Here’s a very common question often asked of our eye doctors: “at what age can my son or daughter start wearing contacts?”
While there is no minimum age at which the eye becomes “ready” to be able to handle a contact lens, the answer to this question will vary depending on the situation. Factors we consider include the following: what the lenses will be used for, the type of prescription your child has, and his or her maturity level.
Contacts do require a higher level of responsibility on the part of the wearer. Truthfully this isn’t usually a barrier – many of our 8 year old patients take great care of their contacts. But it is something for you as the parent to consider. Contacts do have the potential to affect the health of the eyes, due to over wear, inappropriate cleaning or replacement, or due to injury from inserting or removing the lens. A child who isn’t emotionally ready to handle the extra responsibility involved with wearing contacts should probably not be wearing them.
On the other hand, innovations in contact lens technology have made them much safer and easier to use. Daily disposable contact lenses are designed to be discarded after one use. This makes the care and maintenance aspect of contacts a lot simpler, as wearers of daily disposables no longer have to keep track of replacement schedules or clean their lenses at the end of each wear. They are generally also healthier for your eyes due to the fact that the lenses are discarded before harmful deposits build up on them. For these reasons we fit a high percentage of our under-18 patients in daily disposable contact lenses – sometimes their schedules are just as busy as ours – why add another chore like cleaning contacts every day?
In some cases contact lenses can actually increase the safety aspect of your child’s eye care. For example, many of our young patients are involved in sports such as soccer. If your child is wearing non-safety certified eyeglass lenses, he or she carries a risk of injury to the eyes due to lens or frame breakage. Contact lens wear would be a great choice for a child with a high prescription involved in contact sports.
Come in and see us if you are wondering about contact lenses for your child. In all cases, make sure he or she is motivated to wear contact lenses. From there we can discuss any specific recommendations based on your child’s unique situation.
– Dr. Michele Naruszewicz