Does your child want to wear contact lenses? According to an American Optometric Association (AOA) survey, children 17 and under account for 41 percent of contact lens-wearing patients. If your child wants contacts, look at the answers to some of the most common questions parents have.
What Age Is the Right Age for Contacts?
This question does not come with a one-size-fits-all answer. Children are individuals and have different temperaments, needs, likes/dislikes, comfort levels, and developmental abilities. A mature and responsible 10-year-old might do better with contacts than an immature 14-year-old.
In general, the majority of child contact lens wearers are teens. AOA survey data shows that optometrists report 19 percent of their lens-wearing patients are between 15- and 17-years-old, 13 percent are between 13- and 14-years-old, 7 percent are between 10- and 12-years-old, 2 percent are between 8- and 9-years-old, and less than 1 percent are under age 8.
What Are the Advantages of Wearing Contacts?
Aside from the obvious vision correction factor, contact lenses offer plenty of benefits. Contacts can help your child to:
- Improve their confidence. While some children and teens have no aesthetic issues with wearing glasses, other children simply do not like the way they look in glasses. Contact lenses can remove the self-consciousness they feel and increase their confidence.
- Play sports without fear. Any game that involves potential contact with a ball or another player can seriously damage eyeglasses. Contacts allow the child to play their sport without worrying about breaking their frames.
- Increased physical comfort. Some children do not like the feel of frames on their face. Contacts eliminate this issue and give the child a greater sense of comfort. This can also help children who play sports but find glasses a distraction.
Along with these benefits, contact lenses can also help children who tend to forget or lose their glasses. Not only does this make lenses a more convenient option but can save you money when replacing lost eyeglasses.
Are Contact Lenses Dangerous for Children?
Provided that the lenses fit correctly, an optometry professional has prescribed them, and your child cares for them correctly, contacts are safe. Observing hygiene practices — including caring for the lenses, washing hands before putting in contacts or taking the contacts out, and not wearing the lenses during an eye infection — can increase overall safety.
Some types of contacts are better and safer for children than others. Your eye care professional can determine what lenses match your child's individual needs. Please note that extended wear contacts are often not advisable for children. Children are at greater risk for developing corneal ulcers and permanent vision loss because of extended wear contact use.
Should the Child or the Parent Make the Choice?
The decision whether to wear contacts or stay with glasses is a choice that parents and children should make together. Like almost every other decision in your child's life, you need to act as a guide — and sometimes as the voice of reason.
If your child is too young to research contacts on their own, provide them with the facts. This includes the different types of contacts available, care instructions, benefits, and potential drawbacks. Make sure your child feel like they have a say in the matter.
According to AOA data, 96 percent of optometrists surveyed say that the child's own interest and self-motivation is the primary factor in the decision to wear contacts. If your child is resistant or does not actively show an interest, consider skipping contacts and sticking with glasses.Does your child want to wear contact lenses? Contact St. Pierre Eye Care for more information.