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Why do I need to see the doctor once a year for contacts?


“Why are contact lens prescriptions only good for one year? This seems to force me back to the eye doctor every year. Shouldn’t I only have to return when I think my eyesight is starting to bother me?”

This is a great question! First and foremost, contact lens prescriptions are only good for one year because that is North Dakota state law (century code 56-02-04-03) that optometrists must follow. But laws aside, what really is a contact lens? It’s a medical device regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It makes perfect sense that you need to see your optometrist on a regular basis to continue receiving this prescription for a medical device.

Contact lens wear carries risks.

While complications don’t always occur, they are possible with contact lens wear. You could be at risk for eye infections, corneal ulcers, punctate keratitis, or worse, scarring that results in permanent vision loss. Contact lenses are nothing to take lightly! That contact lens sits directly on your cornea, which is a very sensitive and important tissue. Contact lenses deserve our attention and our respect.

Contacts are not “one size fits all”.

Each and every time you visit your optometrist for your yearly eye exam, we take extra steps to evaluate your contact lenses — even if we aren’t changing the brand. We’ll always make sure the lens is still properly fitting your cornea. Contact lenses come in different curves and different diameters, so the appropriate lens needs to be selected for your individual eyes. In addition, your eyeglasses prescription is usually not the same as the contact lens prescription. So the correct prescription will need to be checked each time to ensure the contact lenses are still accurate.

But most importantly, your ocular health is examined each time you see your optometrist. Just because your eyes were healthy enough for contact lens wear last year, doesn’t mean that things can’t change. It is pertinent to have your ocular health checked every single year if you are going to wear contact lenses.

Your optometrist is your resource

Rather than allowing yourself feel “forced” to returned to your optometrist once a year, think of your optometrist as your ally and resource. With their help, you can ensure your eyes remain healthy enough for continued contact lens wear for the course of your lifetime. Let us help you be successful with your contacts!



Top image property of Vision Source Mandan and is not to be used without written permission.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.