When your child or teen can handle the responsibility, they’re a candidate for contact lenses. This is what you need to know about young people and contact lenses.
Mum, I hate wearing glasses. Dad, I want to get contacts. Sound familiar? Contact lenses are comfortable, convenient and stylish, so it’s no surprise children and teens want to get in on the act, too. Here’s how to figure out if your child or teen is ready for contact lenses.
Bupa optometrist Karen Makin says contact lenses offer children and teens two main benefits: greater freedom to play sport and a self-confidence boost.
“Especially with teens, contact lenses give them a bit more flexibility in being able to be active without having to worry about glasses getting in the way,” she says.
“And, of course, confidence is a big thing with some children, and wearing contact lenses instead of glasses can really help with self-esteem.”
And just like with adults, contact lenses can help children and teens with some eye conditions to achieve a better visual outcome.
“With short-sightedness, for example, sometimes contact lenses are recommended to try and manage the progression of the condition,” says Makin. “So the child might not have even thought about contact lenses, but the optometrist might suggest them for a therapeutic or an optical reason.”
The simple answer is it depends on the young person. With parental help, some children as young as seven or eight are ready, while others may need to wait until they’re older before taking on the responsibility of contact lenses, says Makin.
“The decision around the wearing of contact lenses needs to consider a child’s maturity,” she says. “If a child is going to wear contact lenses, they need to understand the importance of washing their hands before putting them in and taking them out. They need to take them out when they’re supposed to and not wear them for longer than prescribed.”
It’s also important that your child or teen knows not to swap lenses with other kids and to never use saliva to moisten a lens.
When children and teens first start wearing contact lenses, it may take some time to get the hang of inserting and removing them. Makin says it’s important to teach children to be independent.
“Most of the time we want the child to be able to insert and remove the lenses themselves,” she says. “It’s especially important to learn to remove the lenses because if they’re at school or somewhere where the parent is not, and something happens, they need to be able to take the lenses out.”
As for how to get contact lenses for your child or teen, Makin says the process is much the same as for adults.
“Book an eye test and you’ll be advised if contact lenses are suitable for your child,” she says. “If you get the go-ahead, your child will get a prescription and a trial pack of lenses. They’ll learn how to put them in and take them out, and how to care for them.”