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In years past, the average starting age for children wearing contact lenses instead of glasses was around 13. However, that number has dropped significantly in the last few years. Children as young as eight years old can wear contact lenses without any physical problems, which causes many parents to ask, “Is my child old enough?” and, “Should I be considering contacts for my child?”

WHY SWITCH TO CONTACTS?

Why are so many parents going to the eye doctor for contact lens prescriptions for their children? With soft lens technology, contacts are more comfortable than ever, making them easier on children’s eyes. If your child is active and participates in sports or dance, wearing glasses can really get in the way.

Glasses can fall off or become broken during play or practice. Keeping track of them and keeping them on can be a distraction during big games. Plus, losing a contact on the field is a lot less dangerous than a pair of glasses breaking on an impact to your child’s face. You wouldn’t ever want to think about your son or daughter getting hit in the face, but kids fall down and soccer balls go flying in the wrong direction sometimes. Wearing glasses while playing sports can be a real hazard.

A QUESTION OF MATURITY

Basically, by the age of eight, your child will most likely be physically developed enough to wear contacts without experiencing any problems. Your eye doctor can tell in an eye exam whether this is the case or whether your child needs to wait another year or two. However, physical development isn’t the only concern. 

Wearing contact lenses means putting up with a fair amount of discomfort and irritation as eyes adjust to their use. It also entails a good bit of maturity and responsibility. Your child will have to remember to take their contacts out at night and put them in new cleaning solution.

Your child will also have to keep track of their contacts case and bring cleaning solution with them to school. If their eyes become irritated during the day, they’ll need to know what to do about removing their contacts, storing them, and going back to wearing glasses for the rest of the day.

A FEW AT-HOME TESTS

Is your child good about remembering to wash their hands before meals and after they use the restroom? Do they keep their belongings in decent order? Do they keep track of things well? If you answered yes to these questions, your child is probably ready to transition to wearing contact lenses.

If you have any doubts, you may want to talk to your child about wearing contacts. If they want to switch to contacts, you can assure yourself that they’ll be mature enough to take care of them and keep track of them by setting up a list of chores they must perform adequately, on his own, for a month before you take them to the eye doctor for a contact lens prescription. This will motivate your child to be responsible and mature about getting contacts and taking care of their eyes.

If you think your child is ready for contact lenses, they probably are, but talk to your child’s eye doctor first to get his or her recommendations.

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