Contact Lenses Safety for Children

Dr. Russel Lazarus, May 30, 2021

Eye doctors report that over 4 in 10 of their contact lens patients are school aged children.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), 14.5 percent of all children under 17 years wear contact lenses.

Parents may have concerns about eye health and safety when it comes to contact lenses and their children. But there is no need to worry; contact lenses are just as safe for children as they are for adults.

Schedule an appointment with an eye doctor near you to get your child fitted for the right kind of contact lenses.

SEE RELATED: Multifocal Contact Lenses for Children 

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Children under 12 years old are most frequently prescribed daily disposable soft contact lenses. For children aged 12 and older, reusable contact lenses are also an option — these can be replaced every two weeks or monthly, depending on the type.

Single use and daily disposable contact lenses are prescribed mostly to prevent contamination issues that can occur from insufficient disinfection of lenses that are worn more than once.

Types of contact lenses

There are many different types of contact lenses for children to correct a variety of vision conditions:

  • Soft Contacts

These lenses are most frequently prescribed for children, as they are known to be comfortable and easy to adapt to.  These lenses are available as daily, biweekly (every two weeks), and monthly disposables. Extended wear options are also available.

  • Rigid Gas Permeable Contacts (RGP)

Also known as ‘hard lenses,’ these lenses provide clear vision for many complex vision conditions. Their high oxygen permeability decreases the risk of eye infections. However, when starting to wear these lenses there may be a longer adjustment period than with soft lenses.

  • Toric Lenses

These lenses are used for people with astigmatism. They come in a standard design for most common optical powers or can be specially customized if required.

  • Scleral Lenses

These contact lenses are used for children with an irregular corneal shape. Sclerals bridge over the cornea and rest on the white (sclera) of the eye.

  • Ortho-k Lenses

These lenses are used for children with myopia. Worn overnight, they temporarily  reshape the cornea so users can enjoy clear vision during the day, without the need for eyewear.

These lenses have also been shown to reduce the progression of myopia.

Schedule a contact lens fitting with an eye doctor near you.

Is my child ready for contact lenses?

Before deciding if contact lenses are right for a child, a parent needs to consider whether their child is ready to wear them. During their eye doctor’s appointment, the optometrist may ask about the level of personal hygiene, maturity and responsibility.

Older children are typically highly motivated to wear contacts and usually adapt to them very quickly.

Other considerations are the child’s optical prescription, level of self-esteem and participation in sports.

Eye infections and contact lenses

Children, like adults, have a chance of developing eye infections or other complications when using  contact lenses. However, when cared for and worn according to your eye doctor’s instructions, contact lenses are low-risk and perfectly safe for children and teenagers.

Children who wear contact lenses must follow careful instructions to maintain optimal hygiene in order to prevent any eye infections.

Here are some ways for them to prevent and minimize their risk of an eye infection:

  • Always wash hands before inserting or removing contact lenses
  • Clean contact lenses and cases as directed by your eye doctor
  • Keep fingernails short and clean
  • Replace contact lenses as directed by your doctor
  • Attend all appointments with your eye doctor

LEARN MORE: Guide to Children’s Eye Exams

Schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near you to find out which type of contact lens is the best fit and safest for your child’s eyes.