When it comes to deciding what age is right for kids to start wearing contact lenses, there is no one right answer. If you ask the kids, they’ll say they are old enough now, no matter how old they are. And depending on the maturity level of the child, many eye doctors may be inclined to agree that children as young as 8 years old may be ready for the responsibility of wearing contact lenses.
Typically, nearsightedness (able to see near objects, but not those farther away) begins to show up between the ages of 8 and 16. Many parents who experienced nearsightedness will remember that getting contacts at such an early age was not an option. Contacts were not considered healthy or appropriate for children before their teens, and for many, contacts were a rite of passage at or near the end of high school.
But advances in contact lens design combined with research involving children as young as 8 years old is now leading many eye care professionals to prescribe contact lenses for younger patients.
Is Your Child Ready for Contact Lenses?
There are several things to consider when deciding whether your child is ready for contact lenses:
• Maturity – only the parents can truly assess the maturity level of their own children. Some 10 year olds are more mature than some 15 year olds. Ask yourself whether your child is willing to take responsibility for cleaning and handling contact lenses, based on how responsible he or she is in other areas.
• Motivation –for children and teens, fitting in with peers is a key motivating factor. Studies show that children’s perceptions of themselves, including appearance and how well they fit with their peers, was higher wearing contact lenses than it was wearing glasses. This is true even for children who initially stated they didn’t mind wearing their glasses.
• Abilities – consider where your child’s talents lie and what activities he or she enjoys doing.