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At what age can my child wear contacts?
Medically reviewed by Sharon Copeland on 02 March 2021
There’s a general assumption that there are age limits on wearing contact lenses and that you need to be a teenager or young adult before you can start wearing them. Because of this, children are mostly prescribed glasses instead of contact lenses. In fact, this isn’t the case, as there are actually no age restrictions on contact lenses. Children can tolerate contact lenses from a young age, some infants are fitted with contact lenses due to congenital cataracts or other eye conditions that have developed at birth.
How old do you have to be to wear contact lenses?
There is no minimum age to start wearing contact lenses. However, it is important to consider whether it's a good idea for your child to start and if they can handle contact lenses appropriately. The responsibility of wearing and caring for contact lenses can be decided based on your child's behaviour and personal grooming habits. If children need frequent reminders to keep things clean and follow good hygiene practices, they may not be ready for the responsibility of wearing and caring for contact lenses. The majority of 8-11 year old children can apply and remove their contact lenses without the assistance of their parents.
Are contact lenses safe for my child?
Contact lenses are specifically designed to feel natural on the eye and offer zero interruption while correcting your vision. When it comes to contact lenses being suitable for your child, it’s a case of whether the lenses are worn correctly and your child is able to apply and remove the lenses easily, and whether they’re responsible enough to follow the hygiene and safety guidelines that accompany them.
Children are less likely to have dry eyes — a condition that can cause contact lens-related problems for adults. Plus, younger children sometimes follow instructions about contact lens wear better than teenagers and young adults, so they may have fewer problems with over-wearing their contacts or not using the correct contact lens solution.
What does my child need to know about looking after contact lenses?
It’s important your optician explains to you and your child how they should take care of their contact lenses and that this is followed throughout their contact lens wear.
Taking care of daily contact lenses
If your child is prescribed daily disposable contact lenses, then they’ll only need to familiarise themselves with how to put in and take out their contacts and remember to take them out before they get into bed at night.
Taking care of monthly or two weekly contact lenses
Alternatively, if the optician prescribes your child monthly contact lenses or two weekly contact lenses, you’ll need to make sure your child is aware of the nightly cleaning and storing routine that is required. And, as a parent, you’ll need to provide your child with contact lens solution and cases. While simple, a commitment to following this daily eye care regimen is something that as a parent you’ll need to make sure is upheld as contact lenses requires care and attention. Fortunately, it’s often the case that children and teens are actually more reliable than adults contact lens wearers in practicing good hygiene and following their contact lens cleaning and storing regime.
Why are contact lenses better than glasses for my child?
First and foremost, there’s the freedom that contact lenses afford your child. Glasses can be a constraint for children who are particularly active in say, sports or stage performance. On top of this, young people’s confidence is often closely related to their perceived self-image. If they need glasses, but are not happy with the way they look while wearing them, it can have a negative impact on their self-esteem. In turn, this can adversely affect their social life and even their performance at school.
Another potential benefit currently under investigation is the ability of contact lenses to slow the progress of short sight (myopia) in children (myopia control). Various approaches have recently been suggested, including orthokeratology and new soft lenses specifically designed to 'control' myopia. Contact lens wear can also offer a certain degree of UV protection depending on the brand of lens, although UV protective sunglasses should always be worn with contact lenses to ensure full protection.
And finally, contact lenses help to improve your child’s safety and field of vision. We all know that kids can be pretty active at times and are always running about here and there, playing sports or games outdoors. Wearing glasses during sports and activities can sometimes be a burden to them, restricting their field of vision and providing a constant distraction due to the danger of them falling off. And the biggest concern of all is if their glasses were to break during a game, putting their eyes at serious risk of damage. It’s best to listen to your optician and what they recommend as the best option for the child.
Quick links:How to insert and remove your contact lenses
When should I replace my contact lenses?
How to clean a contact lens case