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Teenagers & Contact Lenses

A recent study showed that children as young as 11 years of age are mature enough to handle contact lens regimens. With the increasing popularity of contact lenses as an option for vision correction teenagers are often eager to experience the benefits of contact lens wear. Many parents question the safety of wearing contact lenses at a young age and wonder if their teenager is ready to wear them. In fact there has never been a better time to be a young contact lens wearer. Now with lens care easier and more convenient than ever before contact lens wear has become more of a possibility for teens pre-teens and sometimes even children.

Is my teen mature enough to wear contact lenses?

A recent study performed at the University of Indiana’s School of Optometry showed that children as young as 11 years of age are mature enough to handle contact lens regimens. Other reports have shown 9-year-olds to be fully capable. After six months of wearing cleaning and storing contact lenses – on average – the teenagers in the study successfully learned how to take proper care of them. As with any other life change it takes time to settle in to a new schedule or routine. What is helpful is that certain disinfecting methods are now reduced to less than five minutes. In a surprise twist the teenagers in the study ended up having more expertise and familiarity about the products than most adults. Any individual including teenagers interested in contact lenses must have a solid understanding about how to wear contacts safely and how to care for contact lenses.

In terms of anatomy most optometrists believe that around the age of 11-13 an individual’s eye is developed enough to wear contact lenses (in fact some babies even wear contact lenses). In order to determine if your teenager’s eyes are physically ready for contact lenses it is best to book an eye examination with your eye care practitioner.

What kind of contact lenses are the best for teens?

Advances in technology make contact lenses convenient and easy to use so caring for them is easier than ever. While you must care for them every day there are multipurpose solutions that make cleaning disinfecting and storing your lenses easy. For an even more comfortable and convenient option daily disposables can be worn for one day and then thrown away so there’s no lens care or solutions. Daily disposable contact lenses offer one of the best choices for teenagers. This is just one option though – there are many types of contact lenses out there.

How much are the lenses going to cost?

Of course cost varies depending on the prescription frequency of wear and the type of contact lenses you choose. The cost of contacts is comparable to the price of an average pair of eyeglasses but again it depends on the above factors. As an example daily disposables usually cost about $1 per day and are a little more expensive than other lenses but are worth it in terms of cleaning simplicity and eye health. Lenses changed monthly are less than that but involve a more time-consuming cleaning regimen. Rigid gas permeable lenses last longer than soft lenses and are routinely worn between 1 – 2 years before they have to be replaced. Discuss these options with your eye care practitioner in order to find the right kind for you.

Contact lenses vs. glasses

Contact lenses provide:

  • increased self-esteem
  • improved peripheral vision and less distortion
  • greater comfort and convenience for sports and social occasions
  • when you’re active contact lens don’t fog up or slide down your nose

Eyeglasses provide:

  • a much less intensive cleaning procedure
  • simplicity
  • less risk of infection; greater oxygen to the eye

Both contact lenses and eyeglasses are beneficial in different ways. Contacts provide an alternative to glasses since most teens might balk at the idea of wearing glasses at a time of social awkwardness; in this case at least your teen will wear some sort of corrective eyewear. Without any corrective eyewear performance at school may suffer. A variety of problems may also occur including headaches and eyestrain.

Contact lenses do not replace the need for spectacles and it is generally recommended that eyeglasses be worn at least some of the time to give the eyes some time to “breathe”. For teens who do not wear corrective lenses but especially for those who do follow-up eye examinations with your eye care practitioner are absolutely necessary. Teenagers’ eyes are prone to change both in terms of size and changing prescription so a pair of contact lenses that fit in the past may not fit now. Contact lenses are medical devices and should be used with responsibility and common sense.

If your teen has expressed interest in contact lenses visit your eye care practitioner to see if they are appropriate for him/her and if so which kind is optimal.