Contact Lens Prescriptions Tips

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Determining What Style of Contact Lens You Have

If your contact lens prescription contains numbers for a cylinder (cyl) and axis you require toric or gas permeable contact lenses. If your prescription does NOT contain a cylinder or axis component you had a spherical style of prescription, which means you do not need correction for an astigmatism.


Contact Lens Prescription Expiration

Most contact lens prescriptions are valid for at least one year. This may differ slightly according from state to state. Your eye care professional may also choose to shorten the length of your prescription if you have any conditions that put you at a high risk for infections or complications.


Scheduling your Exam

When you schedule your contact lens examination remember to mention that you also need a contact lens fitting. Doctors often allot more time for contact lens examinations.


Preparing for a Contact Lens Follow-up

When visiting your eye care provider for a contact lens follow-up wear your contact lenses for at least 3 to 4 hours prior to the visit if possible. This will assure that your eye care provider is able to properly evaluate the fit and comfort of your lenses.

What do the letters BC mean on my contact lens prescription?

Contact Lens Base Curve

Base Curve, or BC, values range from about 8.0 to 9.5. The doctor fits the lens with the curvature most appropriate for your eye. Most disposable contact lenses come in several different base curve values. If your prescription does not contain a base curve value, this is likely because your brand of lens only comes in one base curve.
base curve values are a bit like clothes sizes - just because you are a base curve 8.6 in one brand of contact lenses doesn't mean you will be in another.

What does Base Curve (BC) mean?

Base Curve

The base curve (BC) is a part of your contact lens prescription. It relates to the curvature of your eye and typically is a measurement in the range 8.0 to 9.5. Your doctor measures the curvature of your eye during your contact lens exam and chooses the base curve for your contacts appropriately.

How does the new Federal Contact Lenses Law affect me?

New Law on Contact Lens Prescriptions

On February 4th this year, a new Federal Law called the “Fairness To Contact Lens Consumers” act went into effect. This law made it much easier for you to enjoy the savings and convenience of ordering on-line.

Your doctor is required to release your prescription once the fitting is complete (this may include the initial exam and one or more follow-up visits). Your doctor is not required to release an expired prescription and in any case we would be unable to dispense contacts from an expired prescription. Some doctors are more ready to comply with local laws than others.

What is the difference between + and - powers on my prescription?

Plus Powers & Minus Powers

Your contact lens precription contains a parameter called power (or sphere). This is the vision correction applied by the contact lens. If you are far-sighted, this number will be positive, eg +1.5,. if you are near-sighted this number will be negative -, eg -2.5.

Is a contact lens prescription different than a glasses prescription?

Contact Lens Prescriptions vs. Eyeglass Prescriptions

A contact lens prescription is very different than an eyeglass prescription. In addition to the lens power, your contact lens prescription contains several other pieces of information related to the size of the lens. These will include base curve, diameter, power, and experation date. Toric and bifocal contact lenses also contain more numbers specific to those types of lenses.


Do I Need a Prescription for Contacts?

Contact lenses are regulated like prescription medications- you MUST have a prescription to buy contact lenses. Even contact lenses for fashion only (those with no prescription in them) legally require a written prescription.

How long is a contact lens prescription good for?

Contact Lens Prescription Expiration

A contact lens prescription is generally good for at least a year from the date it was issued - more in some states. However, your doctor can expire your prescription in less than a year if there are documented medical reasons why a shorter period is necessary. You must always provide a valid prescription for Prescription Contacts.


Why Does a Contact Exam Cost more than an Eyeglass Exam?

Contact prescriptions require additional measurements above and beyond the traditional eyeglass lens exam measurements. Often eye care providers include follow-visits and contact lens refitting in the cost of a contact lens exam. Toric and gas permeable contacts are the most difficult lenses to fit and require more re-checks than a standard contact prescription, so exams for these types of contacts are frequently a few dollars more than a standard contact lens exam.


Obtaining a Copy of your Contact Lens Prescription

As of 2004 your eye care provider is required by law to release a copy of your contact lens prescription to you. Your doctor may, however, require you to come in for a follow-up visit before releasing your prescription. Often there is no charge for this follow-up. The follow-up visit is important to assure that your lenses are fitted properly.

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