OHSU

Contact Lenses

Casey Eye Institute has specialists in every aspect of eye care, including contact lenses. At the Contact Lens Service, we are often successful at perscribing contact lenses for patients who have previously been unsuccessful in wearing contact lenses. We offer:

  • A wide variety and selection of lenses
  • Elective contact lens assessment and examination
  • Medically necessary contact lens assessment and examination
  • Specialists available for complex eye care if necessary

As part of Oregon Health & Science University, we are on the cutting edge of research, and are among the first to receive new instruments and products.

Make an Appointment

To make your appointment, please call 503 494-7672 during business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) and we'd be happy to schedule an appointment for your evaluation. Our office is located at the Portland South Waterfront location of Casey Eye Institute (bottom of the tram) on the 11th floor. 

When you call, tell the scheduling staff you'd like to be assessed for contact lenses wear and let them know whether you currently wear contacts. If yes, we'll need to know if they're gas permeable or soft lenses. If you used to wear contact lenses but haven't worn them for a while, let us know that, too. If you have had an eye exam recently, bring the record of the exam to your appointment so we don't have to repeat the full exam. If you haven't had a recent exam, or if you can't get the records from your exam, you'll need a full exam in addition to the contact lens assessment.

Bring your contacts and glasses to your exam, and bring any recent glasses or contact prescriptions you may have. If you wear soft lenses, wear the contacts to the exam, and bring your glasses. If you wear rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, you may wear them to the exam.

 

What to expect at your appointment

Examination

You need to have a recent vision exam, which you may receive through the Casey Eye Institute's Comprehensive Ophthalmology service or with your regular eye doctor. Generally this exam should include dilation, in which special eye drops are used to enlarge the pupils so the eye doctor can examine the health of the back of the eye.

The standard dilation can cause your vision to be blurry for several hours. Most, but not all people are able to safely drive themselves home with dilated eyes. You won't know how blurry your vision will be until after your eyes are dilated, so it's safest to have a ride arranged.

Diagnosis

The doctor will tell you if you need vision correction. You may be myopic (nearsighted), hyperopic (farsighted), astigmatic, presbyopic, or anisometropic. Contact lenses can be used to correct these conditions for most people.

Glasses Prescription

You can get a glasses prescription at your vision exam. This is the starting point for your contact lens prescription. The shape of the cornea (front of eye) is also an important measurement, as is the health of the eyes.

Contact Lens Fitting

The contact lens specialist may use your glasses prescription as a starting point to determine what type and power of contact lenses are best for your vision. You may be persribed gas permeable or soft lenses, depending on your prescription and visual needs. Both soft and gas permeable can correct for astigmatism (toric lenses) and for presbyopia (multifocal or monovision lenses), in addition to near and far sightedness. With soft lenses, the more often the lenses are replaced, the healthier for your eyes. Most patients are fit in disposable lenses. Some people see better with contact lenses than they do with glasses--for others, it's the opposite. Some patients may require glasses in addition to their contact lenses.

Many patients can get lenses on the day of the initial exam. The lenses are placed on your eyes and the contact lens specialist will evaluate the health of the fit, the clarity of vision, and the comfort. Generally, you then evaluate the lenses in "real life" for a week or more to ensure vision and comfort is appropriate, and then return for a follow-up visit (wearing your lenses), at which the contact lens specialist will again evaluate the lenses for a healthy fit.

Be sure to put the lenses in at least an hour or two prior to the visit, so the lenses are stable and the most accurate assessment can be made. If you are a new wearer of contact lenses, we will teach you how to apply, remove and care for your lenses before we send you home.

Contact Lens Prescription

The contact lens prescription cannot be written until after this process is completed. Since contacts are applied to your eyes, the contact lens specialist must evaluate them on your eyes. 

The initial contact lens tried is the lens based on the glasses prescription and shape of the cornea (front of eye). The final contact lens that the prescription is written for is the one that worked well for you in "real life." Sometimes this is the same lens, but not always. More complicated prescriptions may take several visits and various diagnostic lenses before the prescription is finalized.

Why Glasses and Contact Lens Prescriptions are not the same

Your glasses prescription is the starting place in determining the correct contact lens prescription, but the two prescriptions are not the same. You cannot use a contact lens prescription to get glasses, and you cannot use a glasses prescription to get contact lenses. 

The contact lenses rest on the surface of the eyes. These lenses must be assessed and the fit must be evaluated with the lenses on the eyes to be assured that the lenses are a healthy fit. The contact lens prescription cannot be finalized until the fit is determined to be healthy.

The numbers on the glasses prescription and contact lens prescription may be very different, especially if you have a higher prescription. This is simply due to optical mathematics.

Follow-up Care

When you wear contact lenses, you need to have an eye exam at least once a year, or more often if recommended by your doctor. This is because, unlike glasses, contact lenses rest directly on the eye, and may affect the health of your eyes.

Read Contact Lenses 101: An Overview for detailed information about contact lenses.