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.