Diagnostic contact lenses for ophthalmic examination

3 October 2005
Volume 06, Issue 4

The uses and advantages of common contact lenses.


We are fortunate that the eye can readily be examined both externally and internally with the globe intact. In contrast to other medical disciplines, eye care professionals may view internal structures of the eye using relatively simple, non-invasive instrumentation. As the optometric profession plays an increasingly essential role in the detection and management of ocular abnormalities, it is important that practitioners are equipped with a broad skill set and a range of instrumentation. Practitioners are familiar with the head-mounted indirect ophthalmoscope and non-contact indirect biomicroscopic lenses for use at the slit lamp. Many optometrists elect to use one or both of these techniques in addition or in preference to direct ophthalmoscopy. At present uncommon in optometric practice, direct and indirect contact lenses offer an alternative means of ophthalmic examination. Our medical colleagues use contact lenses routinely for diagnosis and treatment and there are clear reasons for doing so. The main advantages of contact lenses, compared with noncontact lenses, include: (1) the improved image quality (Bock 1977); (2) the ability to view more of the fundus and in particular the peripheral fundus (Lobes et al. 1981); and (3) the ability to view the internal anterior segment and, specifically, the anterior chamber angle (Fankhauser et al. 1996, Ritch 1985). Although contact lenses will not displace the more traditional methods of examination, they may be a useful addition to an optometrist’s repertoire. The purpose of this paper is to review the optics of direct and indirect-viewing devices, to consider applicable designs of common contact lenses and to outline their uses and advantages. 

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