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    Children and Contact Lenses

    At first glance, the words "contacts" and "children" may not seem to belong in the same sentence. In fact, kids and contact lenses may actually go together depending on the maturity level of responsibility of the child or, more likely, teenager. The adverse effects of contact lens wear include permanent loss of vision so that this decision must be taken very seriously.

    Is Your Child Ready for Contacts?

    The most important key to safety and success with contact lenses and children is parents' accurate assessment of their child's sense of responsibility. Your child will need to:

    • Be mature enough to tolerate contacts -- and recognize and want the benefit of not wearing eyeglasses.
    • Be responsible enough to follow the eye doctor's instructions for contacts' use and care exactly, day after day.

    So ... is your child the right age to wear contact lenses?

    If you think the answer may be yes, first take a look at how well he or she handles other responsibilities. Ask yourself this: Does your child regularly do assigned tasks like making his bed, cleaning her room, or feeding the dog without needing to be reminded (at least not very often)?

    If so, then you have some assurance that a visit to the eye doctor for a contact lens evaluation for your child won't be in vain. If not, it may be too soon for the responsibility of having contact lenses. You can always reconsider at a later date.

    How Wearing Contacts Could Benefit Your Child

    For kids, contacts lenses can have these important benefits:

    • Better optics -- for better vision -- than eyeglasses. This is especially true of some types of contacts (for example, rigid gas permeable lenses).
    • Better peripheral (side) vision.
    • Improve your child's self-esteem. Many children would rather not wear eyeglasses at school. They may think they look "funny" or "different." Some children find themselves victims of other children's teasing. The change in appearance with wearing contact lenses can give a big boost to a child's self-esteem. This might lead to better school performance and friendships.

    Contact lenses and children alert!

    If your teenager wears contacts, be sure he or she understands the importance of avoiding eye irritation and infections and the possibility of vision loss by:

    • Knowing the importance of proper disinfection, handling, and timely replacement of contact lenses
    • Not sharing or swapping contacts with someone else
    • Never using saliva, tap water, distilled water, or homemade non-sterile saline solution in caring for the lenses
    • For girls, applying makeup after inserting the lenses, not before
    • Using hypoallergenic skin products and cosmetics or those marked "for contact lens wearers" or "for sensitive eyes"

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