Contacts for Kids: When Can They Start Wearing Them?
The glasses vs. contact lenses rivalry dates all the way back to the 1880s. Yet contacts are consistently a popular choice for adults who need vision correction, and for good reason. They're discreet and convenient, easily fitting into our busy lifestyles while keeping our vision clear.
But what about when children show interest in wearing contacts? When is it appropriate and what information do you need to know?
Contacts for kids is a very common topic and we have all the information you need to make the right decision. Let's explore this more in-depth so you can feel confident and comfortable about allowing your children to wear contacts.
Why Kids May Want to Wear Contact Lenses
There's a myriad of reasons why children may ask about wearing contacts. Perhaps they’re experiencing discomfort from their glasses. Or they’re feeling nervous about wearing glasses during sports, or it’s taking a toll on their self-esteem. Whatever the reason, listening to their concerns and taking them seriously will put you on the right track.
The main concern is to gauge your children’s' maturity and responsibility levels. If your children forget their homework or cannot stay on top of their chores, contact lenses might not be the best course at this point! But if they show responsibility in other areas, they might be ready to handle contacts.
When Can Kids Start Wearing Contact Lenses?
Contacts for kids are completely safe. Some special cases even require infants to wear them! But for general use, the recommended starting age is anywhere between 8-11 years old. Most start between 11 and 14. It just depends on your children’s maturity and responsibility levels.
Your children may insist they’re up for the challenge of maintaining good contact hygiene. If that’s the case, have a trial run with soft disposable lenses and go from there.
Contact Lenses and Nearsightedness
In Canada, nearly 30% of kids between the ages of 6 and 13 struggle with nearsightedness, or myopia. This is the inability to see objects far away clearly. It's extremely common and can be corrected with proper treatment.
Regular soft or hard contact lenses worn daily can address nearsightedness.
In your research, you may come across a method called Orthokeratology, in which rigid gas permeable lenses are worn at night to reshape the cornea and control myopia. However, the Canadian Ophthalmological Society (COS) does not endorse the use of Orthokeratology
Pros of Contacts for Kids
Other than personal preference, there are many advantages for children to wear contacts.
Better Visual Acuity
Contacts can help kids see more clearly. RGP lenses tend to provide crisper vision than soft contacts because of their inflexible shape.
However, soft contacts are more popular since they’re easier to manage while still providing great vision and breathability.
Contacts are often very affordable. Also, if a lens needs to be replaced, the cost is lower compared to replacing glasses.
Contacts for Sports
Glasses have polycarbonate lenses which easily get damaged when playing in a game or in the schoolyard. The frames can also be easily damaged, either an arm snaps off, a screw falls out or the bridge of the glasses breaks when hit by a sports ball, or even a snowball! In a worst case scenario there’s an injury to the eye. Best case, your child has to wear glasses held together with tape until new ones are ordered and arrive.
In addition, sweat can bead on the lenses, fogging and clouding vision. This may not only affect your children’s gameplay, but it could also result in accidents.
Contacts eliminate these issues. They allow your kids to have better peripheral vision and stability during game time. They can focus solely on their performance instead of their glasses slipping or breaking.
Contacts could provide more comfort for children than glasses do, both physically and socially. Self-esteem can be a battle for adolescents.
When you really listen to your children, you'll uncover the reasons behind why they want to wear contacts, and you can work together to find a solution.
What to Be Concerned About
Though there are many benefits of contacts, there are some things to take into consideration.
Again, you know your kids better than anyone else. So if you feel they're not ready, lay out your reasons. An eye care professional will also not give children contacts if they believe they're irresponsible.
Talk With Them About the Risks
Contact lenses can harbour bacteria if not cleaned properly. Set a positive example adand proactively guide your hilde on how to clean and disinfect their contacts. Some things to address are:
- Always using contact solution to clean and store contacts. Not only is water not a disinfectant, but it can also contain harmful bacteria. Some can lead to blindness.
- Excess irritation can lead to poor eye health and serious infections, including loss of vision. Reiterate the importance of them communicating any irritation to you.
- Sharing contacts with a friend, no matter how kind and considerate, is a horrible idea. The exchange of bacteria could lead to infections. Not to mention contact lenses are made to fit one eye only, even if prescriptions are identical.
- How to inspect contacts for rips and tears. And to always tell you if they have a damaged lens!
- Specific makeup should be used with contacts. “Hypoallergenic” or “for sensitive eyes” should be on the label. Putting on makeup after putting in lenses is best. So is removing contacts before removing makeup.
Dry eyes are common among contact wearers. Symptoms can include:
- Burning sensation
- Redness and irritation
- Eye pain
- Blurry vision
Children with dry eyes need to be especially careful when wearing contacts, as it can make symptoms worse. If your children complain about any of these symptoms, have them remove the contacts and see an eye care professional.
Once your children begin wearing contact lenses, at some point, they may express an interest in coloured lenses. Kids may want coloured contacts to dress up or to simply change their looks.
Ordering coloured lenses online from an disreputable merchant or costume store comes with added risk. Doing so can expose your children to very serious infections or injury. Protect your children's vision by taking them to an eye doctor for a proper fitting.
Are You Ready to Get Your Children Contact Lenses?
Contacts for kids are a great option to keep your children's vision clear and their eyes healthy.
When they’re motivated and ready to wear contacts, they’re typically good stewards and can form routines easily. Helping your kids integrate contacts into their lives can be seamless, especially when you can order them online.
To be sure your children are ready for contact lenses, speak with an eye doctor to get an expert third-party opinion.