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Ask Dr. B: Is my son ready for contacts?

qmDr. B: I love my contact lenses. Do you think my son is old enough to wear them safely?

The definitive answer is: Probably. Regarding children and contacts, there is one thing that matters most: is the entire family is motivated?

There are some instances where contact lenses are necessary for children (and even babies) for proper visual development. These parents need lots of training, especially if they do not wear contact lenses themselves, but they are very motivated to do what is best for their child.

The most common reason children might benefit from contacts is that they are beginning to play sports or other activity and they find their glasses get in the way. This can be a motivating factor. (Teens often want contacts for cosmetic reasons, but that is less common for pre-teens.)

Because contact lenses require patience and consistency in caring for contacts, everyone in the house needs to be determined to help the child succeed. If either parent, or a sibling, has bad contact lens habits, these will be quickly picked up by children.

It has been thought in the past that children should be 13 years old (i.e. teenagers) before they were allowed to use contact lenses. I feel that if motivation is there, children much younger can safely wear contact lenses.

This has been shown to be true by a scientific study called the Contact Lenses in Pediatrics (CLIP) Study. The study found that children age 8 to 11 can safely wear contact lenses. The study compared 84 children and 85 teens in how long it took to teach them contact lens to use contacts and if there was any difference in safety. The CLIP study concludes, “neither children nor teens experienced problems related to contact lens wear during the study. Eye care practitioners should consider routinely offering contact lenses as a treatment option, even for children 8 years old.”

Be Well!
Dr. Nate

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.

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One response to “Ask Dr. B: Is my son ready for contacts?”

  1. visionfirst says:

    Dr. B…thank you for this great post. My eldest daughter, Amy–age 12, started wearing contacts about nine months ago and absolutely loves them. Now her 8-year-old sister has been refusing to wear her glasses and wants contacts, too! (Julie is my “early detection.” She’s been wearing glasses since age 3.)

    Thanks for the nudge that it’s okay to put an 8-year-old in contacts!

    Hope you and your family had a nice Thanksgiving. Thanks for all you do for children’s vision!

    All the best,
    Janet Hughes

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