When Can a Child Wear Contact Lenses?
Is your child ready to wear contact lenses? How old is old enough? Contact lens care is now easier and more convenient than ever before, for all types of lenses. Wearing contacts has become an option for many children.
There are no set rules for children's age and contact lenses. Much depends on how responsible your child is and how much parental support is needed and available. Children as young as 8 years old may do well with contacts, while some teens may not be ready to handle the responsibility. Eye care providers often won't advise contacts for children younger than 12 years of age. This is because the risks often outweigh the benefits in younger children.
Benefits of contact lenses
Some of the benefits of contact lenses include better side (peripheral) vision. This is helpful for sports. It's also helpful for driving, if your child is old enough to drive. In some cases, contacts can offer better quality of vision than eyeglasses. Studies have also shown improvement in a child's self-perception when wearing contacts instead of glasses.
Important lens care
Basic lens care includes cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting, and storing with a special solution. This solution keeps lenses clean, comfortable, and free of bacteria. Parents and children should follow the exact instructions for lens care.
Contact lenses have their benefits. But your child may not be ready for the added responsibility. The problem is often poor hygiene. Always have your child follow the eye care provider's advice on correct contact lens hygiene. Some basic rules to have your child follow include:
Wash and dry your hands before cleaning or putting in lenses.
Clean and rinse your contact lenses as directed. Only use products advised by the eye care provider.
Never put your lenses in water or saliva.
Don't wear lenses for longer than prescribed.
Never wear someone else's lenses.
Always have a prescription for any lens you wear. This includes lenses for cosmetic reasons.
Never put contact lenses into a red eye.
Remove contact lenses if the eyes are itching, burning, red, or irritated. Call your eye care provider.
Don't sleep with contact lenses unless they are approved for overnight use.
Talking with an eye care provider
It is important to have an eye care provider determine what type of vision correction a child needs. The child's abilities and maturity level must be taken into account when thinking about contact lenses. Personal wear and care routines may depend on the type of contact prescribed, the type of vision problem being corrected, and the child’s eye chemistry.
In some cases, very young children and even infants may need contact lenses. In these cases, parents or other caregivers must manage the placement and care of the lenses. Daily disposable lenses are more expensive. But they can reduce some of the risks that come with wearing contact lenses. Ask your child’s healthcare provider if contact lenses may be right for your child.