Eye Effects in Calgary & Didsbury
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Can Kids Wear Contact Lenses? What to Know

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Wearing contacts requires responsibility and care. While problems are rare, they can happen if lenses are worn incorrectly. Is it too much responsibility for children? Is your child old enough? Learn how kids manage wearing contact lenses and how you and your optometrist, can help guide them

Are my Children too Young for Contact Lenses?

A common misconception is that a child may be too young to wear contact lenses. That’s not true! An infant just a few days old can wear contacts for medical reasons. Contact lenses can be worn at any age, but they do require parental help for a child that’s too young. If you want a more independent approach, a child can usually do it all on their own at around age 10

But while there’s no minimum age required, you must consider if contact lenses are the best option for your child. The best way to find that out is to book an appointment with a pediatric optometrist. Your child’s eye doctor can then walk you through the process and help you make an informed decision.

Is My Child Ready?

That’s an important question that you and your child’s optometrist need to answer. Ask yourself, does your child handle responsibility well? Do they need reminders to do their chores? Do they clean their room without the constant need to ask? If they already wear glasses, do they take good care of them? Depending on the answer to these questions, they might be ready. The key requirements here are a sense of responsibility and the ability to follow instructions. 

While the associated risks of wearing contacts are pretty small, they still exist. Problems like eye infection, irritation, and even lasting eye damage can occur with improper use. So be sure to guide your kids every step of the way, and remind them to take out lenses when they go to sleep.

Benefits of Children’s Contact Lenses

Contact lenses improve vision but there are other benefits too. Lenses can improve a child’s self-esteem, increase their confidence, and help them practice sports more easily.

If your child wears eyeglasses, they may approach you and ask if they can switch to lenses. This could happen if they practice a lot of sports, are annoyed by the frame of eyeglasses, or maybe have another kid messing with them at school because of glasses. If your child is interested, you or the eye doctor should explain the responsibilities and the benefits of wearing contact lenses. 

If the benefits of contact lenses outweigh the risks, and your child can manage it all, lenses could be very helpful in your child’s daily life.

Child smiling and looking at the contact lenses he's holding next to glasses

Conventional vs Disposable Lenses

If you as a parent and your child’s eye doctor deem them ready for lenses, it’s time to consider what type. While there’s a myriad of products for a range of varying eye problems, the most common lenses are:

  • Soft Lenses. These are very common, as they are easy to adapt to and also flexible. Sterilizing and cleaning are necessary, but soft lenses are usually the most comfortable for children.
  • Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses (RGP). Also called hard lenses, this type of lens allows oxygen to pass through, allowing the eyes to breathe. But they’re generally more uncomfortable for children, and their eyes might feel itchy.
  • Disposable Lenses. Disposables are essentially soft lenses that are worn for a set period and then discarded. The wear time and necessary care will vary between brands.

Consider Disposable

Disposable eye contacts have the advantage of requiring less care and can be more adaptable. As your child ages and their eyes develop further, their eye prescription may change. The cost of having to replace their conventional contacts or glasses can rack up. If they wear disposable contacts and have regular trips to an eye doctor, their optometrist can adapt the prescription easily, resulting in fewer expenses in the long run.

There are different subtypes of disposables. Daily contacts, weekly contacts, bi-weekly, monthly, and so on. With daily contacts, your child wears them for a day and then throws them away. That easy, no care required. With weekly or monthly lenses, they have to take them off each night and clean in contact solution. Eventually, the lenses are discarded at the end of their life cycle. This is important, as wearing disposables more than their intended period can cause serious eye damage.

Being Lens-Care Conscious

While a child is usually perfectly capable of wearing contact lenses, it takes help from a parent to decide on the right type. Conventional lenses require more care and discipline, while disposables aren’t as hard to maintain. Be sure to take your child to an eye exam regularly, and consider if contact lenses aren’t the best fit for them.

The Important thing to remember is that it’s completely safe for most children to use contact lenses regularly. Communicating with your child about the importance of contact lens care is the first essential step. Hopefully, they find comfort and confidence whether they choose glasses or contact lenses to see better.

Written by Dr. Rod Adams

Dr. Rod Adams is a graduate of the University of Alberta and the University of California at Berkeley School of Optometry. Dr. Adams has been in private family practice since 1997. During this time, he has developed a strong interest in pediatric optometry and laser corrective surgery options.
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