There’s a lot of contradictory advice out there on children wearing contact lenses. As long as you consult your optician regularly, children should be perfectly fine wearing contact lenses. Here’s what parents should keep in mind when choosing contact lenses for their child.
Choose lenses from a reputable brand through an optician
Always choose contact lenses from brands that are well-known and recommended by your optician. Your optician will carry out a contact lens test on your child, and will give you a prescription that you should always follow when purchasing contact lenses. Trusted retailers of contact lenses will always assume that you are up to date with your eye tests and take responsibility for your eye health, especially if you are purchasing lenses with no prescription required.
There is no ‘official’ age for a child to begin wearing contact lenses. An optician will be able to make that call for you. A child should be mature enough to understand the importance of cleaning their lenses, looking after them and understanding that these two factors are important for their eye health. Many children across the world successfully wear contact lenses every day. It is advised that parents also supervise their children when they first start to wear contact lenses.
Book an appointment for your child to see an optician, where they can assess the best brand to use, how many hours your child should wear the lenses for and the strength of the lens. If the optician feels that your child is suitable to get started, they will normally offer you a free trial, giving you a week’s worth or more of contact lenses for your child to trial before committing to them. This is to double-check that they get on with wearing contact lenses. It is a good idea to trial contact lenses when your child breaks up for school holidays, as this takes pressure off of them trying to get the lenses into their eyes when they are potentially rushing and getting ready for school.
Consider their daily activities
When selecting contact lenses for your child, it is important to consider the types of activities they will be doing during the day, and how long they will be wearing the lenses for. Are they highly involved in sports? Do they spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen? Do they swim? If your child does sports, it might be worth trying gas-permeable lenses that allow more oxygen to flow to the eye, helping them to see better when playing sports. If your child swims, daily lenses that they can take out before swimming and then replace with a fresh pair when they are finished would be a better option than monthlies.
Finally, if your child uses a computer screen a lot for school or revision, having a lens with a gel or silicone coating will help the lens to float over the eye more comfortably. A moisture-rich lens is another option, so that the lenses do not dry out during times when your child is looking at a screen for long periods of time without blinking.
Focus on their self-esteem
Eyeglasses can make many children feel self-conscious. Wearing contact lenses removes this problem. When your child starts to wear contact lenses, ask them how they feel and whether they feel more confident in contact lenses as opposed to eyeglasses. Almost 80% of teenagers feel more confident about their appearance wearing contact lenses rather than glasses. Also remember that if at any time your child wants to switch back to wearing eyeglasses because they feel more comfortable wearing them, they can do so. Wearing contact lenses is not a permanent commitment.
Ensure they understand the importance of hygiene
Before purchasing contact lenses for your child, you should always ensure that they are aware of the importance of hygiene when caring for and using their lenses. This is especially the case if you are planning on purchasing monthlies. Teach your child the importance of having freshly-washed hands when handling their lenses and putting them into and out of their eyes. They should never wash their lenses in water – always use solutions provided by their optician.
You should also ensure that they understand wearing times and the time limits for wearing their lenses each day. This is especially important, as a child’s eyes are still growing. Make sure your child always has their eyeglasses in their bag should they need them as a back-up during the day, along with a spare pair of lenses, and ensure that they never sleep in their contacts. All of these steps will keep eye infections and bacteria at bay, meaning that your child’s journey with contact lenses is always a smooth one.