A good friend of mine found out recently that her 12-year old son is in need of vision correction. Having begrudgingly worn glasses through most of her teenage years, she’s hoping he may be a candidate for contacts. Unsure if children are able to wear contacts, I turned to Dr. Mary Lou French for answers. Here’s what I learned:
Age is one factor in determining whether a child is a good candidate for contacts, but not the only one. Most important is that your child wants to wear contacts and is mature enough to take care of them. Your eye care professional will also want to make sure that there are no underlying eye conditions that might interfere with a successful shift to contacts. Eye care professionals will typically evaluate a child’s maturity and level of parental support in deciding whether a child is ready for contact lenses.
A growing body of research demonstrates that contact lenses provide significant benefits to children beyond correcting their vision and that some children are capable of wearing and caring for their lenses. Studies have shown that children who wear contacts feel better about their physical appearance, athletic ability and social acceptance compared with kids who wear glasses.
Determining whether children are good candidates for contacts can be as much a question of educating parents as educating children. Since parents know their children better than anyone else, you can help to determine whether your child is ready to take on the responsibility. Parents also need to encourage their children to care for and maintain the lenses. However, you won’t need to do all the work all of the time! Starting children with contacts at a young age can help to foster a budding sense of responsibility and instill self-care habits that will build over a lifetime.
The process of fitting a child for contacts is similar to that for adults. This includes selecting a lens that maximizes comfort, health and visual correction and providing the child with thorough training on lens insertion and removal.
As your child adapts to contact lens wear, maintaining general eye health will play an important role. Your child should have regular eye exams, and you should always inform your eye care professional about any contact or eye-related problems.
Although contacts will not be the right answer for every child with vision problems, if your child seems like a good candidate, you should not hesitate to discuss this option with your eye care professional.
As a mom of a toddler, this got me thinking about his eye health, which until now, I’ve taken for granted. If you’re a mom of a young child, you should know early detection of eye conditions is the best way to ensure a baby has healthy vision now and in the future.
To learn more, please check out Fast Facts for Your Health: Contact Lenses for Children, which can be viewed or downloaded at https://healthywomen.org/children-and-contacts.