Contact Lenses for Children | A Parent’s Guide
As a parent, you may be feeling apprehensive about your child being prescribed contact lenses, especially if you have never worn them yourself. Here’s some information on lenses, along with safety tips to help protect your child’s eyesight.
Are Contact Lenses Safe For Children To Wear?
As long as your child is at a suitable age, contact lenses are perfectly safe for children to wear. Like glasses, lenses are prescribed for children who need their vision corrected and they are an effective method for achieving this. The only thing that needs to be considered is the child’s responsibility of caring for the lenses, as they need to be aware of the importance of handling and wearing them appropriately.
What Age Can Children Start Wearing Contact Lenses?
The most common age for children to begin wearing contact lenses is between 12 and 13, however, it does depend entirely on the maturity of the child. For example, an optometrist may prescribe a child as young as 10 with contact lenses, if they are believed to be capable of looking after the lenses properly and trusted with wearing them safely. They will also assess factors such as whether or not your child is capable of inserting and removing the lenses, as although this isn’t a difficult task, it can take some time getting used to the method involved. This is something that you, as a parent, will be able to discuss with your child’s eye doctor and come to a decision about.
What Are The Benefits of Lenses Over Glasses?
For many children, like many adults, contact lenses can be a more convenient option than glasses. Though there are a vast range of glasses available in a variety of different styles, many children can still feel self-conscious wearing them, and would therefore prefer the subtlety of contact lenses when correcting their vision. For children who play a lot of contact sports, lenses may be the safer option too, avoiding the risk of a potential injury occurring when glasses break.
Likewise, lenses don’t get steamed up or dirty in the way that glasses do, so are a more comfortable choice for many. Contact lenses are also available with UV protection, reducing the risk of your child developing further eye problems in the future, such as macular degeneration or cataracts.
Which Type of Contact Lenses Are Best For Children?
While your child’s optometrist will be able to determine which type of lens is most suitable for them individually, daily disposable contact lenses are the most common option for the majority of younger wearers. This is due to daily disposables being the most convenient of lenses, as they don’t require cleaning or storage after every single wear and instead a new lens is inserted each day. However, the type of lens your child is prescribed will be reliant on their prescription, their suitability and the nature of their eye problem.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Contact Lenses?
While contact lenses are perfectly safe for the majority of the time, the risks associated with their use are generally a result of poor personal hygiene. This is the same for both adults and children, so your child needs to be fully aware that lenses require a high level of cleanliness and sanitation in order for them to be as safe as possible.
Poor personal hygiene with contact lenses, for example not washing hands before inserting them or using saliva to moisten them, can lead to a number of eye problems, including ulcers, severe infections and even loss of vision in extreme cases.
It is vital that your child understands the importance of good personal hygiene when using their lenses, as the contact with germs, dust or any other harmful material on the lens will likely cause them an infection. It is also worth considering the suitability of contact lenses for children who suffer with seasonal allergies, as the lenses can cause further irritability and itching to the eye in some cases.
Safety Tips To Remember
Here are some safety tips for your child to remember when wearing their contact lenses:
- Always have a prescription for the lenses you wear, and never wear someone else’s contact lenses
- Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before touching the lenses (this includes before cleaning or inserting them); it is best to dry hands with a clean, lint-free cloth
- Ensure you only ever use products and solutions that have been recommended or prescribed buy your eye care professional, and be sure to clean your lenses exactly as directed
- Never wear contact lenses for longer than prescribed – ensure you don’t sleep in your lenses unless you have been prescribed to do so
- Never expose lenses to any kind of water
- Never expose lenses to saliva
- Insert lenses before applying any kind of cosmetics, and remove the lenses before removing makeup
- Never put lenses into eyes that are red or irritated
- You must remove your contact lenses immediately if your eye is itching, irritated, burning or red – and you must seek medical advice from an eye care professional in these cases
- It is always a good idea to keep a backup pair of glasses on hand, should you ever need them.