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A parent's guide to children and contact lenses

More than 3.7m people in the UK enjoy the benefits of contact lenses, but only a very small proportion of them are children. However, many children could benefit from wearing contact lenses under the supervision of an optician. As your child enters his/her teens and gets glasses, there's a common question you’re likely to get asked – “can I wear contact lenses?”

Based on the most commonly asked questions around children wearing contacts, we’ve put together a handy guide for you.

Should you let your child wear contact lenses?

Parent and child on the beach

Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash

It’s totally understandable that you might have concerns about your child wearing contact lenses. Perhaps the biggest concern is that they may not care for them properly, leading to discomfort or an eye infection. Your child’s ability to take care of the lenses is the most important thing you should consider.

There are lots of good reasons why you should consider letting your child wear contacts:

  • Some children feel self-conscious wearing glasses; contact lenses can help to improve self-confidence and self-esteem, especially those with a strong prescription.
  • Contact lenses are more suitable for some contact sports where glasses are likely to get damaged or fall off, such as football or rugby.
  • Contacts can provide children with poor vision in one eye or a squint, with full time vision correction. Glasses can be easily removed and put to one side, while contact lenses are less likely to be removed. This can help reduce the risk of a lazy eye, but you’ll need to consult an optician first.

Getting your child started with contact lenses

A common question parents have is whether their child needs to be a certain age before they can wear contact lenses. It all depends on how mature your child is, and whether they can look after their contact lenses.

There is no specific age limit, but if your child is under 16 then you'll need to provide consent for them to wear contacts. Your optician can also provide advice on whether they think your child is suited to contact lenses.

Which lenses are best?

Child's eyes

Photo by Gabby Orcutt on Unsplash

Daily disposables are the most popular, no-fuss option. Without the need to be cleaned and stored after every wear, daily disposables tend to be more hygienic and convenient. Monthly, two-weekly and toric lenses are also options, but the choice of lens will depend on your child’s prescription and suitability.

If wearing two-weekly or monthly lenses, your child should learn how to clean and store their lenses properly. Most children wearing contacts will typically be asked to visit the optician once every 6 months or less to make sure they are comfortable and happy with their lenses.

Taking care of contact lenses

If your child wears contacts, make sure that they understand the importance of lens hygiene. Here are some pointers that must be followed:

  • Don’t swap contact lenses with anyone else or between your eyes
  • Do not use saliva or water to add moisture or clean your contact lenses
  • Never wear your contact lenses for longer than recommended
  • Always use the solution your optician recommends
  • Do not wear contact lenses while swimming
  • Always wash and dry your hands before and after putting in or taking out your contact lenses.