As parents, we hope that our children will be able to vividly experience the world. So it probably wouldn’t surprise you that many people cite vision as their most important sense.
For many parents, getting their child’s vision corrected is a normal part of child-rearing – just like braces and the first day of school. But at some point, families might start to consider contact lenses as an option.
Contact lenses are a regulated medical device and the importance of establishing good wear and care practices cannot be understated. Healthy habits reduce the risk of eye infections and complications associated with improper contact lens use.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is bringing attention to this topic as the sponsor of the second annual Contact Lens Health Week , August 24-28. As a sponsor of this initiative, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. is supporting awareness efforts to educate teens and their parents. If you are considering contact lenses for your child, here are 5 things you need to know about contact lens readiness for kids.
What are the benefits of having my child wear contact lenses?
Contact lenses can give kids a self-esteem boost. In a clinical study, 80% of parents agreed that contacts dramatically improved the quality of life and confidence of their kids, thanks to their new appearance and their new freedom in activities.* More specifically, contact lenses offered statistically significant self-perception improvements in physical appearance, athletic competence, social acceptance and scholastic achievement.
Are contact lenses safe?
When properly cared for and worn as instructed by an eye doctor, contact lenses for kids can be a safe and healthy option. Unlike eyeglasses, contacts aren’t likely to be damaged in physical activities. In addition, some contact lenses offer UV blocking and can be additional layer of protection. Since as much as 45 percent of UV rays can still reach around sunglasses to the eyes, UV blocking contact lenses can be a supplement to sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.**
How do I know my child is ready to wear contact lenses?
Clinical studies have offered statistically-validated support for helping parents recognize the signs that their child may benefit from wearing contact lenses as a primary form of vision correction. These include dissatisfaction with glasses (forgetting them or complaining about them), involvement in physical activities that require significant head or eye movement, or concerns with appearance. One study showed that when kids were less satisfied with glasses, switching to contact lenses also made them more confident scholastically.
Is there a minimum age to wear contact lenses?
The average age teens first get contacts is 13, but studies have demonstrated that children, some as young as 8 years old who require vision correction, are capable of contact lens wear and care. Wearing contacts has more to do with responsibility than age.
Will my child be able to manage the lenses?
If your child keeps their grades up, completes homework and helps around the house, they are probably ready to handle contact lens care. If there is any question, your eye doctor will help you determine if lenses are right for your child.
I hope helps you if you are considering contact lenses for your child. Contact lenses can be a safe, effective option for children in need of vision correction – but strong eye health practices are a must to help prevent serious eye-related complications. For more information on healthy contact lens wear and care, visit http://www.cdc.gov/contactlenses/.
* Source: http://www.acuvue.com/sites/default/files/content/us/pdf/CLIP_Teens.pdf#zoom=100
** Source: Rosenthal et al. Am J Public Health 1988: 78(1):72-74
Charissa Lee, OD, is Director of Education, Professional Affairs for Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. She lives in Jacksonville with her husband and two young children.