Is My Child Ready for Contact Lenses?
There are the kids who love glasses and how they look in them, and there are kids who would prefer not to have to wear them. No matter the person, at some point or another, contact lenses may become a topic of conversation. Here are some readiness tips and age-appropriate considerations to help you decide if your child is ready to wear contact lenses.
Kids mature at different ages, and being responsible is an essential part of successful and safe contact lens wear. Four million children under the age of 18 wear contacts, so you know a child’s eyes can tolerate lenses. The question is whether or not they can safely take care of them.
Things to consider are whether or not your child can insert and remove the lenses without significant difficulty. The optician dispensing the lenses will teach them, but your child must be mature enough to take over when they get home. Contact lenses are more expensive than glasses, and the last thing you want to do is have a child frustrated with trying to take out or put in contact lenses. Your child should also be motivated enough to take care of them properly. Here are some tips to consider for safe contact lens wear and to help you determine if contacts are right for your child:
- Never wear someone else’s contact lenses. Susie may have a similar prescription to your child, but that is not the only way contacts are prescribed. The curvature of the eye plays a significant role in the proper fit. Wearing the wrong size can result in a corneal ulcer.
- Red, irritated eyes? Wear glasses. Never wear contact lenses if the eye is irritated, as this may be a sign of an infection. Call the eye doctor instead.
- Seasonal allergies? Contacts may be more trouble than it is worth. If your child has seasonal allergies, contacts can trap allergens on the cornea, which can be very irritating. Consider allergy testing and immunotherapy before contact lenses.
- Always wash hands before removing, cleaning, or inserting contacts. Dirty hands = dirty contacts.
- Only use FDA-approved cleaning and disinfectant solutions to cleanse contact lenses.
- Never use water or saliva for cleaning contact lenses. Bacteria can cause a very painful eye infection.
- Remove contact lenses at the recommended schedule. Most children and teens should wear daily disposable lenses because it is easier to care for them. Extended wear lenses are usually not recommended for kids and adolescents.
- Do not sleep in contact lenses. Unless your child is wearing extended wear lenses made for sleeping, sleeping in contacts is a big no-no.
- Don’t swim in contact lenses. Just like saliva and tap water, swimming pools and other bodies of water have bacteria. Wearing contact lenses while swimming puts your child at risk of a vision-threatening eye infection. Purchase prescription goggles instead.
- It is safe to wear contact lenses while playing sports. The only exception is swimming, as mentioned above. Contact lenses can enhance sports performance as they provide improved peripheral vision, don’t slide down the nose while playing and protect the eyes from the potential of broken glass.
If you have additional questions about your child’s readiness for contact lenses, contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our pediatric providers. Our goal is to help you make the best eyecare decisions for your child.