Should Kids Wear Contacts?

At first glance, the words "contacts" and "children" may not seem like they belong in the same sentence. In reality, they’re often a perfect match. That being said, the kid in question is usually a teenager. And whether contacts are a good idea depends on how mature and responsible she is.

Contact Benefits

They can help your kid:

See better: Rigid gas permeable lenses may offer better vision than her glasses. And contacts let you see what’s to the side of you (the eye doctor will call this peripheral vision).

Feel better: Glasses go in and out of style, but some kids just don’t want to wear them school. Especially if they have super-thick lenses. They do stand out and they could make your kid a target for teasing. The self-esteem boost that comes with a pair of contacts could lead to better school performance and more friendships.

Is She Ready?

You need to make sure she:

  • Understands the benefits of not wearing eyeglasses.
  • Can follow the doctor's instructions exactly, day after day.

Ask yourself this: Does she always do chores without reminders? Or do you have to nag her to clean her room or make her bed?

If you think she’s ready, it’s time to visit your eye doctor. If not, you can always get them later.

There Are Drawbacks

Contacts come with risks, like eye irritation and infections. At the worst, they can cause vision loss. Make sure she knows the rules:

  • How to properly disinfect and handle them
  • When to replace a worn-out pair
  • Not to share or swap contacts with another person
  • Never to use spit, tap water, distilled water, or homemade non-sterile saline solution
  • To apply makeupafter she puts in the lenses, not before
  • To use hypoallergenic skin products and cosmetics or those marked "for contact lens wearers" or "for sensitive eyes"

Which Lenses Are Best?

Ask your doctor. If he prescribes disposable soft lenses, consider daily disposable soft lenses rather than the cheaper disposables that are worn for 2 weeks and then thrown out. Care is simpler: She won’t have to disinfect and clean dailies. She’ll learn how to put them in and take them out much faster if she has to change them every day.

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What About Decorative Lenses?

This question comes up every year around Halloween. If an eye doctor prescribes them, they can be safe as well as fun. (Keep in mind, though, that they don’t correct vision.)

But problems come up when you don’t get them fitted by a professional. The lenses you find at places like beauty stores, flea markets, and costume stores are far lower quality than fitted ones. The FDA strongly warns that anyone who uses them is at high risk for eye infection, injury, vision loss, even blindness. Don’t let your child take this kind of chance.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on January 24, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Research News: "Study: Contact Lenses Good Option for 8- to 11-Year-Olds."

All About Vision: "Are Contact Lenses a Good Choice for Kids?"

Contact Lens Council: "Am I old enough for contacts?"

FDA: "FDA News: FDA Reminds Consumers of Serious Risks of using Decorative Contact Lenses Without Consulting Eye Care Professional."

 

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