Your Child and Contacts: What Time Is The Right Time?

Making the transition from glasses to contacts can be a very exciting time for your child. But, is there a right time to do so? 


The topic of your child’s yearly eye checkups might not be the only optic topic of conversation in your household! Your pre-teen or teenager might be wanting to officially make the switch from glasses to contact lenses. As you schedule your next appointment with us, we wanted to share this blog with you. Think of it as food for thought, and something to discuss with your family as you start to plan for contacts. 


A recent study was done by the American Optometric Association (AOA) dedicated to this very topic. The study was focused on finding out what age groups were most likely to be fitted for their first set of contacts and for what reasons these decisions were made. The study focused on children between the ages of 8 and 17. Most optometrists reported that they usually start fitting a child for their first set of contacts between the ages of 10 and 12. Although, most of their patients who wear contacts are 18 years or older. Many of the optometrists in this study felt that the 10 to 12 year age group was a suitable age for a child to take on the responsibility of caring for their contacts. When children required eye correction at age 8 or younger, according to this study, 67% of these optometrists fit them for glasses. But, as the child gets older, the percentages of these same optometrists fitting their young patients for contacts start to overcome that of fitting them for glasses. By the time they are in the 15 to 17-year-old range, they are 66% more likely to fit them for contacts than glasses. To learn more about this study and the specifics, if you’re interested, follow the link below! 
https://www.aoa.org/documents/npr10520_executivesummarychildrenandcontactlensesstudy_final.pdf


There are a lot of reasons why an optometrist would choose to fit a child for contacts over glasses that go beyond their age. It depends on the child’s habits and hygiene, their lifestyle, and their level of responsibility. It can be due to the child’s prescription and overall need, too. If a child has a strong want or motivation to wear contacts, that will be the first consideration. If a child wants to wear them, they are more likely to take up the responsibility to properly do so. Their maturity level will be reflected in this decision, too. Contacts are a much safer option for very active children who are involved with sports, dance, and fast-paced activities. Self-esteem, too, still plays a huge role in the reasoning behind a child’s want in wearing glasses, according to the AOA. Even with how popular glasses are right now in pop culture, children are still bothered by the stigma that wearing glasses can bring.


If you’re hesitant about your child wearing contacts, there are a few things that you might want to keep in mind. According to the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association (CLMA), some contacts can slow down nearsightedness in your child’s eyes. The growth of the eye and how fast it grows can influence how quickly nearsightedness can appear. Contacts can regulate that speed and help slow the process down. According to the FDA, contacts can help improve your child’s quality of vision compared to wearing glasses. This can be an incredible boost in their overall self-esteem. Don’t worry, if your doctor doesn’t feel that your child is ready for this responsibility, they won’t fit them for contacts until they are. 


Here is some interesting food for thought. According to All About Vision, four million children under the age of 18 wear contacts in the US. A child’s eyes can tolerate contacts very well, some infants are even fitted for them. Infants will be fitted for contacts if they have eye conditions or congenital cataracts that are present when they’re born. Children are also less likely, according to All About Vision, to have or develop dry eye. Dry eyes can cause severe eye irritation when wearing contacts in adults. 


Children can be a perfect candidates for contacts, as long as they understand the responsibility that comes with them. If your child or teenager starts asking for contacts, don’t worry! We are here to help you through this transitionm and to anyswer any questions you have. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you do. We are always here for you and your family! 

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