Glasses or contacts – what’s best for your child?

hand holding eye contact lens UofL Health

The majority of parents, when asked, will say their child isn’t ready or is not responsible enough to wear contact lenses.

Yet, many pediatric patients would love to wear them. Not only does contact lens wear improve self-esteem in kids, but it compels them to become more dependable and mature. If the main concerns for you as a parent are hygiene, compliance, ease of care/convenience, etc.,  could be eliminated, would that change your opinion on contacts for your child?

By choosing daily disposable contact lenses you can impact the child’s life.

Eye care professionals, like myself, who fit contact lenses have heard the facts about daily disposables before. They are more convenient for patients. Patients will be more compliant with daily disposables. The risk of contact lens related ocular infections decreases. So why not encourage new contact lens wearers, especially teens and preteens to start their glasses free life with daily disposal lens?

Some parents (and doctors) feel that it is important for a child who wears contact lenses to show responsibility in their care before they are “given the chance” to wear daily disposables. They need to demonstrate that they can clean and disinfect their lenses properly, and adhere to a schedule with biweekly or monthly disposable lenses first. There is some truth to that thought, but in reality most kids (and parents) would rather not have to deal with solutions, dirty cases, and calendars when it comes to contact lenses. In fact, a previous contact lens study performed on pediatric patients showed that responsibility improved with a daily modality because children were forced to learn to insert and remove their lenses every day.

Children, as well as some adults, who have those extra steps of getting out their lens case, adding solution and maintaining a clean contact lens environment, are more likely to sleep in their lenses and over wear them. This also applies to patients who know that their contact lenses will last them a few weeks. Contact lens over wear increases and compliance decreases.

According to a study by CIBA Vision, 82 percent of biweekly replacement wearers and 53 percent of monthly replacement wearers wore their lenses longer than recommended by the manufacturer. Unfortunately, this practice tends to open the door to bad lens habits, causes lens dryness and irritation, increases the risk of ocular infections, and ultimately leads to possible contact lens drop out.

If you and your child’s doctor can encourage a daily schedule in the beginning of contact lens wear, patients are likely to continue with daily disposables.

Parents like the idea of their child wearing a fresh contact lens every day and not having to stress about their child’s compliance or hygiene issues. Daily disposables are also great options for patients who suffer from seasonal allergies and have discomfort due to prolonged wear.

However, one topic always comes up regarding these lenses – cost. There is no denying that exchanging contact lenses so often gets expensive, and let’s be honest, not having to buy contact lens solutions and cases doesn’t quite make up the cost difference.

Nonetheless, studies have shown that many parents are willing to spend a little more money for the added convenience and less stress that a daily disposable lens provides. Surprisingly, many parents don’t even realize this is an option until it’s presented to them. That’s why it is important for pediatric patients and their parents to be aware of all of the contact lens alternatives. Talk to your child’s doctor about the benefits of daily disposable contact lenses. This will help you make the informed choice that is best for your child.

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Lindsey Keown, O.D.

Dr. Lindsey Keown is a pediatric optometrist at the Kentucky Lions Eye Center and UofL Physicians – Pediatric Specialists at Old Brownsboro Crossing. She received her doctor of optometry degree from Indiana University School of Optometry. She is a member of the American Optometric Association, Kentucky Optometric Association and the Greater Louisville Optometric Society. As a pediatric optometrist, Dr. Keown believes in helping children have the best vision possible, so they can thrive in school, physical activities and social situations.

All posts by Lindsey Keown, O.D.
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