Can children wear contact lenses?
There isn’t a minimum or recommended age for children to wear contact lenses, but it's still important to weigh all of the factors before your child transitions to contact lenses. Glasses can be difficult for active kids, but contact lenses bring a lot of responsibility. If your child's glasses are getting in the way of their sports or if they’ve lost or broken too many frames to count, it may be time to make the switch. In addition to talking to your optometrist, here are some considerations to help determine whether your child is ready for contact lenses.
When is a child ready for contact lenses?
Children need to be mature enough to handle contacts in a way that keeps their eyes and vision healthy. The age at which they’re ready will vary from child to child, but around ages 11 or 12 kids have the dexterity and responsibility that’s needed to insert and remove contact lenses and develop healthy habits around their eye health. Children also have to demonstrate that they practice good hygiene.
Ask yourself, how good is your child at washing their hands and brushing their teeth every night? You know the personality and the responsibility of your child best, but also understand how badly your child wants contact lenses and their level of comfort. Typically, it works out best when the child is asking to wear contacts. If they are talked into doing so, it rarely works. It can even be traumatic for a child if they don’t really want contacts. All three parties—you as a parent, your optometrist, and your child—need to be on the same page.
Are all children eligible for contacts?
Aside from not being ready for the responsibility of contact lenses, some kids with certain eye diagnoses will not be good candidates for contacts. For example, some people have abnormalities in the shape of their eye or astigmatism which requires lenses that are not easy for children to manage. In those cases, it's best to stick to glasses.
What do parents need to know about giving kids contact lenses?
When an optometrist prescribes your child contact lenses, they’ll train your child the correct technique for inserting and removing them. Kids need to remember to wash their hands before touching their lenses or their eyes in order to prevent the spread of bacteria, and remember to take their contacts out before bed every night. Your child needs to be confident enough to handle inserting the lenses themselves in case, for instance, a lens falls out at school and they have to put in a new one. On that note, kids should always be carrying an extra pair of lenses in their backpack or have a backup pair of glasses and always wear glasses if they aren’t wearing their lenses. Vision correction is the priority!
We specialize in pediatric eye care at Gulf Coast vision center and are happy to discuss available options for your child’s vision. Reach out to Gulf Coast Vision Center to schedule an appointment in Pace, Milton or Crestview or at one of our Pensacola locations at Nine Mile or East Hill.