The new school year is underway, you are busier than ever, and your child is asking you, “am I old enough to get contact lenses?” Wearing contact lenses has become a much more popular option for many children and teens.
When it comes to the “right age” for children and contacts, there really isn’t one, as every child or teen’s eyes are different and would need to be properly examined to determine if contact lenses are an option. Children as young as 8 years old may do well with contacts, while some teens may not be ready to handle the responsibility. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, on average, most eye care providers recommend contact lenses for children 12 years and older.
Benefits of Contact Lenses
One of the biggest benefits of contact lenses for children and teens is contact lenses can give you better peripheral (side) vision, which can be extremely helpful for sports, especially ones that require a helmet, like football or hockey, or gymnastics, where glasses can just get in the way. For teens, contacts can also be beneficial for driving, and in some cases, contacts may also offer better quality of vision than eyeglasses. Additionally, some children and teens prefer contact lenses over glasses because they are more confident with their appearance.
Disadvantages of Contact Lenses
One common disadvantage to youth wearing contact lenses is that there will likely be more frequent changes in the necessary power of the contact lenses in children younger than 18, compared to older patients. Therefore, regular follow-up visits to the doctor who fits the contact lenses, are important. Another more obvious disadvantage, other than cost, is that contacts require discipline in their care, replacement, cleaning, and storage, which can be a lot for a young child or teen.
Importance of Lens Care
The most important (and probably the hardest) part about your child or teen having contact lenses will be the upkeep. Basic lens care includes cleaning, rinsing, disinfecting, and storing with a special solution. This solution keeps lenses clean, comfortable, and free of bacteria. Children, teens, and parents should follow the exact instructions for lens care.
Here are some basic rules for your child or teen to follow:
- Wash your hands before cleaning or putting in lenses.
- Clean and rinse your contact lenses as directed. Only use products advised by the eye care provider.
- Never put your lenses in water or saliva. This can be incredibly dangerous to your vision.
- Don’t wear lenses for longer than prescribed.
- Never wear someone else’s contact lenses.
- Always have a prescription for any lens you wear.
- Remove contact lenses if the eyes are itching, burning, red, or irritated. Call your eye care provider.
- Don’t sleep with contact lenses unless they are approved for overnight use.
Talk with a Northwest Eye Optometrist
The first step in deciding if contacts are right for your child or teen is to discuss their options with an eye doctor. The doctors at Northwest Eye, who specialize in pediatric eye care, can help you determine what type of vision correction is best for your child. To schedule an appointment, call 763-416-7600 or request an appointment online.