While glasses have evolved to become much “cooler” than they were in the past, research shows that children who require corrective lenses may benefit greatly by wearing contact lenses.
The ACHIEVE study (Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment) looked at how contact lenses affect the way children feel about themselves. Almost 500 children age 8 to 11 of varying ethnic backgrounds were split into two groups – one wearing glasses and the other wearing contacts. They were followed for three years during which they were evaluated for their self-impressions in three areas: athletic competence, social acceptance, and physical appearance.
The test used was the Self Perception Profile for Children, widely accepted as the gold standard in psychology. The results showed significantly higher self-esteem scores in all three areas in the group wearing contact lenses vs. the group wearing glasses. Improving self-esteem is linked to higher confidence levels and improved academic and athletic performance.
It’s important to note that not every child has an “issue” with wearing glasses, and in fact we see far fewer kids who are upset that they need corrective lenses now as compared to years ago. But the ACHIEVE study clearly shows the potential benefits of making contact lenses available for children, and therefore we should consider this option when appropriate.
Often parents will dismiss the notion of contact lenses for their kids, feeling they may be too young to properly care for them and therefore may damage their eyes. We remind them that contact lenses have changed significantly in technology and ease of use, and with a proper fitting from a Doctor of Optometry along with instruction on care, insertion and removal, the risks can be greatly reduced. Disposable contacts (replaced daily, bi-weekly or monthly) are a popular option and can provide clear, comfortable vision all day long with very minimal attention to care and maintenance. This has meant that more and more kids as young as even 7 or 8 are successfully wearing contact lenses.
Another benefit of contact lenses for children is myopia control. New research shows that myopic (nearsighted) children may have up to 40% reduced progression of their myopia while wearing soft bifocal contact lenses!
Be sure and speak to one of our doctors at your next visit about contact lenses for your kids.