Over 14% of all children under 17 years wear contact lenses
Glasses are a reliable option for managing refractive errors like nearsightedness or farsightedness. However, they aren’t right for everyone. Many children and teenagers find glasses cumbersome, easy to break, or just plain ‘uncool.’
What parents are often unaware of is that children can wear contact lenses from quite a young age – even infants can be prescribed and fitted with soft contact lenses in certain cases.
If this is new information for you, then you may have some questions. Let’s begin by answering the most often asked questions.
Q1: What is the best age for children to start wearing contact lenses?
There is no such thing as an optimal age for wearing contact lenses, just as there is no such thing as an ‘age restriction’ on when a child can start wearing contacts.
The best age to start wearing contact lenses really depends on the child and the type of eye condition that is being treated. A comprehensive eye exam can help determine whether or not your child is a good candidate for contact lenses.
Q2: Are contact lenses safe for children?
Yes. If worn and handled correctly, soft contact lenses are as safe for children as they are for adults.
Parents may be concerned about an increased risk of eye infections because the lenses come into direct contact with the eyes. The fact is, the vast majority of infections are caused by incorrect contact lens handling and storage.
With some adult supervision, a child may readily handle the lenses in a hygienic manner, as well as store and care for them appropriately.
Contacts are usually safe provided:
- The child faithfully follows their eye doctor’s instructions
- Good hygiene is observed
- The lenses are fitted correctly
- The child has regular eye exams
- Lenses are not shared with other users
- Contacts are removed immediately if irritation occurs
Is your child ready for contact lenses? Contact an eye doctor near you to get them fitted.
SEE RELATED: Why Do Children Prefer Contact Lenses
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Q3: How to reduce the risk of contact lens complications?
Contact lens issues are no more likely in children than in teenagers and adults. They can avoid problems or infections if they maintain basic hygiene and adequate contact lens care.
Here are some reminders that you can provide your child:
- Wash hands thoroughly and dry them with a paper towel or lint free towel.
- Never clean your lenses with tap water or saliva. Since bacteria can live in drinking water and saliva, contact lens wearers should only use the contact lens cleaning solution that their doctor has prescribed.
- Never sleep or swim with the contacts still in the eyes, as this can result in an infection.
- Use the prescribed cleaning and storage solution. Make sure to follow your eye doctor’s recommendations and not be tempted by cheaper solutions.
- Replace the case regularly. Clean the lens case often and, every 2-3 months, change the contact lens case to prevent the build up of bacteria and other nasty pathogens.
Q4: What will happen if proper contact lens hygiene is ignored?
Without proper handling, bacteria and other pathogens can adhere to the lens and infect the eye.
Germs can get through the corneal epithelium, which is a thin layer of skin that covers the cornea. This can lead to an abrasion or infection, as well as a corneal ulcer. A corneal ulcer can be uncomfortable, potentially dangerous, and lead to vision loss.
Q5: Can children put contacts in themselves?
Children are fast learners and after a few times of putting contacts in themselves.
However, if your child has difficulty putting the contacts in, there are several tools available to assist the insertion and removal of contact lenses.
LEARN MORE: Guide to Children’s Eye Exams
Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you to find out if your child is ready for contact lenses.
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