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By Jonathan Isgrig, OD

Contact lenses can be worn at any age. There is no physical age limit and when to start wearing contacts is determined by each child’s unique situation and whether they have a condition that would limit this option. Most children begin wearing contacts between 11-15 years of age, but even infants are occasionally fit with contacts when necessary.

Most children become interested in contact lenses because they no longer want to wear glasses, either due to the way glasses look or the discomfort of the glasses on the face. Contact lenses are usually very comfortable to wear but may take a couple of weeks to get used to. They are also a convenient option for children who are in sports, although they are not a substitute for safety eyewear.

Our 13-year old patient, Nola, made the decision to switch from glasses to contacts recently and has been thrilled! “I was ready to change it up a bit. It’s definitely more convenient, especially when I’m working out. Plus I’ve had a confidence boost with my change in appearance too,” Nola stated.

The choice of whether or not a child is ready to start wearing contacts depends on her maturity level since contacts are a medical device that come with responsibility. This should be discussed among the parent, child and eye care professional together, as daily care, as well as yearly eye exams, are necessary. Children with independent, responsible personalities handle contacts the best, as opposed to children who need frequent, daily reminders for chores and activities.

Sometimes children have better vision in contacts as opposed to glasses, especially if they have a high prescription. Contact lenses exist in a wide variety of styles including daily replacement lenses, two-week or monthly replacement lenses and also colored lenses. The majority of contact lens wearers choose a soft material lens.

For new contact wearers, Nola says, “Keep your nails trimmed short! The hardest part initially when taking lenses in and out is worrying that you will scratch your eye. Maintaining and keeping the lenses clean is not a big deal either.”

Children can occasionally be unsuccessful during their first attempt at wearing contacts. They should not become discouraged, as they can try again at a later date. Sleeping in contact lenses is not recommended, as this can increase the risk of eye infection.

If your child is interested in contact lenses, call your eye care professional and set up an appointment. Holly, Nola’s mom, says of her recent experience at Eye Surgeons, “We would recommend Eye Surgeons to friends and family because we felt like we were in good hands. Everyone was knowledgeable and kind. Nola was nervous about putting them in and taking them out, and they walked her through with encouragement and patience.”

BIO: Dr. Isgrig is an optometrist with Eye Surgeons Associates and practices at our Silvis, Illinois clinic. He earned his doctorate from the Indiana University School of Optometry in Bloomington, Indiana.

The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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