Are Contact Lenses Safe for Kids?

More and more kids these days require some measure of vision correction. However, it can be a challenge, at times, to get kids to properly wear them, for a variety of reasons. This makes contact lenses seem like an appealing option, though a question arises: Are contact lenses safe for kids to wear?

Are Contact Lenses Safe for Kids? in Olympia

Kids and Contacts

More and more people these days need some measure of vision correction, and contact lenses are increasingly popular among kids, with millions choosing them over glasses. 

A recent study found that more than ninety percent of participants (kids between the ages of 8 and 11) were fully capable of applying and removing contact lenses. However, this is only one aspect of wearing contact lenses.

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Why Kids May Prefer Contacts

There are a few reasons why kids might prefer contact lenses over glasses.

Comfort: Glasses may get uncomfortable or irritating to wear all day, especially at times like recess where they may be engaging in sporting activities.

One More Thing to Remember: Kids are already juggling a lot during the school day, and remembering to keep track of their glasses can be a challenge, such as if they take them off while playing sports. Glasses aren’t cheap, after all, and it doesn’t feel good to lose them.

Appearance: While enough kids wear glasses today that they are unlikely to be bullied over it, they are often self-conscious about their appearance and may be hesitant to wear glasses.

Easier to Manage While Active: As kids age and become more active, contacts are often simply more convenient to wear.

 

Advantages of Contact Lenses for Children

In line with the reasons why kids may not want to wear glasses, contact lenses provide several upsides for children.

Comfort: Children may find contact lenses to be more comfortable than glasses, since they don’t need to be worn on the ears all day.

They are Discreet: An obvious advantage of contact lenses for many is the fact that no one can tell you’re wearing contacts, a potentially important fact for many kids.

Low Maintenance and Low Risk of Damage: Generally speaking, once your contact lenses are in for the day (whether they are daily disposables or reusable), there’s nothing else that needs to be done. So no worries about losing them or them getting damaged while playing sports.

Advantages of Contact Lenses for Children
Potential Disadvantages and Risks of Contact Lenses for Children

Potential Disadvantages and Risks of Contact Lenses for Children

While there are some good reasons for kids to use contacts, there are also some risks involved that you should bear in mind.

Responsibility: You will need to consider how your child handles responsibilities, as it will be up to them to put the lenses in daily (whether reusable or daily disposable lenses). They will also need to be responsible for lens hygiene, and it is important to make sure they know how to properly and safely put them on and take them off.

Lens Hygiene: It’s extremely important to maintain proper lens hygiene, especially when using reusable contact lenses. Improper lens care and hygiene can lead to issues ranging from eye irritation to abrasions  and infections, which can be serious. In the most serious cases, ulcers of the cornea can develop, and, if not promptly treated, may lead to permanent eye damage.

Around one quarter of children who go to the emergency room each year for issues relating to medical devices are there for a problem stemming from contact lens use. If a child wishes to use contact lenses instead of glasses, it is then the responsibility of the parents to determine whether they are responsible enough, and to make sure they understand what using contacts entails. While they are very commonly worn, contact lenses are medical devices, and should be treated as such.

Potential Disadvantages and Risks of Contact Lenses for Children

Ways to Minimize Risks

There are a number of ways to minimize the potential risks of contact lenses for kids.

One way is through the use of daily disposable lenses. With these, there is no need to worry about the cleaning and maintaining of the lenses since they are replaced daily.

It is also a good idea to speak with your child if they want to switch to contact lenses, to make sure they know what they will be responsible for. Additionally, occasional reminders to put on or take off the lenses may be helpful (but you should be sure you trust your child to use them properly without constant reminders.)

It is also important to understand any other conditions your child may have that could cause issues with contact lens wearing, such as dry eye (though this is less common among children) and allergies.

Contact Lens Safety Tips

For both kids and adults, there are important contact lens safety tips that should be remembered. These include:

  • Wash and dry your hands before inserting or cleaning lenses.
  • Maintain your lenses as directed, and only use lenses and lens care products that are recommended to you by your eye doctor.
  • Don’t wear your lenses longer than they are meant for, and do not sleep with lenses in if they are not meant to be worn that way.
  • When playing sports, wear safety goggles over the lenses. Do not swim with contact lenses in.
  • If your eyes are red or irritated, do not put in your lenses, and, if you are experiencing any itching or irritation while the contact lenses are in, remove them and contact an eye care professional.
Advantages of Contact Lenses for Children
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Summary

Generally speaking, contact lenses are safe for children to wear. However, it is important to understand the potential risks involved, and to make sure your child knows what they will be responsible for if they start using contact lenses instead of glasses. Getting advice from your eye doctor can be helpful for both you and your child as well. If you have any additional questions, or if you would like to schedule a contact lens exam for your child, you can contact American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121.

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