Contact Lenses & Children

Contacts for Children

Starting to wear contact lenses is an important decision, and the child, parents, and doctor should all agree that the benefits outweigh the risks. 

When can my child start wearing contacts?

There is no minimum age at which children need to wear contact lenses. Some infants may even be required to wear contact lenses after having cataract surgery, and they tolerate them very well. On the flip side, some teenagers are not responsible enough to wear lenses. The child needs to have good hygiene and be willing to follow instructions to preserve their ocular health.

What are the benefits of contacts for children?

  • Contact lenses provide better peripheral vision than glasses because vision is not limited by the frame. This helps with sports performance and awareness.
  • High prescriptions or extremely different prescriptions (anisometropia) are better corrected in contacts than glasses. With highly nearsighted prescriptions, the image sizes are minified (made smaller), and with highly farsighted prescriptions, the images are magnified.
  • Contact lenses do not induce the same image size differences, which may improve coordination.
  • Some children absolutely refuse to wear glasses because they are teased. If this is the case, it is much better for them to be corrected with contact lenses so that they can see and learn in school.

What types of contact lens options are available?

  • Gas permeable lenses are a healthy option for children although it typically takes a bit longer to get used to the comfort. Gas permeable lenses have also been used to help control nearsighted prescriptions (orthokeratology). With the advent of corneal sclera lenses (large diameter gas permeable lenses), comfort has improved greatly.
  • Conventional lenses (each lens is used for a year) are rarely used in children as the likelihood that they will become allergic to them is high.
  • Disposable hema-based lenses were popular until the late 1990s, but they do not breathe as well as the newer contact lens material options.
  • Dailies (single-use lenses) are the best option for children who only wear lenses part-time. It is the healthiest option as the lens is worn only once, so the risk of infection is greatly reduced.
  • Silicone hydrogel lenses have been available since the late 1990s, and they allow 4 to 5 times more oxygen transmission, which is good for corneal health.
  • Silicone hydrogel dailies are the ultimate lens available. These are single-use lenses with high oxygen transmission. We are all looking forward to having more correction options in this type of lens.

Contact lenses can be a positive, confidence-building experience when your child is ready. As parents, the best thing we can do is model great contact lens practices.

Information was written by Dr. Jennifer Kerns, one of our wonderful optometrists and co-director of our contacts department here at Spokane Eye Clinic. Stop by our optical department located at all three locations for any questions you have regarding your contact prescription.

To schedule an appointment, call (509) 456-0107