From Glasses To Contact Lenses – When Should Your Child Make The Switch?

Posted on: 3 June 2015

If you have a child who wears glasses, chances are either you or your child has considered what it would be like to wear contact lenses instead. But how do you know when your child is old enough? It's not just a question of handling the responsibilities that come with contact lenses, but there's the question of the eye's maturity, as well. Some common concerns about kids and contacts are addressed below to help you make the most informed decision – with your child.

What is a Good Age to Consider Contact Lenses?

There is no set age limit for wearing contact lenses. This decision depends on you, your child, and your optometrist. Some optometrists think they can be beneficial as early as 8 years old, while others would prefer to wait until children are reaching puberty at 12 or 13. Despite varying age recommendations, there are specific indicators that your child might prefer or need contact lenses. Some signs to be aware of include:

  • Your child feels uncomfortable wearing glasses or is afraid of being teased
  • Your child is dissatisfied with their appearance
  • Your child is involved in sports and glasses are a safety issue

Don't be surprised if your child or optometrist approaches you about wearing contact lenses. But if you notice any of these signs and haven't talked about a glasses alternative yet, it might be time for you to bring up the subject.

Is Your Child Ready for the Responsibility?

As a parent, you know that some things simply aren't worth the hassle if your child isn't ready for the responsibility that comes with it. Getting a dog, for example. But unlike getting a dog, you can't take on the responsibility of wearing contact lenses if your child slacks off. So, what are some of the duties of lens wearers? Here's a short checklist:

  • Ability to touch eyes without scratching them
  • Willingness to wash hands to avoid spreading germs or getting an eye infection
  • Proper storage of reusable contact lenses
  • Remembering to remove them before bed
  • Ability to keep track of when contacts need to be replaced

If you think your child can check these obligations off, then you can start talking more seriously about this change!

Have Your Child's Eyes Developed Enough for Contact Lenses?

Only a few years ago, optometrists discouraged lens wear for those whose eyes were still changing drastically. Lenses were given only to those with more stable eyesight – which often ruled out children and young adults. Another concern was that if you had an astigmatism, you weren't a candidate for contacts. But that's not the case any more. Contacts might actually benefit those with changing eyesight by slowing down the rate of change (studies found it helpful in nearsighted patients). And there are specific contacts designed for astigmatism. But if you worry that your child isn't ready to make the switch over, here are some ideas to try if they keep pestering you about it:

  • Offer contacts on an as-needed basis, such as for sports or school only
  • Set a date a few months away for a fitting with the optometrist and use that time to prepare your child
  • Prepare your child for the responsibility of contact lenses by making a rule about washing hands before eating.

There's a lot that you can do as a parent to prepare your child for contact lenses. As long as your child is interested in them, talk with an optometrist at a clinic like The Eye Center about contact options. Don't force your child, though; wait until they are ready and excited for this change.