Contacts and Kids
Are Contact Lenses Safe for Kids?
Can kids wear contact lenses? In the past, contact lenses were reserved for kids age 12 to 13 and up. However, researchers have now found that children as young as 8 can successfully wear contact lenses.
About contact lenses for kids
Switching from glasses to contact lenses at a young age can be a big adjustment. The most successful experience happens when both the parent and child are committed to their wear and care.
Parents’ main concern is often safety, and rightly so. Because contacts sit directly on the eye, they can introduce infection. So are contact lenses ever safe for kids? The answer is yes, if your child wears them correctly. Wearing, storing and handling contact lenses improperly is a major factor in lens-related infections, but contacts can be a good option if your child does these things correctly.
Just like for adults, safe contact lens wear for kids means:
- Proper fitting and regular checkups by an eye care professional
- Good contact lens hygiene
- Stopping contact lens wear and contacting an eye doctor about eye itching, burning, redness or irritation
Before getting contacts, your child needs a complete general eye exam. Learn about kids’ eye exams.
Why contact lenses for children?
Some children start wearing contacts at a very early age for medical reasons. For example, babies born with certain rare eye conditions need contact lenses as their vision develops. For kids who need regular vision correction, contacts have some advantages over eyeglasses, including:
- Better peripheral vision (side vision)
- Better overall vision—Some contacts, such as rigid gas permeable (“hard”) contacts, reshape the front of the eye slightly during wear
- No fogging up, slipping or breaking during sports or play
- Better self-esteem—many kids feel self-conscious about wearing glasses
What if my child has allergies?
If your child has seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, ask your eye doctor about contact lens wear. Many people with allergies wear contacts successfully, but if red, irritated eyes are among your child’s allergy symptoms, contacts could be uncomfortable or worsen the problem.
Tips for kids wearing contact lenses
Good contact lens hygiene is essential to keep contact lenses safe for kids and adults. To avoid infection and other problems, never:
- Trade or share contact lenses with someone
- Store lenses in anything but fresh, sterile contact lens solution
- Put a contact lens into a red or irritated eye—This can be a sign of infection caused by contact lens use, or pink eye, a common condition in kids.
- Shower or swim in contact lenses—water can transmit a serious infection
The best contact lenses for kids
Good contact lens options for kids include daily disposable lenses, which do not require nightly cleaning, and rigid gas permeable lenses, also called RGPs. These are today’s “hard contacts,” so they are sturdier and less likely to tear than soft contacts. The RGP materials of today also allow nearly as much oxygen to reach the eyes as soft contacts.
Daily disposable lenses are a great option for children because kids don’t have to clean and disinfect them at night. Instead, your child simply throws away the dirty lenses each night and puts on fresh sterile lenses every morning.
Some eye care professionals specialize in fitting contact lenses. Oregon Eye Specialists has several contact lens specialists who can help you and your child choose the best contact lenses.
Learn more about contact lenses for children
Is your child asking about contact lenses? Ask an eye doctor if they could be an option, now or in the future. At Oregon Eye Specialists, we see patients of all ages and are always accepting new patients. We also have several contact lens specialists.
Learn more about contacts and kids