What is a corneal evaluation?
A corneal evaluation is a detailed examination of the cornea of the eye. It is done for people who wear contacts to make sure the eye is getting the proper amount of oxygen.
What tests are involved in the corneal evaluation?
The doctor can examine the cornea with a very high powered microscope to look for subtle signs that the cornea is not getting enough oxygen. The doctor will also look for “staining” which indicates a breakdown in the top layer of the cornea or “epithelium”. If this epithelium were to break down then organisms and bacteria can get into the eye and cause infections and sight threatening problems. The doctor also looks for neovascularization of the cornea or lid margin, meibomian obstruction, abnormal tear film or other problems. Corneal topography is another example of a test done for contact lens wearers. With this computerized data we can detect any undesirable changes of the cornea caused by wearing contact lens.
I’ve been wearing contacts for years and have no problems. Why do I need these tests?
Prolonged contact lens wear is known to result in decreased corneal sensitivity. This means the eye feels great even if there are defects in the cornea. If someone wears contacts all day, the contact lens acts as a “bandage” against surface discomfort caused by problems with the cornea. It is especially important to evaluate the cornea of someone who has worn contacts for years, even if they are not experiencing any noticeable problems. Patients’ who have worn contacts for a long time, often demonstrate significant amounts of staining while reporting no symptoms whatsoever.
What happens if my corneal health is compromised?
Any break in the protective outer layer of the cornea offers the chance for organisms and bacterial and inflammatory cells to enter the cornea. “Staining” which the doctors look for is the best early clinical indicator of these breaks in the cornea. In this situation other organisms even the kind that are on your fingertips can get into the cornea and cause infection or other sight threatening eye damage.
Doesn’t my insurance cover contact lens professional fees?
Most insurance plans cover a routine eye exam which determines your glasses prescription and evaluates your eye health. Contact lens services are separate procedures that often are not covered by insurance.
How much does it cost?
For non-specialty contact lenses, the cost ranges from $50 to $250 annually.