Last updated on June 7th, 2017 at 07:04 pm
Are contact lenses safe for children? Parents regularly ask eye doctors this question when kids first reveal an interest in using contacts. However a child’s maturity and capability to handle contact lenses properly is more vital 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 endure contact lenses at a really young age. Even some infants are fitted with contact lenses due to hereditary cataracts or other eye conditions present at birth.
And in a current research study that involved fitting nearsighted children of ages 8-11 with one-day disposable contact lenses, 90 percent of the kids had no difficulty using or removing the contacts without support from their parents.
If you are thinking about 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 tidy, and follow through with schoolwork and household chores?
If children need regular reminders to keep things tidy and follow great hygiene practices, they might not be prepared for the obligation of wearing and caring for contact lenses. However if they deal with such tasks well, they might be outstanding candidates for contacts.
Children are naturally excellent contact lens wearers if they accept the obligation for them. They generally are highly inspired to wear contacts and typically adjust well to them.
Kids likewise are less likely to have dry eyes — a condition that can cause contact lens-related problems for adults.
Plus, younger children in some cases follow directions about contact lens use much better than teens and young adults, so they may have fewer issues with over-wearing their contacts or not utilizing the correct contact lens options.
Contact Lenses For Sports
For children who are active in sports, contact lenses offer a variety of benefits over glasses.
If your child uses eyeglasses for sports — even if they have impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses — you still need to stress over the frames breaking during contact sports, possibly causing an eye injury. And the lenses of sport spectacles or safety glasses in some cases can fog up during competitors, affecting vision and performance.
Sport contact lenses remove these issues and provide other benefits as well, consisting of an unobstructed view of the playing field for much better peripheral vision that enables your child to react faster to other gamers and things such as a soccer ball or baseball approaching from the side.
Contact lenses also stay steady on your child’s eyes when he or she is running, for more accurate and stable vision.
Many contact lenses, particularly gas permeable (GP) lenses, use better optics than glasses. This leads to clearer vision that may enhance sports efficiency. For example, a baseball player may see the ball a couple of milliseconds quicker with crisp vision from contact lenses.
Building Self-Esteem With Contact Lenses
Numerous kids feel awkward using glasses or simply don’t like the method they search in glasses. Wearing contact lenses frequently can enhance how children feel about their look, elevating their self-confidence.
In a recent study of 169 children who were wearing prescription glasses and then were fitted with contact lenses, scientists found that contact lens wear “considerably enhances how children and teenagers feel about their appearance and participation in activities.”
Among research study individuals, 71.2 percent of children ages 8 to 12 and 78.5 percent of teens said they preferred using contact lenses to wearing spectacles.
The scientists also discovered that children as young as 8 years old were as capable as teenagers at using and looking after the silicone hydrogel contact lenses used in the study, which was sponsored by Vistakon.
In another research study, 484 children ages 8 to 11 were arbitrarily designated to wear either spectacles or contact lenses for a period of three years. At the end of the study, survey ratings of the children’s self-perception of their physical appearance, athletic proficiency and social approval were greater for the children who used contact lenses.
Likewise, bear in mind that changing your child from glasses to contact lenses need not be an irreversible decision. If your child does not adapt well, or is not up to the obligation of using and looking after contact lenses, he or she can merely return to wearing glasses. Contact lenses can constantly be attempted again at a later date.
Managing Nearsightedness With Contacts
Another reason to consider having your child fitted with contact lenses is that, sometimes, contact lens wear can slow the development of nearsightedness in children.
In truth, a variety of current studies have found that specially created gas permeable contact lenses and multifocal soft contacts can offer a significant amount of myopia control in many nearsighted children.
Also, a customized method of fitting stiff gas permeable contact lenses called orthokeratology (or “ortho-k”) has been proven successful in reversing existing nearsightedness in myopic children. The method uses specially developed GP lenses that alter the shape of the cornea while the lenses are used at night during sleep. In the early morning, the lenses are removed, and when effective, ortho-k makes it possible for a nearsighted individual to see clearly without glasses throughout the day.
The correction of myopia offered by ortho-k, however, is only temporary. The cornea-reshaping lenses need to be used regularly during sleep to preserve excellent uncorrected vision during the day.
Just recently, scientists in New Zealand reported that experimental “dual-focus” soft contact lenses had the ability to slow the progression of nearsightedness in children ages 11 to 14, compared with regular soft contact lenses.
The dual-focus lenses featured a central optical zone that completely corrects myopia, surrounded by peripheral zones of lesser correction. The design of the lenses was based upon previous research that suggests peripheral defocus in the retina may reduce the lengthening of the eyeball during childhood that is related to myopia development.
Over the course of 20 months, the dual-focus lenses decreased myopia progression by 30 percent or more in 70 percent of the children participating in the study, while providing visual skill and contrast level of sensitivity equivalent to standard soft contact lenses.
Though the dual-focus lenses in the research study are not yet FDA-approved for use in the United States, scientists are continuing to deal with new contact lens designs that quickly may be prescribed by eye doctors to lower the development of myopia in children.