Written by Alexa Kaczka
As children grow up and become more image-conscious, they may decide they want to swap their glasses for contact lenses. Even if they do not worry too much about their appearance, contact lenses could still offer advantages over spectacles if a child is physically active or plays a lot of sports. Help has been given recently in deciding whether children are ready for contact lenses and how to prepare them for the responsibility of using them.
In one article on Empower Her, Denise DeWitt addressed the issue of contact lenses for youngsters. She noted that parents need to assess how responsible their children are before deciding whether or not they can be trusted to maintain contact lenses.
Ms DeWitt noted that daily disposable lenses are easier to use but hands still need to be washed. She reminded parents that children will have to clean and handle their contact lenses and should be ready for this responsibility.
Age alone is not necessarily a deciding factor.
"Some ten-year-olds are more mature than some 15-year-olds," Ms DeWitt pointed out.
Parents may also realise that contact lens technology has advanced since they were children. While in the past there may have been problems with hard contact lenses that did not let oxygen through to the eye, lenses now are gas permeable or soft.
In a recent study commissioned by Acuvue Contact Lenses and carried out by Fairfield Research, the average age that parents felt children should start wearing contact lenses was found to be 13.
But parents also thought that girls would be ready for the responsibility sooner than boys, as well as reporting that girls were more likely to be keen on the idea.
Some 18 per cent of people with daughters with glasses said the girls were very interested in wearing contact lenses, but only eight per cent of those with sons reported the same.
But most (56 per cent) of parents of children of either sex who wear glasses said that their child was interested in the possibility.
Optometrist Mary Lou French stated: "The growing body of research in children"s vision correction continues to demonstrate that contact lenses provide collateral benefits to children beyond simply correcting their vision, and that concerns about contact lens problems in these age groups are largely unfounded."
Advances in contact lens technology have also been beneficial for youngsters.
Erin Hayes recently spoke to MyFoxHouston about her experiences of vision correction. She had to get glasses and switched to contact lenses three years later.
Her mother had initially been uncertain, recalling her own difficulty in wearing contact lenses when she was younger. But now that the technology is better and daily disposable lenses exist, Erin has had a much better experience than her mother had been prepared for.
The youngster has improved her academic and sports performances.
Earlier this month, Canadian publication the Edson Leader reported expert opinion that children are increasingly choosing to wear contact lenses.
Debbie Burgess of Focus Optical and J-Ann Rupert of Edson Pearl Vision both noticed the trend and said soft contact lenses are the more popular option.
Ms Rupert said that children could be ready for contact lenses at nine, although Ms Burgess believed that it is better for them to wait until they are 12.
In addition, Ms Rupert did not recommend that such young children wear contact lenses on a daily basis.
Among the benefits Ms Burgess noted was that athletic children would do better with contact lenses.
Contact lens maker Acuvue has dismissed the idea that teenagers cannot wear contact lenses as a myth.
It says that children as young as eight may be suited to wearing contact lenses and that the average age to start is 13.
"Successful lens wear depends more on responsibility and attitude than age," the firm explains.
It has also refuted the idea that contact lenses could worsen short-sightedness in children, citing a recent study of wearers aged eight to 11 that showed no greater advancement of the condition in contact lens wearers than in those who use glasses.
by Emily Tait