How young is too young for contact lenses? This question has been around since the invention of soft contact lenses. As per AOA, anyone can benefit from contact lenses, even children as young as eight years old. However, at the same time contact lenses have more to do with a child’s maturity than his calendar age. Kids and parents both would often prefer contact lenses over spectacles due to obvious and certain reasons such as how kids feel confident in their appearance with contacts.
At What Age can Children Start Wearing Contact Lenses?
More than half (51%) of optometrists feel it is appropriate to introduce children to soft contact lenses between the ages of 10 and 12 years old, while nearly one in four (23%) feel 13-14 years old is a suitable age for a child to begin wearing contact lenses. One in ten doctors surveyed think it is proper to introduce 8-9 year olds (12%) or children younger than 8 (11%) to soft contact lenses. Figure below visually displays the age which optometrists say is the appropriate age to introduce a child to soft contact lenses.
Although children at age eight can be fitted with contact lenses, doctors will first suggest spectacles and gradually switch to the other approaches in vision correction. There are several other factors involved that influence doctors’ decision when suggesting an appropriate eye wear to children under 12 years. A child’s dependency for the fulfillment of his basic needs on others i.e. feeding meals, taking care of belongings and his room etc. may affect a doctor’s decision. If a child is responsible enough, smart at school, get good grades and welcoming towards accepting new responsibilities then he makes the right candidate of contact lenses despite being as young as eight years old.
Children are naturally great contact lens wearers if they are responsible. They are less likely to suffer from dry eye. Often times when required even infants are fitted with contact lenses due to problems present at birth such as congenital cataracts.
What to Consider if your Child Demands Contact Lenses?
Children active in sports are less likely to feel comfortable with spectacles for many reasons. Glasses may cause injuries. They hinder peripheral vision and keep fidgeting that makes the child feel annoyed. Contact lenses on the other hand feel comfortable, improve self-confidence & facilitates sports activities. Furthermore, when introduced at a younger age contacts can significantly slow down the progression of nearsightedness.
When making the great switch from glasses to the contacts, make sure you talk to your eye care professional and discuss your concerns in detail.
- Start with daily disposable contact lenses as there are less risks involved. Although they are slightly more expensive, daily contact lenses need zero maintenance hence easier for younger children to adjust with.
- Doctors don’t suggest night or extended wear contact lenses to kids as it carries the risk of corneal ulcers which may lead to permanent vision loss.
- Also children with seasonal allergies don’t usually make the right candidates for contact lenses as contact lens may trigger the condition due to the possible risks of surface accumulation.
- Talk to your eye doctor about Silicone Hydrogel lenses. They are great at retaining moisture, resisting protein and lipid debris while allowing 7 times more oxygen than other materials.
Contact lenses are a great invention of the century. With advancement in technology and new material, they are even more comfortable than ever. It is safe to conclude that children as young as eight make possible candidates of contacts but the best age to introduce them with is when they cross the tender age of 10.
Furthermore, the final verdict is something that comes from your eye care professional after he analyzes the child’s maturity, his acceptance towards new responsibilities & his tolerance towards contact lenses.