Let's face it: Contact lenses are a big responsibility for adults, let alone for children.
Let's face it: Contact lenses are a big responsibility for adults, let alone for children. The lenses require constant care, cleaning and upkeep. Even so, many children have been sporting the lenses in lieu of glasses. How do you know if your kids are old enough to wear contact lenses? Dublin optometrist Dr. Kenneth Boltz recommends making a three-way decision. The child, the parent and the optometrist all need to be in agreement when it comes to contacts, he said. "If parents and children are interested, age is less important than motivation," said Boltz. Although the typical age tends to be late elementary or middle school, Boltz said he has seen children as young as 5 or 6 ditching their frames. A typically unknown benefit does come from making the switch early. Normally, eyesight worsens as a person gets older. Wearing contacts slows this process down, and eyes don't change as drastically. Another bonus is self-confidence. Boltz explained that studies have been conducted and results have shown that kids who wear glasses may be a bit more shy and reserved in social settings. Sports are another reason why kids want contact lenses. Kristi Simone, a Dublin mother of four, cited this as a reason why her children were eager for lenses. Her three oldest children - Mia, 14, Maggie, 11, and Ian, 9 - all previously donned glasses before getting contacts. "All of my kids swim," said Simone, "so they wanted to start wearing contacts to see better in the water." Whether they're wearing contacts for sports or normal everyday activities, Boltz stressed the importance of keeping lenses in good shape. Touching contacts with dirty hands or falling asleep while wearing contacts are factors that can lead to problems. "The risk of complications is real," said Boltz. "Contacts are a medical device. First I ask the parents if their kids are responsible." If your child is interested in switching to lenses, it is important to talk to them about the rules that must be followed. Using common sense and caution is imperative. Fortunately, there are multiple options to choose from that make the contact experience a smooth one, like daily disposable lenses. They can be thrown away after one wear, bringing less stress to the care routine. Crediting her children as being responsible, Simone says they had a fairly easy transition to contacts, which allows them more freedom. "I have to remind Maggie every night to take her contacts out," said Simone. "She would much rather prefer to wear her contacts because it's so much easier." And even though he doesn't need glasses yet, her youngest son is eager to follow in the footsteps of his siblings. "Luke is 7 and dying to have glasses so he can wear contacts," said Simone.