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 on myopia control have had positive indications for GP lenses, although the results have not been entirely conclusive. However, researchers at The Ohio State University and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University have found that myopia is reduced and myopia-producing eye growth slowed when orthokeratology lenses are worn at night only.
More studies are being conducted in this field, but many eye care professionals have seen good results in slowing the progression of myopia with GP contacts and continue to prescribe them for this purpose. In an independent study conducted for the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association, 69% of responding contact lens practitioners said they believe that GP contact lenses may reduce the progression of childhood myopia.
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.
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 September 2009]