Are Contact Lenses Safe for Children?

Nowadays, the wearing of glasses do not appear, on the surface, to have much stigma attached to it. The vast array of colorful, trendy, glamorous frames can even make some children welcome the prospect. Times have changed since, for example, the 1970’s where the only choices were black or brown.

There have also been scientific advances since the 1970’s. One of the biggest challenges facing parents, today, is when to allow their child to wear contact lenses. Common thinking has been that contact lenses are only suitable for older children and teenagers. However, the eye can actually cope with using contact lenses when the child is still very young. Some babies are fitted with contact lenses. Although this is only done if an eye condition is diagnosed when the baby is born.

Myopic vision or short sightedness is the most common eye condition amongst children. However, a recent study surveyed five hundred children with myopic vision between the ages of seven and eleven. Some children wore prescription contact lenses whilst others wore glasses. The survey concluded that there was nothing to suggest prescription contact lenses damaged the children’s eyes. Both eye corrective treatments worked, and were safe.

There appears to be no medical reason why children should not wear contact lenses.

The wearing of contact lenses is a huge responsibility for a child. The decision should be based on whether the child is emotionally and psychologically mature. A survey conducted by Prof. Jeffrey Wallen concluded that children thought the wearing of contact lenses, as opposed to glasses, improved their own self image and helped them feel more accepted by their peers. Professor Wallen argued that children should be allowed to wear contact lenses to better their self esteem. However, self esteem should not be determined by whether a child can ‘fit in’. A child should be taught to accept themselves for who they are, and not be encouraged to conform to a looks and beauty driven society.

It is up to a parent to decide whether their child’s motives for wanting contact lenses are correct. A parent also needs to make sure the child is responsible enough. A parent should look at a child’s behavior in other areas, such as, taking the trash out, doing their homework on time etc. Looking at these areas might be good pointers in deciding if your child is mature enough for contact lenses. It is ultimately a parent’s individual choice and should not be made without consulting an eye doctor. Whatever a parent decides, the freedom always exists to change his/her mind.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents of children who want contact lenses.

The editor-in-chief of Earnest Parenting, Amy is the mother of two sets of twin boys. Yes, they drive her crazy, but they also make her laugh occasionally. Amy enjoys writing, quilting, reading, and working on her burgeoning cyber empire.

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  • Ambyr Amoureuse July 2, 2009, 4:21 am

    The new research suggests that 8- to 11-year-olds can handle the responsibility of contact lenses just as well as their older peers. A three-month study included 10 nearsighted children who wore daily disposable contact lenses. By the end of the study, nine of the children had little to no problems with handling the lenses. So dear parents permit your children use it, it’s more comfortable for them.

    Reply
  • Jayson July 2, 2009, 6:18 pm

    I’ve never thought of a child wearing contact lenses either and I’m not sure if I’d be comfortable with my kids wearing them. As Maria suggested, I’d just make sure they were responsible enough.

    Reply
  • dental implants Southampton July 5, 2009, 12:52 pm

    A child should be free to get dirt in his eyes or so I think because I believe that as much as possible they should be exposed to this kind of thing so that in their own way they can learn through their mistakes and also I am a firm believer that you get stronger by being exposed to various elements…

    Reply
  • basins July 8, 2009, 7:47 am

    I don’t think contact lenses are much safer for children. Let the children be free as southampton said. That will be much better for the children’s self growth.

    Reply
  • Cha@Southampton dental implants July 13, 2009, 5:34 pm

    Children can definitely do this but always–no exceptions, with an adult supervision. Something might go wrong if they are to manage their contact lenses all the time. Until they’ve grown up enough, I think they should be monitored, the risk of damaging their eyes further is more likely to occur with improper contact lens use than a little teasing from their playmates.

    Regards,

    Cha

    Reply
  • plyometric training July 14, 2009, 1:36 am

    Eyes is really important, children must have good eye sight. If it is prescribe by ophthalmologist to use contact lenses instead of eye glass I believe that it will do boost their self confidence.

    Reply
  • dentists brighton October 29, 2009, 8:18 am Reply
  • Kristin November 3, 2009, 9:34 am

    The decision to allow a child to wear contact lenses instead of glasses is not an easy one. There is a lot of responsibility attached to it. Your post mentioned babies that can be fitted for contact lenses. There is an article on Children's Hospital Boston's blog, Thrive, about a mother's struggle to learn how to put contacts lenses in her children's eyes. There is a great instructional video that goes with it. Here is the link – http://childrenshospitalblog.org/one-mothers-st

    Reply
  • Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog February 12, 2010, 10:24 am

    I have had contacts since I was 10… I am now 30. Yes, I lost some and yes I scratched my eyes.. but after a couple times, I learned some amazing responsibility. My 7 year old would be responsible enough for contacts, but my 10 year old would not. You have to decide based upon your own child.
    .-= Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog´s last blog ..What’s Your Passion? =-.

    Reply
    • Amy February 14, 2010, 4:24 pm

      Great point, Kelli. I personally will not ever do contacts because I can’t stand anything touching my eyes. So no worries for me about remembering to manage them, lol. It’s nice too that prices are lower and the cost of losing a set isn’t as high as it used to be.

