Are Contact Lenses Right For My Child?

Maybe. In fact, contacts may even benefit your child more than glasses. Human eyes can tolerate contact lenses at a very early age. Sometimes infants are fitted with contacts to correct congenital eye problems before they become serious.

In general, though, contacts are appropriate when a child is old enough to wear and care for them responsibly. Over-wearing lenses—especially sleeping with lenses designed only for daytime use—greatly increases the risk of eye problems. Also, your child must be able to easily apply and remove the lenses, as well as clean/disinfect them in the proper solution.

In 2008, the Contact Lenses in Pediatrics (CLIP) study found that children as young as 8 years old are mature enough to handle contact lenses, and children aged 8 – 12 had no more contact lens-related eye problems than teenagers. Kids are also more resourceful than you might think: 83 percent of preteens enrolled in the study said contacts were easy to maintain, and 92 percent chose to continue wearing them.

Results from another study suggest contact lenses may have an additional benefit for young children—boosting self-esteem.

In another study 484 children ages 8 – 11 were randomly assigned to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses for three years.  Results suggested that children's perception of their own physical appearance, athletic ability and social acceptance may improve with contact lens wear.

Contacts may also have long-term benefits. Some experts believe that kids who wear contact lenses that block the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays may have a significantly reduced risk of eye problems like cataracts or macular degeneration later in life.

Perhaps most important, however, is a child’s motivation to wear contacts. Just because you wear contacts doesn't mean your child will want to; some children are perfectly happy wearing glasses and don't pursue contact lenses until much later in life, if at all.  Make sure to discuss the options with your child and his/her eye doctor.

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