Kids and Contact Lenses—A Guide for Parents

 So the kid needs glasses. These days, not a big deal. You see children of all ages wearing glasses. Plus, they don’t have the stigma they used to have—witness all the fun and funky frames available. At my son’s school, the kids have taken to wearing fashion glasses with neon-plaid frames and plain glass (as in non-corrective) lenses just for the fun of it.
But at some point, depending on your child, and especially if you have a teenager with more on her mind than being able to see the board from the back of the class, you may wonder if contact lenses are a good option.
First and foremost, consult with your optometrist about whether your child’s eye corrective needs are suited to contacts. And second, consider contact lenses as part of a whole vision care package that works in conjunction with prescription glasses and sunglasses.
Reasons to Consider Contacts for Kids
Safe for Kids to Wear
Just as for adults, contact lenses are safe for kids to wear under the care and supervision of an eye care practitioner. The main point to make here is that it’s not so much the age of the wearer, it is the maturity and willingness to follow all the prescribed hygiene practices. Every child is different. For example, a teenager who doesn’t care about keeping his room clean, or ignores homework or chores may not be as suited to contacts as a 10-year old who follows instructions.
Sports, Sports, Sports!
For active kids and teens, contact lenses are a huge win because they offer better all-round, unobstructed vision with no awkward blind spots. They also don’t slip down the nose or fog up, which any athlete will tell you is unacceptable. Pausing to adjust your glasses on a fast break won’t win you any points with your team.
Self Esteem and Self Confidence
Even though glasses are more a fashion accessory than ever, if your child or teen is self-conscious and desperate not to stand out in the crowd, contact lenses can be a real confidence booster.
Comfort and Convenience
Glasses can sometimes be uncomfortable, either always slipping down the nose or causing pressure behind the ears. Of course, these things can be fixed by having glasses re-fitted, but never fully eliminated. Properly fitted contact lenses, on the other hand, are both comfortable and convenient.
And speaking of convenience, daily disposable contact lens brands, like Acuvue Moist and Focus Dailies, take away the hassle of cleaning solutions and lens cases. Dailies are soft contacts that are thrown away after each use. You wear a new pair every day.
Is Your Child Ready for Contacts?
The biggest factor to consider is maturity. Is your child responsible enough and motivated enough follow all lens care practices? Proper hygiene is vital because failing to clean and store lenses correctly can lead to eye infections and serious health complications.
If you have to constantly remind your teen to shower and shave, or to keep her room clean and take care of her possessions, then maybe they’re not ready yet. But if they are on top of their own personal care and want to try contacts, either because of sports or peer pressure, then why not give them that responsibility and trust.
What are the Downsides to Contact Lenses?
While cost should not be your only consideration, know that contact lenses are more expensive than glasses in the long run. For example, a year’s supply of dailies run between $200 and $220, which can be more than a single pair glasses. And, contacts are by no means a total replacement for glasses so you’ll still need to invest in a pair or two. Lastly, there’s a risk for eye infections if proper hygiene and contact lens care are not observed.
Contact lenses and kids are a safe and successful combination if all these contributing factors are in place: parent support, maturity and motivation.
Leanne Tremblay writes about safe contact lens wear over at ColorMeContacts.com.

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