What Parents Need to Know About
Many kids don't want to wear glasses. Contact lenses are a healthy option that can build your child's self-esteem.
One of the most common questions that eye care professionals hear from parents is, "When is it appropriate for children to start wearing contact lenses?"
Contact lens wear is not a matter of age. Many infants and toddlers wear them; some teenagers shouldn't. In other words, every case is different. Here are a few things you should know to help you decide whether contacts are a good idea for your own children:
Some contact lenses can slow the progression of nearsightedness.
Several studies have shown that specially designed GP lenses used for overnight orthokeratology can slow down eye growth. It's the growth of the eye that results in progressively increasing myopia (nearsighteness).
For more details on the exciting research about orthokeratology, or "ortho-k," read our article about myopia control.
Contact lenses are better for sports activities.
Even if your child is wearing polycarbonate eyeglass lenses, if the frame breaks, it too can cause injury. With contacts, he or she can wear protective goggles. Your child will also have better peripheral (side) vision, for better awareness and performance.
And if your child is using ortho-k contact lenses the same lenses just mentioned for myopia control they'll have an added advantage in sports. Even though ortho-k lenses are worn only while sleeping, they provide crisp vision during the day when they're not being worn. So your child won't have to worry about losing a lens, or getting dust between the lens and the eye, while playing sports.
Some contacts are a better value than others.
Unlike soft contacts, GP lenses are made of a firm plastic material that retains its shape. This means they're easy to clean without tearing or scratching, and they generally last longer than soft contacts or glasses.
Some contacts are healthier than others.
GP contacts let oxygen pass through to the eye much better than many soft contacts do. Corneal tissue needs oxygen to remain healthy. It also needs moisture; since GP contacts don't absorb water from the eyes (unlike soft lenses), they don't dry them out. Your child's eyes will stay more comfortable all day long.
Many children, and most teens, would rather wear contacts than glasses.
The self-esteem of children and teens is closely related to their appearance. If they don't like the way they look in glasses, it can affect their personality, their performance in school, even their future. Once they start wearing contacts, many shy kids come out of their shell and begin participating more in life.
Most eye care professionals report great results with kids and contact lenses.
They find that kids of all ages usually take contact lens wear seriously and are more likely than adults to follow cleaning instructions to the letter.
No eye doctor will prescribe contact lenses for children or teenagers who aren't ready for them or who don't have a good reason to wear them. And they don't hesitate to unprescribe them if a child doesn't take good care of them.
Talk it over with your eye care practitioner he or she is the best person to help you decide what's right for your children's vision correction.
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[Page updated July 2015]