Is Your Child Ready for Contact Lenses?
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More than three million children in the U.S. wear contact lenses. How can parents determine if a child is ready to use contacts?
Who can wear contacts?
Eye-care professionals receive contact lens requests for children as young as 8, but a large cohort of doctors support contacts use around ages 12-13. Criteria include the child’s maturity, ability to perform proper hygiene and motivation to wear the lenses.
Kriti Bhagat, OD, contact lens specialist and clinical and academic instructor at The Eye Institute at Salus University in Philadelphia and Elkins Park, PA, notes that the “parents’ role in kids’ lenses is vital.” She won’t prescribe contact lenses without parental approval.
Conversely, Sharon Lehman, MD, FAAP, FAAO, chief of ophthalmology at Nemours Children’s/duPont Hospital in Delaware and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ ophthalmology section, hesitates to provide contacts if only the parents want their child to use them. She emphasizes that children should be competent wearers who don’t need to rely on an adult — like the school nurse — for routine help.
Who shouldn’t wear contacts?
Children with inflammation, autoimmune diseases, strong allergies and dry eyes may not tolerate contact lenses well. Also, eye doctors generally counsel children with major permanent or structural deficits in one eye to wear the optimal protection for the good eye — often special glasses, instead of contacts.
Learn the advantages and disadvantages of contact lenses on page 2.