Has your child expressed an interest in wearing contact lenses? Here’s everything you need to know to make an informed choice about going from glasses to contacts.
If your child has asked for contacts, you might have some questions: What age is the right age for a child to start wearing contacts, and how can you know if your son or daughter is truly ready for contacts? Also, is it safe for kids to wear contacts?
There’s actually not a recommended age. In fact, whether or not a child should start wearing contacts has more to do with other factors, including vision correction needs, motivation level and maturity.
Here are some things to consider:
Do they handle other responsibilities well?
If your child has shown to be good at taking care of his or her own hygiene and if they already wear glasses and take good care of them, then those are good indicators that they would be responsible contact lens wearers.
Younger children (ages 8 to 12) are often more responsible with contacts than teenagers, and once they learn how and have a little practice, don’t have trouble putting in or removing the contacts on their own.
Are they self-conscious about how they look in glasses?
A number of studies have looked at the effect of glasses on everything from self-confidence to self-perception in areas of social acceptance, physical appearance, academic competence and athletic abilities. It’s probably not surprising that these studies have found that wearing contacts boosts how kids see themselves in many areas.
Do they play sports?
There are a lot of benefits of contact lenses for kids who play sports, and contact lens wear can often be safer than certain types of eyeglasses. That’s because glasses can break or get bumped and injure eyes during contact sports. Even if your child wears sport glasses, they can experience fogging and discomfort, or the glasses may shift around during play.
Contacts have better optics and can provide clearer vision and better peripheral vision, which may be a priority, especially if your kid is pretty competitive. One study found that children who wear contact lenses felt better about their athletic ability.
Are they very nearsighted?
For some kids, contacts can slow myopia progression. There are a few different types of contacts, including specially designed gas permeable contact lenses and multifocal soft contacts, that can significantly slow the progression of nearsightedness.
Which Types of Contacts Are Best for Kids?
Your child’s eye doctor is ultimately the best resource when it comes to helping you make decisions about contact lenses. He or she will evaluate your child, conduct a contact lens exam and fitting to get the right prescription, and will train you and child in how to use the contacts.
Here are some of the contact types often recommended for children:
Daily disposables: This can be the best choice, because your child will wear a new pair of contacts every day, discarding them before they go to bed. Dailies can minimize the risk of infections and other common problems that can come with wearing contacts and can be the most comfortable, but they are often on the more expensive side.
Weekly disposables: These durable soft contact lenses are made to be worn for one week or two weeks (depending on the manufacturer) before being thrown away. Your child will take them out each night, disinfect them with contact solution, then store them in a case until morning.
Rigid gas permeable (RGP): These contacts are known as hard lenses, and are sometimes the best option if your child has a complex vision condition. However, they can be tough to adapt to and are generally less comfortable than soft contacts.
Can your child still wear glasses after they’ve started wearing contacts?
Definitely, and it’s recommended that children still have glasses in their current prescription in case they get an eye infection or have allergies that prevent them from wearing contacts. Having glasses handy can also be helpful for travel or for seeing after taking contacts out at night.
Do you think your child is ready for contacts? Call us to schedule an exam and to learn more about contact lenses and kids.