Research undertaken by the Indiana University School of Ophthalmology says that most children have physically matured enough to wear contact lenses by the age of 11-13. Many eye care and medical professionals say that in most cases, children as young as eight are capable of wearing lenses correctly and comfortably. Eight years of age does sound very young to be wearing contact lenses, but research has shown that children are actually better at looking after lenses, as well as fitting them, than adults. This is because children are less likely to become complacent with their lens cleaning regimes and a child is more likely to follow the advice of a medical professional than their parents.
Most optometrists prescribe daily, soft contact lenses to children as it eliminates the need to go through a daily cleaning routine, and soft lenses have been shown to mould to the eye better, increasing comfort and improving fit.
There are many reasons to let your child wear lenses, apart from the obvious cosmetic reasons. Children who are happier with their appearances have greater self-esteem, which may help them become more confident in the classroom. This may see improvements in school grades and making new friends. Contacts are also a safer option for active children as the danger of eyeglasses breaking and causing injury has been eliminated. The only sport where the use of contact lenses is not recommended is water sports (such as water polo), but prescription goggles are available.
The big question is, is your child ready for contact lenses? Even with the daily contact lenses a certain degree of responsibility is required. If you aren’t sure if your child is ready for contact lenses, think about how well your child remembers to carry out any chores or tasks you set them (e.g. feeding pets, taking out the rubbish). If you don’t feel your child is ready for them yet explain to them that you don’t feel they are responsible enough yet, tell them how to show you they are responsible, and take them to see the latest Harry Potter film, which professionals say has helped increase the popularity and “cool” image of eyeglasses.