When Are Kids Old Enough for Contacts?

child at eye doctor appointment
gilaxia/istock 

For an older child who really doesn't want to wear glasses, contact lenses are a good option. However, kids typically have to wait until they are teenagers to get contact lenses. Younger children usually aren't thought to be responsible enough to put them in, take them out, clean, and disinfect their lenses without their parents' help.

One study concluded that kids from age 8 to 11 years old are able to independently care for daily disposable contact lenses and wear them successfully.

The researchers did suggest that these younger children be prescribed daily disposable contact lenses so that they didn't have to clean and disinfect their lenses each day.

You may also have to consider how responsible your child is, though. If she isn't a very responsible 9-year-old and doesn't take good care of her things, then contact lenses may not be right for her. If she is responsible, then you may want to talk to her eye doctor to see if contact lenses may be a good option for her.

If contact lenses aren't an option, then you may let her pick new frames that she may be more comfortable wearing. And help her to understand why it is important to wear glasses and the benefits they provide.

Avoiding Circle Lenses

Although contact lenses that are prescribed by your eye doctor might be appropriate for your older child or teen, other types of contact lenses are not a good idea.

Cosmetic contact lenses, including decorative contact lenses and circle lenses, which can be ordered on the internet, but aren't approved for use in the United States, are not safe and should be avoided.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that "Inflammation and pain can occur from improperly fitted, over-the-counter lenses and lead to more serious problems, including corneal abrasions and blinding infections."

Sources:

American Academy of Ophthalmology News Release. Statement from the American Academy of Ophthalmology regarding Circle Lenses July 2010.

Fogel J. Contact lenses purchased over the internet place individuals potentially at risk for harmful eye care practices. Optometry - 01-JAN-2008; 79(1): 23-35

The New York Times. What Big Eyes You Have, Dear, but Are Those Contacts Risky?

Walline JJ. Benefits of contact lens wear for children and teens. Eye Contact Lens - 01-NOV-2007; 33(6 Pt 1): 317-21

Walline JJ. Daily disposable contact lens wear in myopic children. Optom Vis Sci - 01-APR-2004; 81(4): 255-9