Are Contact Lenses Okay for Young Children?
Dear America’s Best,
My six-year-old daughter has been wearing glasses since her fourth birthday. Recently, she has expressed frustration with trying to keep them on during gym class and keeping them clean. She asked if she could try contact lenses, but I immediately told her she was too young for them. Am I right? Is a six-year-old too young for contact lenses? Can a child this young even wear contact lenses safely?
Heidi in Georgia
I can certainly understand your concern over your daughter wearing contact lenses. Six does seem very young for a medical device like contacts. The truth is that there is no age that is actually “too young” for contact lenses. The human eye can handle them from an early age. In fact, some infants are fitted for contact lenses to help correct certain eye conditions. It’s typical that optometrists won’t prescribe contacts to children under the age of 7, unless it’s for one of these serious eye conditions.
The better question is, “Is my daughter responsible enough to wear contact lenses?” If your daughter is mature and self-motivated, then she may be ready for contacts. The question of responsibility is important because the biggest challenge for young contact lens wearers is proper hygiene. Children must be able to remember to wash their hands often, properly insert and remove lenses without help, and store and clean them. She’ll need to be able to do this on her own in case she loses a lens at school or somewhere where you aren’t there to help. Have your daughter watch this video to see all the responsibilities of contact lens wear explained in a simple way.
For these reasons, many optometrists are hesitant to fit school-aged children with contact lenses until they are closer to eight or nine, but your daughter may be ready earlier than that. All children are different and mature at different rates. If she’s determined to get out of glasses, she may be inspired to prove that she can take care of contact lenses.
I suggest you take your daughter to your closest America’s Best retailer and talk to your optometrist. Have the eye doctor ask her questions and be prepared to answer questions about whether you think she’s prepared for the responsibility of contact lenses. This will be the best way to know for sure that she’s ready.