A significant number of children who wear glasses express a desire to transition to contact lenses, particularly older children who are conscious of their appearance. But how can you determine if and when contact lenses could be a suitable choice for your child?
Contact lenses offer not only aesthetic benefits, enhancing a child’s self-confidence in their appearance, but also convenience, particularly for active children engaged in sports or those prone to misplacing or damaging their glasses.
However, it is crucial to bear in mind that contact lenses are medical devices that demand care and responsibility. Neglecting proper contact lens hygiene can lead to infections, irritation, corneal abrasions, discomfort, and, in severe cases, even vision loss. Therefore, before considering contact lenses for your child, it is essential to assess their maturity level and ability to responsibly care for their eyes.
The appropriate age for children to begin considering contact lenses can vary, but typically falls between 11 and 14 years old. In some cases, doctors may recommend contact lenses for children as young as 8 years old if they have demonstrated responsibility in their usage.
Since contact lens wear necessitates good hygiene and cleanliness practices, if your child exhibits these traits, it may indicate their readiness. Moreover, if they display a strong motivation to wear contacts and receive support from their parents, it enhances the likelihood of a successful adherence to the daily regimen.
The initial step entails scheduling an appointment for a contact lens examination with your optometrist. During this visit, the eye doctor will conduct a comprehensive vision examination and discuss various contact lens options tailored to your child’s prescription, eye health, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Contact lenses are available in different materials (soft or rigid gas permeable), replacement schedules (daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly), and wear schedules (daily or extended overnight wear). For children, daily lenses are often recommended as they are disposed of after each use, requiring less maintenance, minimizing buildup, and reducing the risk of infection.
Subsequently, the doctor will provide guidance on inserting and removing the lenses, as well as instructions for proper care. Your child will likely be provided with a wearing schedule for the initial week or so, allowing their eyes to adapt to the lenses. During this period, it may be necessary to maintain communication with the eye doctor to evaluate the comfort and fit of the lenses. You may need to explore a few options to determine the best fit for your child.
As a medical device, contact lenses should only be obtained with a prescription from a licensed distributor, such as an eye doctor. Using unauthorized or unmonitored contact lenses, including cosmetic lenses like colored or costume lenses, can result in severe eye damage and even blindness. It is essential to have a valid prescription whenever you are inserting a lens into your eye.
Here are some fundamental contact lens safety tips to consider. If your child demonstrates responsibility in following these guidelines, they may be ready for contact lens use:
It is important to note that contact lens use is an ongoing process. As children grow, the fit of the lenses may change, necessitating annual contact lens assessments. Furthermore, advancements in technology continually enhance the comfort and quality of contact lenses.
While contact lenses are a remarkable invention, they require proper care and usage. Before allowing your child to embark on contact lens use, it is crucial to review the associated risks and safety guidelines.