Contact Lenses For Children: Right Age To Wear & Safety Tips

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The benefits of contact lenses for children are often not considered by parents due to apprehensiveness over improper handling of these lenses, causing serious eye injuries. However, the benefits of using contact lenses must be studied before making a decision.

Before introducing children to contact lenses, it is important to know the types that may be suitable for them and how to use them carefully.

Read the post to understand how to introduce contact lenses to children and the important tips to keep in mind to ensure they handle them carefully.

At What Age Can Children Wear Contact Lenses?

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), children can begin wearing contact lenses between eight and 12 years (1). Further, a review of several studies indicates that soft contact lenses are relatively safe for children as young as eight years (2). Ensure you educate your child about maintaining proper hygiene while using the contact lenses.

Types Of Contact Lenses For Children

The following are the different types of contact lenses for children (3).

1. Soft contact lenses

  • Easiest to adapt to and comfortable
  • Available as daily, biweekly, and monthly disposable lenses
  • Most frequently prescribed for children

2. Rigid gas permeable contact lenses

  • Also known as hard lenses
  • Provide a clear vision for several vision conditions
  • Have high oxygen permeability, and therefore, lower risk of eye infections
  • Might take longer to adjust when compared to soft lenses

3. Toric lenses

  • Available as standard designs and can also be specially customized.

4. Bifocal/multifocal contact lenses

  • Used for children with focusing difficulties
  • Used to prevent myopia progression
  • Contain different lens powers for near and distant vision

5. Ortho-k lenses

  • Used for children with myopia
  • Can be worn overnight
  • Help in reshaping the cornea to enable better vision during the day
  • Help reduce the progression of myopia

6. Scleral lenses

  • Used for patients with irregular corneal shape

For children under 12 years, reusable contact lenses are the most preferred option as they help avoid contamination issues that may arise from insufficient disinfection.

Risks Of Contact Lenses For Children

Parents can often be apprehensive about introducing contact lenses to children due to the fear of improper handling. You must check how responsibly your child handles other things, especially personal hygiene, before deciding whether to opt for contact lenses for your child or not.

The following are the common undesirable behaviors that may lead to eye risks in children using contacts.

  • Wearing someone else’s lenses
  • Using saliva to moisten the lens
  • Not following the instructions given by parents or the doctors regarding the care of lenses
  • Wearing cosmetics or other colored lenses bought online or from flea markets without a valid prescription
  • Not removing the lenses at night

A study among children found that of its 70,000 respondents who go to the emergency room each year for injuries and complications due to medical devices, one-fourth of them are related to contact lenses. Infections and eye abrasions are common problems that may arise from contact lenses.

Severe infections or ulcers of the cornea are the most severe risks associated with contact lenses. The cornea is the front layer of the eye that protects it from germs, dust, and other harmful particles. Negligence in taking the necessary precautions when using contact lenses can increase the risk of ulcers.

Also, children prone to seasonal allergies might not be good candidates for lenses as the lenses may increase the burning or itching (1).

Contact Lens Safety Tips For Children

The FDA recommends the following safety tips for children using contact lenses (1).

  • Clean and disinfect contact lenses as per the given instructions.
  • Use products and solutions recommended by your doctor.
  • Do not expose your contact lenses to water, saliva, or other liquids.
  • Replace your lenses as per manufacturer instructions, and do not use them for longer than prescribed.
  • Do not sleep wearing the lenses until permitted by the doctor.
  • Avoid wearing someone else’s lenses or sharing lenses.
  • Always carry a prescription of lenses that you wear.
  • Wear protective eyeglasses over lenses while indulging in any sports or other activities.
  • Apply eye makeup only after inserting the lenses, and remove the lenses before removing your makeup.
  • Always keep a pair of glasses as a backup.
  • Do not wear contact lenses if you have red-eye.
  • Contact your doctor if you notice any unusual redness, itchiness, irritation, or burning sensation in your eyes.

Things Doctors Consider When Prescribing Contact Lenses To Children

Experts at the American Optometric Association suggest the following tips for doctors while prescribing contact lenses to children (4).

1. Children must be asked to wear glasses before wearing lenses.

Wearing spectacles will motivate children to become efficient and responsible enough for wearing and caring for contact lenses.

2. Look for myopia control options.

Children with progressive myopia should be given contact lenses that can help with myopia control. Contact lenses such as orthokeratology and peripheral plus soft lenses can help slow down the progression of myopia.

3. Take some extra chair time.

It is recommended that the doctor spends enough time explaining how to insert and remove lenses to the children.

4. Emphasize good hygiene.

Good hygiene can help in reducing the risk of eye infection in children who use contact lenses. Doctors should take enough time to explain the role and importance of good hygiene in children wearing contact lenses.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the benefits of contact lenses for kids?

Contact lenses can be better for sports activities as they won’t break, unlike eye lenses and frames (1).

2. Do contacts improve eyesight for kids?

Specific contact lenses improve the quality of vision when compared to eyeglasses. They are primarily helpful for severely nearsighted children (1).

3. Can children shower or swim with contact lenses?

You should not allow your children to shower or swim when wearing contact lenses. Most waters are not germ-free; these activities might contaminate the contact lenses and cause serious eye infections such as Acanthamoeba keratitis (5).

4. Are contact lenses painful?

No, contact lenses will not cause pain but might hurt until your child gets used to them. If there is severe pain or discomfort when wearing contact lenses, contact a doctor immediately as it may indicate the presence of an eye infection.

Although there are various contact lenses for children, you may be apprehensive about introducing one to your child. However, it is ideal to talk with a doctor if your child is at risk of allergies and infections. Also, a doctor will advise if your child could receive a contact lens and, if yes, what is the most suitable lens for them. Suppose your child already uses contact lenses, you should have them follow the essential hygiene practices and constantly remind them of the necessary precautions to facilitate its safe use.

Key Pointers

  • The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that children can start wearing contact lenses between eight and twelve years.
  • The different contact lenses include soft, toric, and ortho-k lenses.
  • Wearing other people’s lenses, moistening lenses with saliva, and wearing low-quality lenses are some factors that may affect the eyes.
  • Washing your hands properly before using lenses, disinfecting them before each use, and avoiding them during an eye infection are some safety tips to follow.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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Dr. Ritika Shah

Dr. Ritika Shah is a certified lactation counsellor from iNational Health Care Academy, Singapore and a dental surgeon with more than seven years of clinical experience across various cities in India. She did her graduation in Dentistry from KM Shah Dental College. During her clinical practice, pediatric dentistry was her particular area of interest, and she constantly thrived to inculcate... more

Dr. Arva M Bhavnagarwala

(MBBS, DNB)
Dr. Arva Bhavnagarwala has completed her post-graduation from Masina Hospital in Mumbai. She has worked at Jaslok Hospital and Research Center as a Clinical Associate. Currently, she practices Pediatrics at her private clinic in South Mumbai and is attached to Masina Hospital as a consultant pediatrician. Dr. Bhavnagarwala is a National Advisory Board Member of Indian Pediatrics, the official publication... more

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