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Is Your Child Ready for Contact Lenses?

I was 11 years old when I began wearing glasses.  While wearing glass was exciting at first, the novelty wore off pretty quickly.  My glasses bothered me when I played sports with my friends and I was always in fear of breaking or losing them.  Still, when I first asked my mom, at the age of 12, if I could get contact lenses she said no way!  She was not convinced that I was ready to handle the responsibility of contact lenses.

After talking with our optometrist, my mother decided that we’d spend some time learning about the proper care of contact lenses.  In the meantime, she would watch for signs that I was ready to handle this new responsibility.

As it turns out, the same advice that my optometrist gave my mom twenty-something years ago is still good advice today.  Before your child makes the move from glasses to contacts there are several things you should check to make sure your child is ready for contact lenses.

Four Ways to Tell if Your Child is Ready for Contact Lenses

1.  Is your child generally responsible?

It’s true that contact lenses require your child to be responsible.  While there are different types of contact lenses that require levels of care, all contact lenses must be properly inserted and removed from the eyes and kept clean.  That may mean cleaning daily or remembering to removed extended wear lenses on time.

If your child is generally a responsible child, he or she might be ready for contact lenses.  Do you trust your child to remember to remove and clean his or her contact lenses each or to remove and throw away extended wear lenses after the appropriate amount of time?

If you are constantly reminding your child to clean up after him or herself, to turn in school assignments or to do his or her chores you might want to wait a little longer before allowing your child to wear contact lenses.  Have your child first show you that he or she can maintain good daily habits so that you can have the confidence that he or she can handle the responsibility of contact lenses.

2.  Does your child understand the importance of hygiene and safe contact lens wear and care?

Although contact lenses are among the safest and most popular forms of vision correction, they do require proper care.  The infographic below from the American Optometric Association shows just how important it is to follow the directions given by your child’s optometrist for the proper wear and care of contact lenses.[gview file=””]

If your child doesn’t take contact lens care seriously, it could have negative consequences on his or her eye health.  When talking with your child about making the move from glasses to contacts, be sure to stress the importance of safe, healthy eye and contact care.

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3.  Is Your Child at Least Ten Years Old?

Most optometrists agree that a child should between the ages of 10-12 before wearing contact lenses for the first time. While it possible for a child even younger than ten to wear contact lenses, you may find that your child is not ready for the guidelines I talked about in #1 and #2 above.

As always, be sure to discuss your child’s options with his or her optometrist if you are concerned that your child may be too young for contact lenses.

4.  Does Your Child Play Sports?

If your child is an athlete, it may be more practical for him or her to wear contact lenses instead of glasses.  Glasses can be damaged or get in the way when a child is involved in sports.  Sweating can cause glasses to slip and certain helmets or other sports equipment might not fit correctly with glasses.

If your child’s glasses are interfering with his or her athletics, talk with your child’s optometrist about switching to contact lenses.

Tips for Parents of Children Who Wear Contact Lenses

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Once you and your optometrist have decided that your child is ready for contact lenses, you must commit to helping your child properly care for his or her eyes.  Here are a few important tips for parents of contact lens wearers.

  • Take your child for yearly eye exams.  Optometrists are trained to perform comprehensive eye exams, diagnose and treat eye disease, and look for symptoms of other conditions that affect the eyes.
  • Only buy contact lenses with a prescription from your child’s optometrist. Even decorative lenses should be purchased with the guidance of a optometrist and not purchased illegally.
  • Be sure that your child washes his or her hands before handling contact lenses and keeps his or her contact lens care supplies fresh.  This means replacing contact lens cases at least once every three months and never reusing old solution.
  • Never allow your child to wear contact lenses for longer than instructed by your child’s optometrist.  Replace contact lenses on time all the time.

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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