What Is The Right Age To Begin Wearing Contact Lenses?

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As the parent of a preteen who wears glasses, you might have been fielding questions from your child about when he or she can begin wearing contact lenses. During these years, image is (or feels like) everything, so it's understandable that some children who have never balked at wearing glasses begin to feel self-conscious and ask to switch to a less visible option for their vision correction. While only your child's eye doctor can tell you whether the time is right, here are some considerations to keep in mind as you think about this decision.

Does Your Child Take Care of Hygiene Needs?

Contact lenses require a certain standard of cleanliness and good hygiene. Are you still having to remind your preteen to wash hands, brush teeth or comb his or her hair? This is a sign that he or she might not yet be ready for contact lenses.

It's important to remember that contacts need to be touched with freshly washed hands only. Also, the instructions on the bottle of contact lens cleaning solution should be followed carefully. Some require rubbing, others require rinsing, and still others need a minimum of six hours of soaking to effectively clean the lenses. You should feel confident that your preteen will be able to comply with these instructions before allowing him or her to switch to contacts.

Does Your Child Wear Makeup?

Kids who are just starting to use eye makeup might not realize how important it is to choose the right type when wearing contact lenses. Some cosmetics say "for contact lens wearers" on the packaging. Other times, you'll need to help your child choose something hypoallergenic. Tell your child to put in contact lenses before applying makeup.

While wearing or not wearing makeup is not a factor in deciding whether he or she is ready to wear contact lenses, it's an important consideration to keep in mind when showing your child how to care for his or her contacts. Many preteens begin experimenting with cosmetics, so if this time overlaps with the time that your child is learning how to use contacts as well, use caution.

Are There Any Special Considerations?

If your son or daughter plays sports, this can be a reason for allowing the use of contact lenses earlier than the preteen years; an injury from a flying ball or a tossed tennis racquet can be less likely if a kid is wearing contacts rather than glasses, which may break on impact.

On the other hand, if your child has dry eyes, it's possible that contacts can exacerbate the condition. There are gas permeable lenses available that tend to cause less dryness; talk to your optometrist about whether these are appropriate for your child.

If your preteen has a strong prescription for eyeglasses, it's possible that contact lenses will actually improve his or her corrected vision; many people find that they can see better with contacts than they can with glasses.

As long as your preteen is able to handle basic hygienic care and is willing to learn how to use the contact lenses properly, your optometrist might be more than willing to let him or her make the switch. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be permanent; it's fine for your child to go back and forth between glasses and contact lenses. Also, if the contacts don't work out, it's always possible to go back to eyeglasses for a while and then to try again with the contacts later, after he or she has had a chance to mature. Talk to your optometrist. Contact a business, such as the Eye Clinic Of Fairbanks, for more information. 

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3 March 2016

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