What age should children start wearing contacts?
This is a question that parents frequently ask eye doctors when their children receive an eye prescription. Ultimately, there is no single answer to this question because every child is unique. However, there are certain factors that can influence the decision that you make for your child in regards to wearing contacts instead of glasses.
We collaborated with Dr. John Lahr, the Medical Director for EyeMed Vision Care, in regards to what to consider when making the decision between contact lenses and glasses for your child.
“Currently, over 4 million children under the age of 18 are wearing contacts in America and contact lenses are becoming more and more common for younger children. While the average age when children first get contacts is 13, there is no minimum age to start," Dr. Lahr said. “Physically, children can tolerate wearing contacts beginning at a very young age, however contacts are a responsibility that you need to ensure your child can manage."
Signs that your child may be ready for contacts
If you are considering contacts for your child, you should consider how your child handles other responsibilities as well as his or her personal hygiene. If your child successfully follows through with household chores, homework, and personal hygiene, then he or she could be a great candidate for contact lenses.
If your child seems motivated to wear contact lenses, they will most likely treat them with appropriate care and enjoy the responsibility of taking care of the cleaning and disinfection required. Some professionals have noticed that younger children are more careful with their contacts than older teenagers because younger kids pay closer attention to following instructions and the subsequent regimen of care.
Consider your child's self esteem
Meanwhile, the self-esteem of children and teenagers is also incredibly important. Young people are very critical of their physical appearance and may feel self conscious of wearing glasses. While there is nothing wrong with wearing glasses, certain children feel embarrassed or believe that glasses do not look good on them. If your child or teenager is susceptible to self esteem issues, contacts could be a great choice for them.
Benefits of wearing contacts at an earlier age
“In regards to vision improvement, recent studies have shown that contact lenses can slow down the development of nearsightedness in children in certain cases," stated Dr. Lahr. Certain contacts have successfully been able to reverse existing nearsightedness in some children, which is fantastic. These special contacts alter the shape of the cornea as the contacts are worn while sleeping.
Apart from boosting self confidence and potentially helping vision, there are other advantages to starting to wear contacts at a young age. If your child participates in sports, contact lenses have many benefits over wearing sports glasses or goggles. Sports glasses can potentially fog up and negatively affect performance. Injury can also occur if the glasses break during play. Your child will have better peripheral vision on the field or court and the contacts will stay in place while your child is running or in motion.
Why there's no minimum age for contacts
“If you are worried about costs, contact lenses for children average about $300 a year. If you believe your child is a good candidate, then contacts are definitely a good and reasonable investment to consider," said Dr. Lahr.
Contact lenses are a great option for children and the fact that there is no minimum age creates the opportunity for contacts to be an option for children of all ages. Think about how your child handle's responsibility, experiences self esteem issues, and if they play contact sports. If any of these factors relate to your child, it is not too early to consider contact lenses for him or her.