Contact lenses, particularly gas permeable lenses, can help your child see better than when he or she wears eyeglasses. Although only 10 percent of individuals who wear contact lenses are younger than 18, there are some important factors to think about when deciding if your child is ready to advance from wearing eyeglasses to wearing contact lenses.
Consider the Responsibility Contacts Require
Whether your child is ready to make the move from eyeglasses to contact lenses doesn't really depend on their age, but on how responsible he or she is. Generally, your child needs to be able to follow detailed instructions for contact lens care and wear - without constant reminders from you.
Your child must clean the lenses regularly to prevent an eye infection. And improper lens care can lead to an eye infection, which has symptoms like increased sensitivity to light, redness, pain, tearing, and blurry vision.
Make sure your child or teen doesn't moisten his or her contact lenses with saliva, which is swarming with bacteria. Eye doctors recommend the use of disinfecting solution (rather than a saline solution or tap water) for cleaning, wetting, and storing contact lenses.
Consider the Benefits Contacts Offer
Once you determine your child is responsible enough to wear contact lenses, you should consider the benefits that contact lenses offer.
Contacts Provide a Broader Range of Vision
Eyeglasses can distort peripheral vision, in particular, the rims of eyeglasses are famous for obstructing side vision. Contacts adjust to the curvature of the eye, providing a wider field of vision. Because contact lenses sit directly on the eyes, your child will have better peripheral vision.
Contacts May Reshape the Cornea
Some contact lenses can even reshape the cornea of the eye. For example, lenses that your child can wear while sleeping may temporarily correct myopia (nearsightedness) by flattening the cornea.
The therapy - known as orthokeratology, or ortho-k - allows for clearer vision the next day without wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses. Some studies suggest that wearing these specially-fitted lenses slows the progression of myopia in children.
Your child removes the lenses the next morning when he or she wakes. Although some kids can see without wearing corrective lenses for a day or two, your child should wear the ortho-k lenses every night to get the best results.
Whether ortho-k lenses can correct your child's refractive error depends on the severity of his or her vision problem. Generally, children with mild to moderate myopia are good candidates for corneal reshaping lenses.
Contacts Increase Safety for Sports and Outdoor Activities
Unlike eyeglasses, contacts won't fall off or get broken when playing sports or participating in outdoor play and other activities. Contact lenses stay in place and won't slide down your child's nose. They also won't fog up and blur his or her vision at that crucial moment before making a touchdown, field goal, or basket. The safety goggles that many sports require also are easier and more comfortable to wear with contacts.
Contacts Enhance Self-Esteem
Contact lenses can help boost your child's self-esteem, especially during the preteen and teen years. For children who require a strong eyeglass prescription, the edges of the lenses may be thick, or the eyeglasses can make your child's eyes look unnaturally large or small. Consequently, some kids feel unattractive or are embarrassed by wearing eyeglasses.
In contrast, contacts look and feel natural. This may help your child feel more confident in his or her appearance. Children who feel better about how they look can have higher overall self-esteem.
If you feel uncertain about whether your son or daughter is ready to wear contact lenses, contact Fraser Optical to schedule an examination by an eye care professional. We will determine if wearing contact lenses will provide the right vision treatment for your child's eyes.