How young is too young for your child’s first contact lenses?

As a parent, you want to do everything that you can to help your child enjoy a high standard of living. That’s why it’s always essential that you take the time to make intelligent choices on their behalf. For example, have you ever thought about getting your child contact lenses? Then you might worry about it being too young.

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In this article, we’ll break down whether or not it’s possible to be ‘too young’ to get contact lenses, and when you should consider speaking to an optician with your child.

The risks outweigh the potential upside in young children

The first thing to note is that most opticians won’t recommend the use of contact lenses for a child under the age of 12. The reason is simple: contact lenses need to be left alone to do their work and to avoid the risk of loss, injury and/or infection. Did you know that 3 percent of all children are born with a squint every year? And that’s just one condition.

Even children under 12 who are mature for their age are likely to fidget and to irritate their contact lenses. This is something you should absolutely keep in mind. However, it’s not just down to age alone. If your child shows complete maturity at a younger age, they might be recommended for contact lenses. Typically, though, you should be making this decision in conjunction with a medical professional.

Those who are looking for children to get contact lenses should always consider the lifestyle habits of your child. Does your child have good hygiene? They will need to be meticulous with contact lenses. They will need to follow the rules strictly, never miss a change, and take great care of their eyes when taking the lenses in and out.

When not changed often enough, it becomes easier for infection to spread to the eye. And a child with an eye infection is likely to be pretty short-fused and grumpy!

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That’s why you should always look to make sure that your children can actually handle the responsibility of wearing contact lenses. For the most part, most opticians would normally recommend glasses to begin with for most children.

You should be looking to evaluate your child for a week or two before deciding if they should go for glasses or contact lenses. Kids often look to cut corners in ‘boring’ life tasks and changing/adjusting contact lenses definitely falls into that category.

Deciding with your child about contact lenses

Though your child might wish to go for contact lenses today, you really do need to ‘test’ them to see if they can handle it. This is not being over vigilant; if you find that your child cannot follow instructions or cuts corners with their personal hygiene, then you are taking a needless risk together.

Responsibility has to increase significantly when they start using contact lenses, as will your supervision of the process until they get the hang of the lenses. You should always look to get the contact lenses prescribed by an optician; they can help you to come to a joint conclusion about how ready your child is to make the step up to using contact lenses.

What should I do?

Normally, the best thing to do is to start with glasses for a year or two. This gives your child the visual benefit whilst allowing them to read more and mature into the idea of using contact lenses. Before long they should feel not only confident about handling the responsibility, but comfortable with handling the challenge.

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Have a clear discussion with your child about their options. Many may want to go directly to wearing lenses right away, but it really is essential to make sure they can be trusted to wear contact lenses properly.

As a parent, it’s vital to be vigilant and not to give in because they keep on asking. As an adult contact lens wearer, life it not always straightforward, so there is lots to consider for children.

2 comments

  1. This article depicts a rather outdated opinion and philosophy. There is excellent evidence that children do very well with contact lenses and the complication rate is in fact lower than in adults, especially if the child is wearing a daily disposable contact lens. Children can be given the opportunity to wear contact lenses at any age and in fact for some eye conditions there is a huge benefit to wearing contacts, for example when one eye has a very different prescription to the other. As an optometrist who has fit contact lenses to children of all ages i can attest to the success that can be achieved. Children who are nearsighted should certainly be considered as a candidate for contact lenses that are specifically designed to slow down the progression of their nearsightedness, this needs to be discussed at a young age when their prescription is changing the most. Parents should discuss the options with their optometrist and work with them to choose the best options for their child. They are the experts after all!

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