At what age can contact lenses be worn?

Although spectacles have become an increasingly sought after fashion accessory these days, many children would prefer to wear contacts. In some cases, the shift from glasses can improve self-image which can be a major motivator for many young people.

Sometimes, it’s not appearance that drives the desire to switch, but sports performance. Although quite safe to wear for the majority of sports, glasses can occasionally be distracting and many children would prefer to have contact lenses that they can just forget about.

Understandably, parents are often concerned about whether these are suitable for youngsters. There is no hard and fast rule about at what age it is possible to begin wearing lenses. It depends very much on the child in question. For example, a child as young as seven or eight might be deemed quite capable of using lenses, whereas a teenager might not.

In most cases, the best course is to speak to your optician with your child present. They will be able to judge how responsible and motivated your son or daughter is. Your child will need to be able to insert and remove their own lenses and take responsibility for the accompanying hygiene programme. This means that they must be willing and able to clean their lenses without adult assistance.

The optician will monitor your child’s progress and eye health and if they feel that they are not managing in a hygienic and responsible manner, most will not hesitate to withdraw the prescription. Quite often, the knowledge that they will have to return to wearing spectacles can be enough to ensure that children and adolescents take adequate care of their lenses.

There is a wide variety of contact lenses available and the optician will provide the necessary advice and guidance. For instance, they will recommend whether hard or soft lenses are most appropriate and whether or not disposables are a good option for your son or daughter. In some cases, such as astigmatism, it may be possible to use corrective contacts to improve the condition.

Before visiting the optician, it is best to talk to your son or daughter about their expectations and to discuss the level of responsibility that will be expected from them. If you don’t wear lenses yourself, it might be a good idea to ask a friend or relative if they would be willing to demonstrate the procedure to your child.