When can my child start wearing contact lenses? Dr. Troy Swanson

We’ve all heard the statement “Age is just a number.” Normally that phrase applies either to someone who’s turning 50, a rookie pitcher finally making it to the big leagues at 35-years-old, or a 64-year-old woman who swims non-stop from Cuba to Florida. But sometimes that statement also goes for fitting children with contact lenses.

When it comes to children and contact lenses, everyone has an opinion on when is the right time to consider switching from glasses. There is no specific age requirement, although as a general rule, the older the better. In most cases, the parents’ opinions matter just as much as the doctor’s recommendations. Of course, your optometrist will let you know if your child is a good candidate based on his or her prescription and eye health. But only the parents truly know how responsible and mature their child is. I rely heavily on input from parents when deciding to prescribe contacts.

I won’t hesitate to fit an 8-year-old if their parents tell me that he or she takes good care of their glasses and has good hygiene. I’ll even glance at a child’s hands during the exam to see how dirty their fingernails are. But I’ve also told a 16-year-old that I didn’t think they were ready for contacts based on how I assessed their maturity. First and foremost, the child must be motivated to wear contacts. Contact lenses are medical devices and can cause serious harm if not cared for properly. If the child doesn’t want to wear them and does it just because his parents want him to try them, the risk of problems increases. I never push a child to wear

I was 16 when I first started wearing contact lenses, and I don’t think I would have been ready at an earlier age. But I can think of many success stories of children much younger than I was who have done a fantastic job learning how to wear contact lenses properly. So again, age is an important, but not the only, factor in determining whether contact lenses may be appropriate for your child. The optometrists at MyEyes Optometry can answer any questions you may have and help you and your child decide if it’s time to make the switch from glasses to contact lenses.

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