At first glance, the words “contacts” and “children” may not seem to belong in the same sentence. In fact, kids and contact lenses may be a good match depending on the maturity of the child or, more likely, teenager.
Is Your Child Ready for Contacts?
The most important key to safety and success with contact lenses and children is parents’ accurate assessment of their child’s sense of responsibility. Your child will need to:
- Be mature enough to tolerate contacts — and recognize and want the benefit of not wearing eyeglasses.
- Be responsible enough to follow the eye doctor’s instructions for contacts’ use and care exactly, day after day.
So … is your child the right age to wear contact lenses?
If you think the answer may be yes, first take a look at how well he or she handles other responsibilities. Ask yourself this: Does your child regularly do assigned tasks like making his bed, cleaning her room, or feeding the dog without needing to be reminded (at least not very often)?
If so, then you have some assurance that a visit to the eye doctor for a contact lens evaluation for your child won’t be in vain. If not, it may be too soon for the responsibility of having contact lenses. You can always reconsider at a later date.
How Wearing Contacts Could Benefit Your Child
For kids, contacts lenses can have these important benefits:
- Better optics — for better vision — than eyeglasses. This is especially true of some types of contacts (for example, rigid gas permeable lenses).
- Better peripheral (side) vision.
- Improve your child’s self-esteem. Many children would rather not wear eyeglasses at school. They may think they look “funny” or “different.” Some children find themselves victims of other children’s teasing. The change in appearance with wearing contact lenses can give a big boost to a child’s self-esteem. This might lead to better school performance and friendships.
Contact lenses and children alert!
If your teenager wears contacts, be sure he or she understands the importance of avoiding eye irritation and infections by:
- Not sharing or swapping contacts with someone else
- Never using saliva, tap water, distilled water, or homemade non-sterile saline solution in caring for the lenses
- For girls, applying makeup after inserting the lenses, not before
- Using hypoallergenic skin products and cosmetics or those marked “for contact lens wearers” or “for sensitive eyes”
Which Lenses Are Best for My Child?
The proper contact lenses for your child is a question your eye doctor can best answer. But here’s a thought: If the eye doctor prescribes disposable soft lenses for your child, consider opting for daily disposable soft lenses rather than the less expensive disposables that are worn for two weeks and discarded. “Dailies” eliminate the need to disinfect and clean lenses, so lens care is simpler. Learning to apply and remove the lenses is faster when the child changes them every day.
What About “Decorative” Contact Lenses?
This question arises every year around Halloween, and during other holidays as well. Some lens patterns can really make eyes win the prize! If an eye doctor prescribes them, they can be safe as well as fun. (Keep in mind, though, that these lenses do not correct vision.)
The problem is, many people don’t get these lenses fitted by an eye doctor. Some buy them at places like beauty stores and flea markets, without realizing that these “outlaw” lenses do not have the same quality as fitted lenses. The FDA strongly warns that anyone using these lenses is at high risk for eye infection, injury, vision loss, even blindness. Obviously, no child should be allowed to run such a serious risk.
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