I remember when I first started wearing contacts, more than 20 years ago. I was almost 14 years old, nearing the end of my 8th grade year. I didn’t like my glasses at all and had gone through several pairs in the 4 years since I first started wearing them, most of them either broken or lost. I think my mom had finally had it when I broke my last pair of brand-new glasses after just a couple of days. I was on the school bus, waiting to go home, and took them off, setting them down next to me on the seat… and someone sat on them.
Some people might think that I was not responsible enough to start wearing contacts, but it was actually the perfect time. I knew that the consequences of not taking care of my contacts would be going back to glasses, which I did NOT want, so I took meticulous care of those contacts! I followed my optometrist’s instructions strictly, and didn’t wear them for even a minute more than I was supposed to. I can tell you that participating in PE at school was much more enjoyable when I didn’t have to push my glasses up my nose constantly, or stop to wipe the sweat off the lenses. Contacts also gave me that little boost of self-esteem that I needed going into my freshman year of high school!
That said, I don’t think there’s a particular age when kids are ‘ready’ for contacts. There’s so much more to consider because everyone is different. You have to look at your child’s maturity level, how they deal with current responsibilities, whether they’re active in sports, and if they even have any interest in wearing contacts in the first place. Honestly, if both my kids needed corrective lenses at this point, I’d sooner get contacts for my 8-year-old daughter than I would for my 11-year-old!
Maura (8) is great about following instructions, keeps her room tidy, brushes her teeth, and washes her face without me having to remind her. She never leaves home without her sunglasses, because she knows they protect her eyes. Maura also finds it fascinating to watch me put my contacts in my eyes every morning and isn’t put off by it at all.
Maya (11) is the complete opposite! Her room is always a mess and she loses everything. Her personal grooming habits leave much to be desired… she won’t brush her teeth or wash her face without frequent reminders from me. Same goes for doing homework. She also won’t let me touch her face at all, getting squeamish when I put a little dot of acne cream or eye drops in her eyes. Maya is a lot more active than Maura, however, and loves to play sports.
In this case, contact lenses would probably work out well for both of them, since Maura is responsible enough to wear them, and Maya would benefit from wearing them for sports, plus it’s less likely she’d lose contact lenses than glasses. She just might need a little more help from me when it comes to developing healthy contact lens habits. Good thing I have plenty of experience! Here are some tips you can share with your children:
Tips for Safe Contact Lens Use for Kids
- Wear your contact lenses as directed by your eye doctor, no longer than the suggested duration.
- Never sleep with your contact lenses in unless they’re approved for overnight use.
- Wash and dry your hands before handling contact lenses.
- Carefully and regularly use a disinfectant cleaning solution to rub the lenses with your fingers.
- Only use products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses; never use your own saliva, water, or eye drops for this purpose.
- Rinse the lenses thoroughly before soaking them overnight in a sufficient amount of solution, inside an appropriate lens storage case.
- Use fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses – never re-use old solution!
- Clean your case every night – rub it with clean fingers, rinse with solution, and dry it with a clean tissue. Replace the case every three months.
- Apply makeup after inserting your contact lenses.
- Never wear someone else’s contacts, or share yours with others.
- If your eyes are itchy or irritated, remove your contact lenses and tell your parents, or your eye doctor.
- Always have a back-up pair of glasses.
- Have a comprehensive eye exam every year.
Contact lenses are among the safest, most popular forms of vision correction these days, and the great thing about them is that they aren’t permanent. If they don’t work out, your child can simply go back to glasses and wait another year or two before trying them again. Talk about this with your optometrist. He or she will be able to answer all your questions and help you and your child decide if it’s the right time for contacts. Visit the American Optometric Association’s website to learn more about healthy contact lens habits.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.