At first glance, the words "contacts" and "children" may not seem like they belong in the same sentence. In reality, they can be 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 they are.
They can help your kid:
See better: Rigid gas permeable lenses may offer better vision than their 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. It’s also great for kids who play sports or do activities that can be challenging to keep glasses on.
Are They Ready?
You need to make sure they:
- Understand the benefits of not wearing eyeglasses.
- Can follow the doctor's instructions exactly, day after day.
Ask yourself this: Do they always do chores without reminders? Or do you have to nag them to clean their room or make their bed?
If you think they’re 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 they know 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 they put in the lenses, not before
- To use hypoallergenic skin products and cosmetics or those marked "for contact lens wearers" or "for sensitive eyes"
- To always remove the contact lens at the first sign of irritation
Which Lenses Are Best?
Ask your doctor. If they prescribe 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: They won’t have to disinfect and clean dailies, which decreases the risk for any dangerous infections. They’ll learn how to put them in and take them out much faster if they have to change them every day.
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.