We now offer contact lens fittings for children. This service is provided by our pediatric optometrist, Dr. Nicole Storey, O.D. Children’s needs are different from adults. Many patients in our practice have strong prescriptions for glasses and may need extra attention in regard to contact lens selection and instruction.
While contact lenses have some important advantages over glasses, there will always be risks to wearing contacts. Patients need to be really careful and follow all cleaning and hygiene instructions. They also need to stop wearing contacts and call an eye doctor immediately if pain, redness, decrease vision or other worrisome symptoms occur. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this service.
The question of when a child is ready to attempt soft contact lenses is complicated, with many factors to consider. The appropriate age will vary from child to child, but in general contacts may be considered in the teenage years or even sooner in some circumstances.
A medical eye exam is the typical eye examination our providers perform. It involves a through evaluation of the function and structures of the eye. A medical eye exam is required before a contact lens fitting can be scheduled. The medical examination will determine if your child has any eye problems which may make them a poor candidate for contact lenses. The medical eye examination is typically billed under medical insurance. Sometimes, a refraction is performed (measuring the shape of the eye with consideration for glasses) and a glasses prescription is given on the same visit as the medical eye exam.
The soft contact lens fitting is a separate procedure which occurs on a different day than the medical eye exam. The fitting involves not only determining the prescription, but also selecting and evaluating the shape, size, and brand of the contact lenses. The contact lens fitting is billed separately from the medical eye examination and is not typically covered by medical insurance. Contact lens fittings may be covered with some vision insurance plans. However, given the higher medical acuity of the patients in our practice, our office does not generally participate with most vision plans. Therefore, the fee for the contact lens fitting at our office is generally billed directly to the patient. The cost is $145 for a new contact lens fitting, and $90 for a subsequent contact lens fitting.
An important aspect of the contact lens fitting is instruction and practice with insertion and removal of the contact lens. Patients need to be able to successfully insert and remove the contact lens in our office before we can let the patients go home with the contact lenses or write a prescription for the contact lenses. We do this for the safety of the patients. It sometimes takes several visits (which typically last between 30 to 60 minutes) to our office before a child can successful insert and remove the contact lens. Even after a few visits, some children can still not successfully insert and remove the contacts. In these cases, we typically suggest retrying in a year or so if desired.
If a patient does successfully demonstrate insertion and removal in the office, and the fit is good, a prescription for the contact lenses will be written. The contact prescription will include the brand, shape, size and power of the contact lens. That is the end of the contact lens fitting process. Our office does not stock the actual supply of contact lenses. Purchasing the actual lenses may be done at a local optical shop or online. Vision insurance may cover a portion of the expense of the contact lenses.
Cataract surgery typically involves the removal of a patient's natural lens. Sometimes an artificial lens (IOL) can be placed in the eye. Other times, the patient is left without a lens in the eye (aphakia). In some cases, contact lenses provide an excellent option to correct vision in aphakic infants and children. In these cases, the contact lens fitting is medically necessary and different from a standard contact lens fitting. Billing for aphakic contact lens related services is different than standard contact lens fitting and reflects the greater complexity and medical necessity of contacts for aphakia.