The technology behind contact lenses has come a long way over the years, which is why it's no surprise that contact lenses for kids are becoming more common. After all, contacts are great for sports, can boost self-confidence, and for some parents, are more affordable than having to replace glasses that are lost, damaged or simply outgrown.
But before you make the switch to contact lenses for your child, here are a few things you may want to consider.
In most cases, a child's eyes can tolerate contact lenses from a very young age. In fact, even newborns are sometimes prescribed contact lenses to help deal with a congenital vision issue. That being said, just because your children can wear contacts doesn't mean they should. A recent study from the American Optometric Association found that 90% of children between the ages of 8 and 11 had trouble applying and removing disposable contact lenses without the help of their parents.
Each child is unique, so consider how independent your kids are and what you think they could manage on their own. For example, can your child handle the responsibility of removing, cleaning and applying their contacts? Do they know what to do if they need to remove their contacts or have an issue and you're not around?
When getting contact lenses for your child, you may not necessarily be able to use their existing glasses prescription. In fact, depending on the strength of your child's prescription and their overall vision health, your doctor may not recommend contacts at all, as there could be potential issues you aren't aware of.
There may also be other prescription issues that could limit the use of contact lenses. For example, if your child needs corrective eyewear for seeing distances, wearing contacts all day may actually result in headaches (since it would also magnify close up objects, such as a book). That's something that a child wearing glasses wouldn't have to deal with, since they could simply remove their eyewear when reading. Your best bet is to speak with your optometrist to get a recommendation and find out if your child's prescription is suitable for contact lenses.
One question worth asking is what your child hopes to get out of their contact lenses. Some kids are actively involved in sports, so having glasses on can be cumbersome because even impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses can become smudged and dusty, which could affect performance. Conversely, contacts allow young athletes to see clearly and not have to worry about losing or damaging their eyewear.
One thing to bear in mind is that making the switch from glasses to contacts doesn't have to be a permanent decision. In fact, a lot of optometrists are willing to provide trial lenses to see how well your child handles wearing and caring for their contacts. If it doesn't work out, your child can always go back to wearing glasses. The most important thing is to make sure that you speak to your optometrist and take the time to make the decision that's right for your child.
Wearing contact lenses is a major responsibility. Kids must be able to apply and remove them, and they also need to have good hygiene to ensure they aren’t putting their eyes at risk of infection.
According to a study from the American Optometric Association, 30% of optometrists were more likely to fit contact lenses in children over the course of one year because of advancements in daily disposable lens technology. Why? For kids, daily disposable contact lenses are less responsibility because they don’t require cleaning. At the end of the day, they simply need to remove and discard them, and put in a new pair the next morning. But even though they may not need to clean their contacts every day, your child should still have healthy hygiene habits to avoid potential infections when applying and removing his or her contact lenses.
Before making a final decision about contact lenses for your children, speak with your optometrist to discuss your kids’ specific needs and any concerns you might have, so they can help you make the right choice.
To find out more about contact lenses for your child, book an appointment at an FYidoctors near you.