If your pre-teen or teen wears glasses, chances are, you’ve been discussing the option of contact lenses. As a parent, you may be wondering if your child is old enough to wear contacts.Dr. Thomas Soviar, O.D., of Sears Optical says the most common age for kids to start wearing contacts is 11 or 12. “I do have some patients who are as young as 8. Their parents wanted them to have the contacts and they’re working out just fine for them.”
There are benefits and potential consequences to wearing contacts. Knowing the facts can help you make the right decision for your child.
Contact lenses sit directly on the eye, so they offer a clearer view with less distortion. Spectacle wearers do not enjoy the same peripheral vision as their contact lens wearing counterparts. Frames on eyeglasses block the outer vision, forcing the wearer to turn their head more. Some studies even suggest wearing rigid contact lenses may slow the progression of nearsightedness.
“Contact lenses are much more conducive to playing sports than glasses,” says Dr. William Goldstein, MD, an ophthalmologist in Shelby Township, MI. ” Contacts offer better peripheral vision and they stay in place.” Perspiration on the face can cause eyeglass lenses to fog up and the frames to slide down the nose. Sharper vision and comfort can increase athletic performance. Wearing contacts also enables your child to wear protective eye wear while participating in his or her favorite activity.
It’s no secret that appearance is very important at this age. Most kids feel they look better without their glasses. Increased confidence and better vision can improve grades and the desire to become more active in school activities.
If you have problems getting your child to willingly perform such tasks as washing his hands or brushing his teeth, you may want to consider if now is a good time to start wearing contacts. Dr. Goldstein notes, “When a young patient asks about contacts, the first thing I do is turn to the parent and say ‘this cannot be another thing for you to remember at the end of the day. If it is, it’s a bad decision.’ Kids need to be able to take care of their own lenses.”
According to Dr. Goldstein, the two biggest risks behind kids wearing contacts are improper cleaning, which can cause infections, and over-wearing the lenses, maximizing risk of potentially blinding corneal ulcers.
If you wish to explore the option of contact lenses, your child will need to have an eye exam to make sure he or she is a candidate. Conditions such as allergies and dry eyes may call for special measures to make wearing contacts possible. For a child with healthy eyes, however, wearing contacts can make life more pleasant and in some cases, safer.