Why do I need a Doctor’s Prescription for Contact Lenses?

This is a question we get in the Optical very often. Many times, this question is followed by “I already know my prescription and the lenses I want. Can’t you just sell it to me?”. Generally, the answer is No. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Contact Lens Prescriptions are generally only valid for 1 year from the date prescribed. There are some exceptions to that law, but mainly 1 year is the expiry period.

2. When doctors are doing a Contact Lens exam and fitting, a lot of factors are taken into consideration when determining the correct Brand, Fit and Prescription Strength. For example, when the doctor does the Contact Lens Exam, they determine the overall health of your eyes and whether the environment is ideal for contact lenses. Along with the exam, the doctor will take measurements of your Cornea’s diameter and base curve, called your ‘K-Reading”. This will help in the selection of the best contact lens for fit and comfort.

    • “The contact lens fit is very important because this allows doctors to see how tight or loose the contact lens is on the cornea, or the front curve of the eye. If the contact lens is too tight, less oxygen is flowing into the cornea and the patient will be more prone to infections and corneal edema or swelling of the cornea. If the contact lens is too loose it may flip or rotate in the eye with eye rubbing and cause an abrasion. People may not realize that the fit of their lenses can change throughout their lives, and an annual check-up can determine if adjustments should be made.”  – Dr. Stephanie Cortes, OD

3. It is against the law for any practitioner to dispense contact lenses without a Valid prescription written by a doctor. Along with the prescription, the BRAND, Base Curve & Diameter must be written on the prescription along with the date the prescription was written.

4. The prescription for Contact Lenses generally expire 1 Year from the date written, unless it is otherwise specified by the doctor.

5. Obtaining a new prescription yearly for Contact Lenses is necessary because it is important to ensure the health of your eyes and the overall ocular environment is ideal for Contact Lenses. Many times, there are advancements in Contact Lens technology (thinner lenses, wetter lenses, wider range of prescriptions, etc.) that you would not be able to take advantage of unless you visit your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.

The best way to ensure you get the best Contact Lenses, that fit properly with a prescription that is customized and allows you to see your best, is to visit your Eye Doctor and inquire about a Contact Lens exam.

7 Replies to “Why do I need a Doctor’s Prescription for Contact Lenses?”

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