When Can Children Wear Contact Lenses?
Quite often, parents ask us if their child is ready for contact lenses. The answer can vary with the child. Four simple questions may help you decide if your child is ready to consider contacts.
- Does your child need to wear glasses all day?
- Is your child responsible? For example, do you have to remind him/her to brush teeth every morning and night? Does he/she keep up with homework, making the bed, cleaning his/her room without having to be constantly reminded?
- Is your child overly sensitive when touching the eye? To find out, ask him/her to touch the eye with a clean finger, without squinting.
- Are you financially prepared to meet the ongoing expense of contact lens supplies and solutions?
Contact lenses are worn throughout the day. If your child has a mild prescription or reading/computer glasses which are not worn all day, he/she may not benefit from contact lenses.
Contact lenses require responsibility. A child needs to be mature enough to manage proper lens insertion, removal and cleaning–It should not be up to Mom or Dad (although parental supervision is important, especially right at first). If contacts are worn without regard to the doctor’s prescribed wearing and replacement regimen or are not properly cleaned, it can lead to eye infections and other problems.
Inserting and removing contact lenses requires being able to touch the eye. Initially, most new contact lens wearers are squeamish about touching their eyes to insert and remove contacts. But usually, after a few days, the sensitivity goes away, and lens handling is quick and easy. However, when someone is overly sensitive to touching the eye, it’s difficult to get the contact lens in and out, causing frustration. Successful contact lens wearers learn how to keep their eye open, sometimes holding the upper and lower lids wide open with one hand while inserting the contact with the other.
Today’s contact lenses come in a wide range of prescriptions to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and/or presbyopia. They are made in a variety of wearing/replacement regimens, too.
Disposable single-use daily wear contact lenses are packaged in individual blister packs that don’t require cleaning but are tossed at the end of the day. (Imagine an annual supply of 360 lenses!) These lenses cost more but are the healthiest modality and the ultimate in convenience. With “daily disposables” you will never need to question if your child cleaned his/her lenses properly. My own son wore daily disposables and never had an eye infection. (He had LASIK a few years ago and now doesn’t need glasses or contact lenses.)
Daily wear lenses are also available in 2-week or monthly replacement lenses. These are cleaned nightly, re-inserted in the morning and replaced every 2 weeks or every month. Contact lenses are made of a variety of materials and build up protein deposits and debris as they are worn. The 2-week lenses tend to build up deposits more easily than the 1-month lenses, requiring more frequent replacement. Proper cleaning and replacement are critical in assuring a great contact lens experience.
Contact lenses and the necessary cleaning/disinfection solutions are an on-going expense. If that’s not in the budget, it’s best to stick with glasses.
Even if a child wears contact lenses full-time, it’s always important to have glasses to wear after removing contact lenses or in the event of an eye infection or injury. Not everyone wears contact lenses every day; many folks enjoy mixing things up, wearing glasses some days and contact lenses on other days.
Our goal is to find the best contact lenses to fit each patient, their lifestyle and budget. Call Family Vision Health Center at 606-474-7833.