Lenses or contact lenses are a type of small, curved, transparent and very thin lens that is placed on the tear film covering the entire surface of the eye. They are used in combination with glasses to correct certain visual problems.

Although we tend to associate their use with the adult or adolescent stage, the truth is that it is also possible to use them in children. But, in what cases are they indicated? From what age can children wear contact lenses? What care and precautions must be taken?

To clarify all doubts about the use of contact lenses in children, we have spoken with Marina Martín Pérez , Optometrist Technical Director of Óptica Bajo Aragón and member of the expert committee of Cecop Spain .

From what age can a child wear contact lenses?

One of the most frequent doubts among parents of children with glasses is at what age they can start using contact lenses .

Although Marina Martín insists that there is no specific age -because everything will depend on the characteristics of the eye and the prescription-, specialists indicate four years as the minimum age to start wearing contact lenses , provided that the child and Parents are fully involved in the process.

However, the expert explains that there may be cases in which the use of contact lenses is recommended even in babies , especially in the treatment of certain visual dysfunctions such as aphakic patients, with astigmatism , strabismus , high hyperopia, myopia and amblyopia (lazy eye).

“In these cases, the idea is that the baby has the most optimal vision possible so that the development of his visual system during the early years is normalized.”

“But it is important to find an optometrist specialized in babies. To do this, I recommend consulting the website of the National College of Opticians Optometrists and searching the professional listings in your area.”

What type of contact lenses are the most recommended for children?

As for what type of contact lenses to use, Marina recommends preferably opting for daily disposable contact lenses , which will allow the child to forget about cleaning liquids and wear new lenses every day.

This type of lens is perfect for young children or children who are starting to wear contact lenses for the first time. Its comfortable use stands out , since they are put on in the morning and removed and discarded at the end of the day.

But when it is not possible to use this type of contact lens, you can resort to continuous use contact lenses . These lenses do not have to be removed every day, but are adapted to be used for a week, a month or even more, although it is necessary to maintain continuous control with the optometrist.

How do I know if my child is ready to wear contact lenses?

To find out if the child is ready to start wearing contact lenses, the optometrist recommends that parents look at the child’s level of autonomy and responsibility for their own personal hygiene , as this aspect will be key to avoiding eye infections.

What care should follow the child who wears contact lenses?

If your child is going to start wearing contact lenses, the expert offers the following recommendations for safe use :

  • At first it will be the parents who handle the child’s contact lenses , teaching them how to put them on, how to store them correctly and how to care for them (if they are not disposable lenses).

It is very important to take care of the hygiene of the contact lenses, as well as of the hands before putting them on, as this will help prevent visual problems.

  • Before handling contact lenses, both parents and children should wash their hands properly with soap and water . The nails must also be perfectly trimmed and clean.
  • We will not put contact lenses if we see that the eye has rheum, redness or irritation. In these cases it is necessary to consult a specialist in case there is a conjunctivitis problem .
  • Do not exceed the number of hours recommended by the specialist in the use of contact lenses. In this sense, the optometrist reminds that contact lenses will never replace the use of glasses, which should continue to be used to rest the eyes. 
  • Finally, Marina Martín advises parents to follow the specialist’s instructions at all times and to consult any doubt or problem that may arise, as well as to attend regular check-ups with the optometrist and ophthalmologist .

Risk situations to avoid with the use of contact lenses

In addition to the lack of hygiene in the handling of contact lenses, there are three risk situations that could lead to significant problems in the child’s eye health:

  • Wear contact lenses for more hours than recommended by the specialist.
  • Go to sleep with your contact lenses on, unless otherwise indicated. 
  • Misusing cleaning fluids.

“These practices can cause dry eyes, conjunctivitis or even an ulcer. If any of these problems appear, the use of contact lenses will be contraindicated for a time or even permanently” – warns the expert.

There is no doubt that contact lenses are an excellent option also in the case of children (and even babies), as they are comfortable, allow greater freedom of movement and the possibility of playing sports, playing or jumping without the limitation of glasses.

But for its use to be safe, it must be recommended and controlled by the specialist , and be very strict in hygiene and care when handling and maintaining them.

Photos | Cover(DepositPhotos); Photo 1 (Pixabay); Photo 2 and 4 (Pexels – Nataliya Vaitkevich); Photo 3 (Pexels)