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Mom, am I old enough to get contacts?

Has your son or daughter recently asked about contact lens?  Have your children complained that it’s difficult to wear their glasses while playing sports? Or has your child become more self aware and now desires to get away from glasses full time?  If you have experienced any of these circumstances it might be time to ask your eye doctor if your child is old enough for contact lenses.  Research in children’s vision correction continues to demonstrate that contact lenses provide significant benefits to children beyond simply correcting their vision. The Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment, referred to as the ACHIEVE Study, showed considerable lifestyle improvement for contact lens wearing children.  The areas of improvement were in appearance, participation in activities, and satisfaction with vision correction.  Satisfaction was monitored and remained constant or improved over three years.  The study, conducted at Ohio State University College of Optometry, is the largest randomized trial of its kind.

Researchers noted that the most surprising finding in these 10 year olds were reports of improved quality of life with regard to handling contact lenses compared with glasses, as it is often assumed that glasses are much easier to manage than contact lenses.  The study showed that although contact lenses may require more adept handling, daily disposable contact lenses decreased this burden.  In fact, children in the study who wore contact lenses chose daily disposables 93 percent of the time, over two-week or monthly disposables.  In addition, the fact that contact lenses may be lost or broken less often than glasses outweighed the slight increase in time spent inserting and removing contact lenses.

In a recent American Optometric Association (AOA) study, more than half of the 576 optometrists surveyed said it was appropriate to introduce a child to soft contact lenses between ages of 10 and 12.  The type of lens they prescribed most frequently for this age group was daily disposable contacts.

Doctors typically evaluate a child’s maturity and level of parental support in deciding whether a child is ready for contact lenses.  For the optometrists in this study, the most important factors in deciding to prescribe contact lenses were the child’s interest/motivation, maturity level, ability to take care of the lenses and personal hygiene habits.

In the same AOA study optometrists said gender did not play a role in contact lens prescribing, but 26 percent said that among younger children they were more likely to fit girls than boys. They tended to prescribe daily disposable contacts for kids 12 and under, but monthly or two week disposables for older kids.

The top reasons parents gave the surveyed optometrists for requesting contacts for their children included:

  • The child refuses to wear his glasses (39 percent).
  • The child’s current vision correction interferes with sports (36 percent).
  • The current vision correction interferes with daily activities (16 percent).

At Cockrell Eyecare Center we utilized the most technologically advanced contact lens materials and designs. We routinely fit children in contacts and look forward to discussing the possibility with parents.  We fit daily, two week and monthly disposables of all brands including colored contacts and bifocal or multifocal designs for individuals over forty years.  If you have questions about your child and contact lenses, please contact our offices in Stillwater at 405-372-1715. We also invite you to visit our website at and like us on Facebook at Cockrell Eye Care Center!