Although parents and providers typically steer younger children away from contact lenses , a new study suggests that they may be less of a problem than many believe.
The study compares contact lens use between two groups, children 8-12 and teenagers 13-17.
The study, which was presented at the American Academy of Optometry in December, echoed a previous study, with both confirming that younger children can handle daily disposable contact lenses with minimal problems - provided that they are properly instructed on use.
The younger participants wore lenses for an average of 10.5 hours per day while the teenagers averaged a shade less at 11.5 hours per day.
Jeffrey Walline, an assistant professor of optometry at the Ohio State University, said that "Optometrists traditionally don't prescribe contact lenses to children until they are at least 12 years old, but we found that younger children are just as responsible with their lenses."
All of the participants in the study were first-time users. Not surprisingly, many liked contacts because they afforded them more freedom in physical activities like sports and dancing.
Somewhat surprisingly, there wasn't much reaction about not wearing glasses, which kind of anecdotally suggests that the ancient bias against spectacles may be diminishing.
Whether or not the bias has changed, the cost has. Eyeglasses and contact lenses are cheaper than ever.
When you factor in the price, the comfort level, the improved vision and the overall satisfaction of the test subjects (both groups), it's harder and harder to argue for the older technology of eyeglasses.
Glasses will always have a use and are an important backup, but increasingly, young people prefer contact lenses.
The study was done by optometrists at the Ohio State University, the University of Houston and the New England College of Optometry.