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March 30, 2017

Contact Lenses for Teens or Tweens Part 1

As an Optometrist, I am often presented with children and/or their parents expressing an interest in contact lenses. Although this may be a terrifying thought at first, I think contact lenses can be a great addition to glasses especially if your tween or teen is active in sports, extracurricular activities or has a higher prescription. In these specific cases, contact lenses are more stable on the eye when moving and provide an unobstructed view and better peripheral vision, allowing your teen or tween to react quicker to both players and objects such as balls. Their vision remains clear regardless of the weather such as rain or snow and reduces the risk of injury as contacts are more compatible with headgear, goggles and other safety equipment worn during the activity. The Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) study showed that contact lenses improved how children felt about their physical appearance, their ability to play sports, and their acceptance among friends.

When is the right time to start wearing contacts?

I often get asked “At what age can my child start to wear contact lenses?” I feel the answer is dependent on several factors: their level of motivation; how well can they handle responsibilities such as house chores and schoolwork; and how they are with their personal hygiene and keeping their room clean are a few of the factors that need to be taken into consideration. Ultimately, the decision is made with everyone involved: our Optometrist, the parents and the child.

What are the best types of contact lenses for teens and tweens?

During your eye examination with your Optometrist, we are able to determine if your teen or tween is a good candidate for contact lenses. We review their vision needs, medical and ocular history, how well they can see and use their eyes together, their prescription for glasses, the health of the eyes, and the curvature of the eyes. If your tween or tween is deemed to be a suitable candidate, we determine what is the best type of contact lens modality for them–a one day, two weeks, or monthly disposable; rigid gas permeable contact lenses (RGP); or other specialty lenses. My personal preference is a daily disposable lens as there is no cleaning involved, less chance of infection, and increased comfort for the wearer. On a cost basis, dailies are more expensive than other modalities, but if worn part-time, it is quite cost effective as no cleaning solution is required and there is peace of mind that your teen or tween is wearing a fresh pair each time, especially with the dry climate in Calgary.

More on contact lenses for teens/tweens on Part 2 of this blog next week

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