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Are Contact Lenses A Good Choice For Kids?

Are contact lenses safe for children?

The Answer? YES

Parents frequently ask eye doctors this question when kids first express an interest in wearing contacts. But a child's maturity and ability to handle contact lenses responsibly is more important than age alone.

At What Age Can Children Start Wearing Contacts?

Four million American children under the age of 18 wear contact lenses. Physically, a child's eyes can tolerate contact lenses at a very young age. Even some infants are fitted with contact lenses due to congenital cataracts or other eye conditions present at birth.

And in a recent study that involved fitting nearsighted children of ages 8-11 with one-day disposable contact lenses, 90 percent of the kids had no trouble applying or removing the contacts without assistance from their parents.

If you are considering contact lenses for your child, take a look at how your child handles other responsibilities. Does he have good personal grooming habits, keep his bedroom and bathroom clean, and follow through with schoolwork and household chores?

If children need frequent reminders to keep things clean and follow good hygiene practices, they may not be ready for the responsibility of wearing and caring for contact lenses. But if they handle such duties well, they might be excellent candidates for contacts.

Children are naturally great contact lens wearers if they accept the responsibility for them. They typically are highly motivated to wear contacts and usually adapt well to them.

Kids also are less likely to have dry eyes — a condition that can cause contact lens-related problems for adults.

Plus, younger children sometimes follow instructions about contact lens wear better than teenagers and young adults, so they may have fewer problems with over-wearing their contacts or not using the correct contact lens solutions.

Contact Lenses For Sports

For children who are active in sports, contact lenses offer a number of advantages over glasses.

If your child wears eyeglasses for sports — even if they have impact-resistant Polycarbonate, Trivex or Hi-Vex Lenses — you still must worry about the frames breaking during contact sports, possibly causing an eye injury. And the lenses of sport eyeglasses or safety glasses sometimes can fog up during competition, affecting vision and performance.

Sport contact lenses eliminate these problems and provide other benefits as well, including an unobstructed view of the playing field or opponent for better peripheral vision that enables your child to react faster to other players and objects such as a football or cricket ball approaching from the side.

Contact lenses also remain stable on your child's eyes when he or she is running, for more accurate and stable vision.

Contact lenses, in general, offer better optics than eyeglasses. This leads to clearer vision that may improve sports performance. For example,

a cricket player might see the ball a few milliseconds sooner with crisp vision from contact lenses.

Building Self-Esteem With Contact Lenses

Many kids feel self-conscious wearing eyeglasses or simply don't like the way they look in glasses. Wearing contact lenses often can improve how children feel about their appearance, elevating their self-confidence.

Contact lenses provide better vision for sports than glasses and improve self-esteem.

In a recent study of 169 children who were wearing prescription eyeglasses and then were fitted with contact lenses, researchers found that contact lens wear "significantly improves how children and teenagers feel about their appearance and participation in activities."

Among study participants, 71.2 percent of children ages 8 to 12 and 78.5 percent of teenagers said they preferred wearing contact lenses to wearing eyeglasses.

The researchers also found that children as young as 8 years old were as capable as teenagers at wearing and caring for the silicone hydrogel contact lenses used in the study, which was sponsored by Vistakon.

In another study, 484 children ages 8 to 11 were randomly assigned to wear either eyeglasses or contact lenses for a period of three years. At the end of the study, survey scores of the children's self-perception of their physical appearance, athletic competence and social acceptance were higher for the children who wore contact lenses.

Also, keep in mind that switching your child from glasses to contact lenses need not be a permanent decision. If your child does not adapt well, or is not up to the responsibility of wearing and caring for contact lenses, he or she can simply return to wearing glasses. Contact lenses can always be tried again at a later date.

Controlling Nearsightedness With Contacts

Another reason to consider having your child fitted with contact lenses is that, in some cases, contact lens wear can slow the progression of nearsightedness in children.

In fact, a number of recent studies have found that specially designed gas permeable contact lenses and multifocal soft contacts can provide a significant amount of myopia control in many nearsighted children.

Giving your kids confidence, self-esteem and new outlook on life can change their performance in school, sports and life. Come in, call, message and email us at North Shore Optical Studio today to find out more!

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