For many teens trading their glasses for a pair of contact lenses is a sign of becoming an adult. It is a cherished opportunity that means they are growing up. But, how old does one need to be before they can begin wearing contacts? You might be surprised to learn that even young children can tolerate contacts well if they receive the proper training and support.
Children and Contacts
While contacts were once reserved for teens and young adults, many children can use contacts with no problems at all, provided their parents and doctor believe they are ready for the responsibility. One study observed children ages 8-11 wearing daily disposable contacts and found that 9 out of 10 children were able to use them with no problems over the course of 3 months. Daily contacts are an easier for children since they don’t need to be cleaned, disinfected or stored.
One reason why children don’t typically wear contacts is the responsibility factor. It is a well-known fact that children can wear contact lenses (many children and toddlers use them for a variety of different eye conditions), but contact lenses are rarely prescribed for children due to nearsightedness. One suspected reason is the increased hassle of cleaning the lenses. Daily disposable lenses eliminate the hassle, making it possible for even young children to successfully wear contact lenses.
Another reason why children don’t typically wear contact lenses is motor skills. Young children may not have the finger dexterity to insert a contact lens. Children may also be more frightened of a foreign object being inserted into their eyes. However, depending on maturity level, young children can be trained to insert, remove and care for their contact lenses. Many children may need their parents to help them so it is important for parents to learn with the child during their contact lens fitting and exam.
Benefits of Contacts
Contact lenses potentially have many benefits for children. One is the ability to avoid wearing glasses. Some children are embarrassed by their glasses and contact lenses have the potential to remove the embarrassment and improve the self-confidence of children with vision difficulties. Contact lenses can also provide better vision quality than glasses and improved peripheral vision.
Many children are very active with sports, gymnastics etc. Glasses often times can hinder their ability to perform well. Contact lenses can help with physical activities. Contact lenses can also provide better vision quality than glasses and improved peripheral vision.
Downsides of Contacts
One downside of using contact lens in children is the increased expense. Glasses are typically a one-time charge, but contacts are a daily or monthly expense. Disposable contacts are often recommended for young children because they are the most hygienic, however these are one of the most expensive types of contact lenses.
Another downside is the risk of infection or eye problems if the contacts aren’t used properly. Teaching young children proper contact care and sanitation is essential if you want to protect their vision. It is important to teach children not to play with or share their contacts, to only clean them with approved contact lens solution and to remove contacts when swimming or showering. Teaching children proper contact care from a young age will help them establish good habits that will remain once they are teens and adults.
If children experience any discomfort or infection when wearing contact lenses it is important to remove them immediately and wear glasses for a time to allow the eye to heal.
Choosing Contacts for Your Child
If you would like to introduce your child to contact lenses, the best place to start is with their eye doctor. Some doctors prefer to wait until a child is older, but many will allow them to begin wearing contacts at around age 8. Talk with your doctor about the available lens options. If they choose to prescribe soft contacts, consider asking about daily contact lenses since these are easier to care for. Do not allow your child to wear non-prescription contact lenses. It is important to teach them that contacts are a medical device and should be treated with care and respect.
If you are wondering when your child can begin wearing contact lenses, the answer is entirely up to you and your eye doctor. Talk with them and find out when they think contacts may be appropriate for your child.
Do you think it's a good idea to let children wear contact lenses? Comment below!
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