover

Regular eye exams and contact lens fittings are essential for maintaining optimal eye health and vision. While many people associate these appointments with simply checking their visual acuity, there is much more to them than meets the eye. In this article, we will explore what an eye exam and contact lens fitting can uncover, going beyond just the 20/20 vision measurement.

The Importance of Eye Exams

Eye exams are not just for individuals experiencing vision problems; they are vital for everyone, regardless of age or visual acuity. These comprehensive examinations are conducted by optometrists or ophthalmologists to evaluate various aspects of your eye health and detect any potential issues early on. Here are some key reasons why eye exams are important:

  1. Detecting Vision Problems: An eye exam can identify common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. By diagnosing these issues, appropriate corrective measures can be taken to improve vision and prevent further deterioration.
  • Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, causes distant objects to appear blurry. Farsightedness, or hyperopia, makes nearby objects difficult to focus on. Astigmatism results in distorted or blurry vision at any distance. Presbyopia is an age-related condition that affects near vision.

  • By detecting these vision problems, optometrists can prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses specifically tailored to correct these refractive errors. This ensures clear and comfortable vision for daily activities.

  1. Monitoring Eye Health: Eye exams also evaluate the overall health of your eyes. They can detect signs of eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Early detection allows for timely treatment and minimizes the risk of permanent vision loss.
  • Glaucoma is a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, leading to gradual vision loss. Cataracts cause clouding of the eye’s natural lens, resulting in blurred vision. Macular degeneration affects the central part of the retina, leading to loss of central vision. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes that damages blood vessels in the retina.

  • Regular eye exams enable early detection of these conditions, allowing for prompt intervention and management. Treatment options may include medications, surgery, or lifestyle changes to slow down disease progression and preserve vision.

  1. Assessing Binocular Vision: Binocular vision refers to the ability of the eyes to work together harmoniously. An eye exam can identify problems with eye teaming, tracking, and coordination, which can affect depth perception, eye strain, and overall visual comfort.
  • Eye teaming issues, such as strabismus or crossed eyes, can lead to double vision or difficulty in focusing. Eye tracking problems may cause difficulties in following moving objects smoothly. Poor eye coordination can result in eye fatigue and discomfort.

  • By assessing binocular vision, eye care professionals can recommend vision therapy or prescribe corrective lenses to improve eye coordination and alleviate symptoms. This ensures a more comfortable visual experience and reduces eye strain.

  1. Identifying Systemic Health Issues: The eyes can exhibit signs of certain systemic health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. During an eye exam, optometrists may observe abnormalities that can prompt further medical investigations.
  • High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can cause changes in the blood vessels of the retina. Diabetes can lead to diabetic retinopathy and other ocular complications. Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus may manifest as inflammation in the eyes.

  • By recognizing these ocular manifestations, eye care professionals can refer patients to the appropriate healthcare providers for further evaluation and management of these systemic conditions. Early detection and treatment of these conditions are crucial for overall health and well-being.

  1. Prescription Updates: Regular eye exams help determine if your current glasses or contact lens prescription needs to be adjusted. Vision changes over time, and an updated prescription ensures that your eyes are properly corrected for clear and comfortable vision.
  • Vision changes can occur gradually, and individuals may not realize that their current prescription is no longer providing optimal vision. Regular eye exams allow for the identification of any changes in vision and the prescription adjustment of eyeglasses or contact lenses accordingly.

  • By keeping prescription up to date, individuals can experience improved visual clarity and reduce eye strain. This is particularly important for those who rely on corrective lenses for daily activities such as reading, driving, or using digital devices.

The Contact Lens Fitting Process

If you are interested in wearing contact lenses, a contact lens fitting is crucial. This process involves more than just finding the right lens prescription; it also ensures a proper fit to maintain eye health and maximize comfort. Here is an overview of the contact lens fitting process:

  1. Baseline Eye Exam: Before a contact lens fitting, you will undergo a comprehensive eye exam to evaluate your ocular health and determine your initial prescription. This establishes a baseline for comparison throughout the fitting process.
  • The baseline eye exam involves assessing your visual acuity, checking for any refractive errors, and evaluating the overall health of your eyes. This exam helps identify any pre-existing conditions that may affect contact lens wear, such as dry eyes or corneal abnormalities.

  • The eye care professional will measure the curvature of your cornea and evaluate the size of your pupils. These measurements are essential for selecting the appropriate contact lens type and ensuring a proper fit.

  1. Discussion of Lifestyle and Needs: Your eye care professional will discuss your lifestyle, visual needs, and preferences to recommend the most suitable type of contact lenses. Factors such as daily disposable lenses, extended wear lenses, toric lenses for astigmatism, or multifocal lenses for presbyopia will be considered.
  • Lifestyle considerations include factors such as work environment, outdoor activities, and hobbies. For example, if you spend long hours in front of a computer, contact lenses with features like moisture retention or UV protection may be recommended.

  • Visual needs and preferences vary among individuals. Some may prioritize convenience and prefer daily disposable lenses, while others may require lenses that can be worn continuously for an extended period. The eye care professional will take these factors into account when recommending the most appropriate contact lenses for you.

  1. Measurement of Eye Curvature: To ensure a proper fit, the curvature of your eye’s front surface (cornea) will be measured using a keratometer or a specialized topographer. This helps determine the base curve of the contact lenses.
  • The base curve is the curve of the contact lens that matches the curvature of your cornea. It is crucial for achieving a comfortable fit and proper alignment of the lens on the eye.

  • By accurately measuring the curvature of your cornea, the eye care professional can select contact lenses with the appropriate base curve, ensuring optimal vision and comfort.

