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Contact Lenses

Whether you already wear contact lenses or are considering them, this section serves as a primer. Facts and statistics about contact lens wearers, pointers for safe and successful use of contact lenses, and contact lenses and cosmetics are just a few of the topics covered here.

Getting started right with your contact lenses involves going to a doctor who provides full-service care. This includes a thorough eye examination, an evaluation of your suitability for contact lens wear, the lenses, necessary lens care kits, individual instructions for wear and care and unlimited follow-up visits over a specified time.

Recommendations for Contact Lens Wearers

Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.

1. Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your optometrist. Rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution to completely cover the lens.

2. Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace the case at a minimum of every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.

3. Use only products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.

4. Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses. Never re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, even if the lenses are not used daily.

5. Always follow the recommended contact lens replacement schedule prescribed by your optometrist.

6. Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.

7. See your optometrist for your regularly scheduled contact lens and eye examination.

Q. Can I get a copy of my contact lens prescription?

A. Yes. If you request a contact lens prescription, your eye doctor will give you a copy once a contact lens fitting has been completed. The only time your optometrist might not give you a copy upon request is if there is an eye health reason not to, if the fitting has not been completed, or if monies are owed to the doctor.

Q. How is a “Contact Lens Fitting” different from a regular eye exam?

A. A regular eye exam is a comprehensive analysis of your visual and eye health systems. It does not include any of the contact lens fitting process. Additional measurements of the eye and more extensive evaluation of corneal health must be done before a contact lens fitting is completed. One of the steps in arriving at an accurate contact lens prescription is placing diagnostic lenses on your eyes and evaluating how they fit and how well you see. To insure the safety and health of your eyes, your doctor will most likely require one or more follow up visits after you’ve worn the lenses for a period of time before the final contact lens prescription is determined.

Q. Do I have to have a prescription to get contact lenses?

A. Yes. Federal and state law require a valid prescription from your eye doctor before any contact lens can be dispensed. Even lenses that just change your eye color require a valid contact lens prescription.

Q. Why can‘t contact lenses be sold without a prescription?

A. Contact lenses are a medical device which need monitoring by your eye doctor. Although the risk of complication to an individual patient is small, it is real. 6% of contact lens wearers will have a complication annually. It is important that diagnosis and treatment of complications happen rapidly to prevent vision loss

Q. My doctor told me that I need to come in every year for an eye examination since I wear contact lenses. Why do I need an annual eye exam if I am not having any problems?

A. It is important that contact lens patients be seen at least once a year by their eye doctor. Annual eye health evaluations by your eye doctor can pick up small problems with your eyes or vision that you can’t feel or see. Unlike glasses, contact lenses are foreign objects that rest and move around on the surface of the eye, therefore there is a higher potential for serious eye problems. Additionally, changes in your health, medications, home or work environment can affect the way a contact lens interacts with your eye health.

Q. Where can I buy my contact lenses?

A. You can purchase your contact lenses from any optometrist, physician or pharmacist. You may also purchase contact lenses from an optician or similar business which holds a valid contact lens permit issued by the Texas Department of Health. You will need a written contact lens prescription to purchase contact lenses from anyone other than the doctor who prescribes your contact lenses. Your doctor may also fax or email your prescription to a licensed dispenser for you. If you would like more information about what the Federal Drug Administration (FDA)says about contact lens safety, please see: Federal Drug Administration.

Q. Can I get a second copy of my contact lens prescription?

A. Yes. Your eye doctor will generally be happy to give you a second copy of your prescription if you have misplaced your original. However, the replacement copy will most likely have the same expiration date as the original. If the prescription has expired, your doctor will probably require you to have a check up before giving you a new prescription though he or she may be able to provide you with a short term prescription so you can get enough extra lenses to last you until your next exam.

Q. Can my doctor fax, email or phone in a copy of my prescription?

A. Generally, you need an original, signed prescription; however, your eye doctor may fax or email your prescription to another optometrist, physician, pharmacist, optician or other business with a valid contact lens permit. In cases of an emergency, a doctor may call in a contact lens prescription to an optometrist, physician, pharmacist or business holding a valid contact lens dispensing permit.

Q. Do I always have to have a “follow up visit” before I can get my contact lens prescription?

A. No. If your eye doctor is not changing your existing prescription, then you may not need a follow up visit before your eye doctor can write a contact lens prescription. However, there are reasons you will need a follow up: if you are a new patient to your eye doctor, or your previous contact lens prescription is not known, or you have never worn contact lenses, or your eye doctor determines that it is in your best interest to change your contact lens prescription. And, of course, if you’re having difficulties with your eyes, vision or contact lenses, you will want to see your eye doctor for a follow up.

Q. Can my eye doctor refuse to release my prescription?

A. Yes. Under certain circumstances, your eye doctor may refuse to release your contact lens prescription. These reasons include: your eye health prevents you from wearing contact lenses, the release of your contact lens prescription might endanger your eye health, further monitoring is needed before the contact lens prescription should be released, or you have not paid your eye examination or contact lens fitting fees.

Q. Does my contact lens prescription expire?

A. Yes. Contact lens prescriptions just like any other prescription will have an expiration date. The expiration date will be one year or more from the date that the contact lens prescription was determined, unless your eye doctor believes that a short-term prescription is necessary for your eye health. If your eye doctor issues a contact lens prescription for less than one year, he or she will tell you the reason why it is necessary, and will write that reason in your record.

Q. Can my eye doctor extend my contact lens prescription past the expiration date?

A. Yes. Your eye doctor may extend your contact lens prescription past the expiration date without completing another eye examination if your doctor believes it is in your best interest. However, the standard of care, as described in the preferred clinical practices of the American Optometric Association (AOA) and the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists (CLAO) recommends routine follow up of all healthy contact lens patients on a six to twelve month basis. Therefore, it is common that your eye doctor will want to see you at least once a year before extending your contact lens prescription. However, at your request, your eye doctor will, at least one time, issue a two-month extension.

Q. What if I don‘t want to buy a whole year‘s supply of contact lenses at one time?

A. If you order fewer than the total number of lenses authorized by your contact lens prescription, then the contact lens dispenser must note on the original prescription the number of lenses dispensed, he or she must maintain a photocopy of the original prescription, and must return the original prescription to you so that you may buy the remaining lenses anywhere you wish.

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