      Reply
  • janet March 20, 2010, 1:12 pm

    My 9 year old wants contacts so much and has two half hour sessions to try to teach him how to insert them he has yet to do this successfully. He is starting to get a bit thinking that he may end up not getting contacts. In his own words he says they would change his life has anybody got any suggestions on how he can learn the techinique

    Reply
  • Linda August 8, 2010, 1:17 pm

    I have a great tip for parents whose children wear contact lenses. Your child will never forget their replacement schedule with a new device called LensAlert. It is sold at Target stores. It keeps track of lens and lens case schedules. Yes – lens cases need to be pitched monthly. Fungus grows in cases and you can’t do anything about it other than throw it away and start with a fresh case monthly. LensAlert is a digital timer that sits on you sink. You just set your lens schedule (I wear 14-day Acuvue) and set your case schedule (30). Every 24 hours the device counts down one day. It is automatic you don’t have to do anything. At zero days the Zero flashes so that you know it is time for replacement. It has a little dish attached where you can hold your case. It is really a good design and it was under ten bucks at Target and included 3 contact lens cases. So that is a really good deal. But the best thing is the peace of mind that you get knowing that you are being safe with your eye health. For kids who wear contact lenses – it’s a no brainer. You don’t have to worry any more. Tip of the week or year!

    Reply
  • kontaktlinsen September 9, 2010, 5:32 am

    Contact lens adds an extra responsibility on children.So it totally depends on parents,if they think that their child is responsible enough then they can go for it.. 😀

    Reply
  • Pete October 25, 2010, 8:12 am

    Before I came across this article, I was in doubt about the safety of contact lenses for adults and most especially for children until, I read the entire article. I have to admit, with all the confessions or responses in here, I am convinced of the safety of the contact lenses and the benefits are realistic. Now I am planning to shift my daughter’s eyeglasses to contact lenses.

    Reply
  • Jermie March 15, 2011, 8:10 am

    Never thought about such a topic like kids using contact lenses and feel like it is very much unique one.

    Reply
  • Eye Doctor Frisco TX December 21, 2011, 10:28 am

    Kids want contacts for all the wrong reasons – If it’s just a passing beauty phase – it should be unencouraged

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge December 21, 2011, 11:26 am

      Excellent point! I personally have NO intention of EVER getting contacts, because I can’t stand the idea of something in my eye. So contacts in general is a repulsive idea. When I need glasses, it’ll be glasses. Period.

      I can see where a child playing sports might do better with contacts than glasses, and there may be other instances where they’re advantageous as well (say, a kid keeps losing their glasses). But I do agree that just getting them for appearance’s sake might not be wise.

      I’m glad you chimed in! It’s important for parents to consider carefully before deciding on this one.

      Reply
      • Carol December 28, 2011, 7:10 am

        Amy –
        If you don’t wear glasses you really can’t talk – Just like you style your hair and take care in your clothing, glasses have a very big affect on a person’s looks – especially teens. Imagine if you were told that you must shave your head. It’s simpler to take care of, cleaner, time consuming….
        Wear glasses for a while before you say you would never ever get contacts
        Carol

        Reply
        • Amy LeForge December 29, 2011, 8:23 am

          Carol, I say I wouldn’t wear contacts because I have a HUGE aversion to anything touching my eyes. 🙂 No offense to contact-makers or sellers or wearers…it’s just me. I have very dry eyes, but can’t stand to put drops in to treat the condition. Nor will I hold still for someone else to put makeup on my eyes. (shudder) I once had an allergist appointment and the nurse was trying to test the dryness of my eyes. I tried to behave, I really did! But I kept leaning away unconsciously.

          And to be honest, I’ve thought about the whole head-shaving option…..

          Reply
          • Robin January 4, 2012, 10:17 am

            Amy, you are so funny, but I agree with Carol – If you would have to wear glasses you will suddenly get over you fear of putting lenses in your eyes
            Robin

          • Amy LeForge January 4, 2012, 2:58 pm

            ROFL Robin, you are SERIOUSLY underestimating my aversion to having anything in my eyes! I’ve been diagnosed with dry eyes due to allergies, but can’t stand to put drops in to improve things. I’d rather live with things as they are. You should have seen me trying to behave for the test! I was very good, but ugh. It was terrible! They put litmus strips in each eye and measured the moisture. It was torture!

  • Dr. Michael McCormick January 4, 2012, 4:51 am

    Though it may seem premature to let kids wear lenses and give them all the responsibility, for some kids wearing lenses helps them become more mature as they lose responsibility and improve their self-image
    Michal

    Reply
    • Amy LeForge January 4, 2012, 2:56 pm

      Thanks for the input, Dr. McCormick!

      Reply
  • Contact Lenses February 15, 2013, 2:46 am

    Excellent information about children contact lenses. It is normal for children to use contact lenses. It depends on the purpose of using them, for instance study, sport etc. Thanks!

    Reply