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Can You Wear Contacts Before an Eye Exam?

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Woman putting in contact lens into her eye

Contact lenses come with numerous benefits, but they work a little differently than eyeglasses. For instance, it’s easy to simply remove your glasses before seeing your eye doctor for an eye exam—but you can’t always just do the same with contact lenses.

So when can you wear contact lenses to an eye exam, and when should you take them out beforehand? This will depend on the type of eye exam you’re having, for example:

  • Routine eye exam—take out your contact lenses 2 hours prior to seeing the eye doctor
  • Contact lens exam and follow-up—wear your contacts lenses for your eye doctor to asses the fit, function, and comfort

When in doubt, it’s always best to be prepared and bring your glasses along with you to your eye exam. Read on and learn more about what we recommend for patients who wear contact lenses when they visit our practice.

Not All Eye Exams Are the Same

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that not all eye exams involve the same steps. Routine eye exams for adults aren’t quite the same as follow-up appointments after contact lens exams, and there are different rules about how to prepare for each.

Routine Eye Exams

Routine eye exams are intended to assess the overall health of your eyes and diagnose any vision or ocular health issues for which you may be at risk. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends that adults with no known vision or eye health problems visit their eye doctor for these exams once in their 20s, twice in their 30s, and as recommended by their optometrist after age 40.

Contact Lens Exams & Follow-Up Appointments

Contact lens exams typically include everything in a routine eye exam but also have a few extra steps. Their purpose is to help patients find suitable contact lenses for their eyes and vision needs. After being fit for contact lenses at these exams, patients usually have to schedule several follow-up appointments with their eye doctor, during which they will check to make sure the lenses still fit and function properly.

Young girl putting on contact lenses at optometrist office

When to Wear Contacts (& When Not To)

In most cases, the type of eye exam you’re getting determines whether or not you should wear your contact lenses. Here’s our advice:

Don’t Wear Contacts to Routine Eye Exams

For a routine eye exam to be effective, your eye doctor needs to be able to see how your eyes function by themselves. Having your lenses in during the exam can make it harder for them to determine the prescription you need.

How Long Should I Leave My Contact Lenses Out Before an Eye Test?

If you are going for a routine eye exam, it’s best to remove your contact lenses at least 2 hours before your scheduled appointment. That way, your eyes will have plenty of time to adjust back to their normal state before the exam begins, and your eye doctor will be able to examine them accurately.

Finally, even though you shouldn’t wear them, make sure you bring your contact lenses with you to the exam. This will help your doctor replace them more efficiently if necessary.

Do Wear Contacts to Contact Lens Exam Follow-Ups

You obviously won’t be able to wear contacts if your appointment is to get fitted for your first pair—but you should wear them to any required follow-up exams afterward. That’s because those follow-up exams are designed specifically to assess the comfort and effectiveness of your lenses, so your eye doctor needs to see them in action.

Arriving at a contact lens follow-up exam with your lenses in will also let your eye doctor see whether or not you’ve been wearing them properly. If you haven’t been, your eye doctor will be able to tell you what you can do to make the best possible use of your lenses.

Take Proper Care of Your Contacts (& Your Eyes)

Knowing when you should (and shouldn’t) wear contact lenses before an eye exam helps your eye doctor get the right information to help keep your eyes healthy and vision strong.

For more questions about contact lenses and how to wear or care for them, contact Foothill Optometric Group today and speak with an experienced member of our team who can answer your questions. Visit us for your next comprehensive eye exam or contact lens fitting and examination.

Written by Total Vision

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