Specialist contact lens fitting

Shehzad A. Naroo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review


What is meant by the term ‘specialist contact lens fitting’? Or put another way, what would be considered non-specialist contact lens fitting? Is there such a thing as routine contact lens fitting? Soft or silicone hydrogel fitting for daily wear would probably be considered as routine contact lens fitting, but would extended or flexible wear remain in the same category or would they be considered a specialist fit? Different eras will classify different products as being ‘specialist’. Certainly twenty years ago soft toric contact lenses were considered as being speciality lenses but today would be thought of as routine lenses. Conversely, gas permeable lenses were thought of as mainstream twenty years ago but now are considered as speciality lenses. Although this would not be the same globally, as in some countries (such as Netherlands, France and Japan) gas permeable lens fitting remains popular and is not on the decline as in other countries (Canada, Australia and Sweden) [1].

Bandage soft lenses applied after surface laser refractive procedures would be considered as therapeutic lenses but in reality they are just plano thin hydrogel lenses worn constantly for 3–4 days to allow the underlying epithelium to convalesce and are then removed [2]. Some patients find that wearing hydrogel lenses during periods when they suffer from seasonal allergies actually improves their ocular comfort as the contact lens acts as a barrier to the allergen [3] and [4]. Scleral lenses have long been considered speciality lenses, apart from a time when they were the only lenses available but at that time all contact lens work would have been considered speciality practice! Nowadays we see the advent of mini-scleral designs and we see large diameter gas permeable lenses too. It is possible that these lenses increase the popularity of gas permeable lenses again and they become more main stream.

So it would seem that the lines between routine and speciality contact lens fitting are not clear. Whether a lens is classed a specialist fit or not would depend on the lens type, why it was fitted, where in the world the fitting was being done and even the era in which it was fitted. This begs the question as to what would be considered entry level knowledge in contact lens fitting. This may not be an issue for most BCLA members or CLAE readers but certainly would be for bodies such as the College of Optometrists (UK) or the Association of British Dispensing Opticians when they are planning the final registration examinations for budding practitioners or when planning the level of higher level qualifications such as College Certificates or Diplomas. Similarly for training institutions when they are planning their course content. This becomes even trickier when trying to devise a qualification that spans across many countries, like the European Diploma in Optometry and Optics. How do we know if the training and examination level is correct? One way would be to analyse things when they go wrong and if patterns of malpractice are seen then maybe that could be used as an indicator to more training being needed. There were 162 Fitness to Practice Hearing at the General Optical Council between 2001 and 2010. Forty-seven of these were clinically related case, 39 fraud related, and 76 others. Of the clinical ones only 3 were contact lens related. So it would appear that as whole, in the profession, contact lens clinical skills are not being questioned too often (although it seems a few of us can’t keep our hands out the cookie jar!).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105
Number of pages1
JournalContact Lens and Anterior Eye
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Contact lens and anterior eye. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Naroo, SA, 'Specialist contact lens fitting' Contact lens and anterior eye, vol 36, no. 3 (2012) DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clae.2013.03.004


  • accreditation
  • contact lenses
  • Great Britain
  • professional competence
  • prosthesis fitting
  • specialization


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