  1. Trial Lenses and Evaluation: Trial contact lenses will be placed on your eyes to assess their fit, movement, and comfort. Your eye care professional will evaluate the lenses’ position and make any necessary adjustments to ensure optimal vision and comfort.
  • Trial lenses are typically worn for a specific period, allowing you to experience how they feel and perform in real-world conditions. During this time, the eye care professional will evaluate the fit of the lenses, their movement on the eye, and your subjective comfort.

  • Based on your feedback and the evaluation of the trial lenses, adjustments may be made to the lens parameters, such as the base curve, diameter, or material. This iterative process aims to find the best-fitting lenses for your eyes.

  1. Instruction on Lens Care and Handling: If you are new to wearing contact lenses, your eye care professional will provide comprehensive instructions on lens care, insertion, removal, and proper hygiene. Following these guidelines is crucial to prevent eye infections and complications.
  • Proper lens care and handling are essential for maintaining eye health and ensuring the longevity of the contact lenses. Instructions may include proper handwashing before handling lenses, using appropriate cleaning solutions, and adhering to recommended wearing schedules.

  • The eye care professional will demonstrate the correct techniques for inserting and removing contact lenses safely. They will also provide guidance on storing lenses, cleaning and disinfecting them, and replacing them according to the recommended schedule.

  1. Follow-Up Visits: After the initial fitting, you will have follow-up visits to evaluate the long-term performance of the lenses. These visits help address any concerns, assess the condition of your eyes, and make necessary modifications to your contact lens prescription.
  • Follow-up visits are crucial for monitoring the ongoing fit and performance of the contact lenses. The eye care professional will assess the health of your eyes, evaluate the comfort of the lenses, and address any issues or concerns.

  • Based on the findings during the follow-up visits, adjustments may be made to the contact lens prescription or recommendations provided for modifications in lens type or wearing schedule. These visits ensure that the contact lenses continue to meet your visual needs and maintain eye health.

Advancements in Contact Lens Technology

Contact lenses have come a long way in terms of comfort, convenience, and safety. Technological advancements have paved the way for various types of lenses to cater to different needs. Here are some notable advancements in contact lens technology:

  1. Silicone Hydrogel Lenses: These lenses allow more oxygen to reach the cornea, making them more comfortable for extended wear. They are highly breathable and beneficial for people with dry eyes or those who wear lenses for long durations.
  • Silicone hydrogel lenses have improved oxygen permeability compared to traditional hydrogel lenses. This enhanced breathability promotes better ocular health and reduces the risk of complications associated with prolonged lens wear.

  • Individuals with dry eyes often experience discomfort when wearing contact lenses. Silicone hydrogel lenses can help alleviate these symptoms by maintaining a moist environment on the ocular surface.

  1. Daily Disposable Lenses: These lenses offer the ultimate convenience as they are discarded after each use. They eliminate the need for cleaning solutions and reduce the risk of eye infections associated with improper lens maintenance.
  • Daily disposable lenses provide a fresh pair of lenses every day, minimizing the accumulation of debris, allergens, and microorganisms on the lens surface. This reduces the risk of complications such as contact lens-related infections or allergies.

  • The convenience of daily disposable lenses makes them an excellent option for individuals with busy lifestyles or those who prefer a hassle-free contact lens experience. They eliminate the need for lens cleaning and storage, simplifying the overall lens-wearing routine.

  1. Toric Lenses for Astigmatism: Astigmatism can now be effectively corrected with toric contact lenses. These lenses have different powers in different meridians to compensate for the irregular shape of the cornea.
  • Astigmatism occurs when the cornea or lens has an irregular shape, causing blurred or distorted vision at all distances. Toric contact lenses are designed to correct this refractive error by aligning with the specific meridians of the eye.

  • Toric lenses provide clear and stable vision for individuals with astigmatism, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of contact lens wear without compromising visual quality. They come in various designs, including soft toric lenses and rigid gas permeable toric lenses.

  1. Multifocal Lenses: Multifocal contact lenses provide clear vision at multiple distances, addressing presbyopia. They offer a convenient alternative to multifocal eyeglasses, allowing wearers to see both near and far without switching glasses.
  • Presbyopia is an age-related condition that affects the eye’s ability to focus on near objects. Multifocal contact lenses incorporate different optical powers, enabling individuals to see clearly at various distances without the need for reading glasses.

  • Multifocal lenses use innovative designs such as simultaneous vision or concentric rings to provide a range of focal distances. These lenses offer visual flexibility and convenience, accommodating the changing vision needs associated with presbyopia.


Beyond just measuring visual acuity, eye exams and contact lens fittings play a crucial role in maintaining optimal eye health and visual wellness. Regular eye exams detect vision problems, monitor eye health, and identify systemic health issues. Contact lens fittings ensure a proper fit, maximize comfort, and take advantage of advancements in contact lens technology. By prioritizing these appointments, you can uncover potential issues early on and enjoy clear, comfortable vision for years to come.


1. Why are eye exams important?

Eye exams are important because they can detect vision problems, monitor eye health, assess binocular vision, identify systemic health issues, and determine if your prescription needs to be updated.

2. What can eye exams detect?

Eye exams can detect common vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia. They can also detect eye diseases like glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Additionally, eye exams can identify problems with binocular vision and signs of systemic health conditions.

3. What is the contact lens fitting process?

The contact lens fitting process involves a baseline eye exam, a discussion of lifestyle and needs, measurement of eye curvature, trial lenses and evaluation, instruction on lens care and handling, and follow-up visits to evaluate long-term performance.

4. What are some advancements in contact lens technology?

Some advancements in contact lens technology include silicone hydrogel lenses for extended wear and dry eyes, daily disposable lenses for convenience and hygiene, toric lenses for astigmatism correction, and multifocal lenses for addressing presbyopia.