FDA Issues Contact Lens Guide for Children & Teens

Some kids have vision correction needs from a very young age, such as 6 or even younger. Fortunately at-school vision tests are detecting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism at younger ages than ever, but once vision needs are detected, parents have to make a decision about what type of correction their child should have.

Many children are content with glasses, and may even like the chance to wear stylish frames, but other children will want to wear contact lenses. If your child is asking to get contact lenses, the FDA has created a page that can help you make the decision about whether your child should have contact lenses.

What’s the Right Age?

So, when is your child old enough for contact lenses? That is a difficult question, but most eye doctors don’t recommend contacts for children less than 12. Most of the benefits of contacts, such as improvement in sports and self-perception, increase after this age, and the risk tends to go down.

However, you also need to make sure your child is mature enough for contact lenses. This means they have to be good at following directions and capable of maintaining a contact lens cleaning routine. To determine whether your child is mature enough, look at how well your child does many basic hygiene activities. Do they tend to thoroughly clean their hands and face? Do they brush and floss their teeth regularly? Can they keep their hair neat if they choose to?

Potential Dangers of Contact Lenses

According to a recent study, contact lenses account for about a fourth of children who go to the emergency room for complications of medical devices. The most common complications of contact lenses are infections and eye abrasions. To avoid these risks, it’s important to make sure your child is following good hygiene practices like:

  • Always wash hands and thoroughly dry before touching contact lenses
  • Clean your contact lenses only with materials recommended by your eye doctor
  • Don’t wear lenses for too long
  • Don’t wear someone else’s lenses
  • Don’t wear lenses not prescribed by y our eye doctor
  • Never put lenses in a red eye
  • Always report itching, burning, and irritation

Complications associated with contact lenses are potentially serious and can threaten a child’s vision, so take the time to evaluate your child’s maturity before allowing them to wear contact lenses.  And keep watch to make sure they’re following proper hygiene. You should also watch for red eyes and inflammation in your child, and if you see it, recommend your child stop wearing contact lenses until you see your eye doctor.

For more information on appropriate vision correction at any age, please contact a local eye doctor.