With back-to-school next month, many parents are scheduling eye exams for their children now to beat the rush. If your child has been asking about contact lenses, you may be wondering: Are they ready? (Ultimately your child’s eye doctor and their team will be able to determine if your child “qualifies” for contact lens wear.)
As a Nationally Certified Contact Lens Technician, I have been asked this question plenty of times over the years. The answer really depends on your resources and your child’s maturity.
Do you have the time and budget for getting your child set up with contact lenses?
Contact lens fittings are a separate part of an eye exam. Most eye care providers need to know if you are considering contact lenses at the time you schedule the appointment to ensure enough time for the fitting process. If it’s your child’s first time, expect to possibly be there for a couple of extra hours. In some instances, a follow-up appointment will need to be scheduled one to two weeks afterward.
Pro Tip: By clearing your schedule the day of the appointment and getting fit with contacts before school starts, you take away the added pressure of a time crunch as they begin practicing insertion and removal.
The contact lens exam after the regular exam usually comes with an additional fee that’s not completely covered by vision insurance. Talk to your eye care provider about your contact lens budget because the contact lens prescription will also include the brand name of the contact lenses prescribed.
One of the easiest lenses for children to keep up with are dailies. These types of lenses are worn for one day and then thrown away. There can be a cost difference between dailies and other lens types. However, they are the most sanitary option.
Pro Tip: Ask your eye care professional about any available manufacture rebates.
Does your child have what it takes to be a contact lens wearer?
It takes a certain amount of perseverance to learn to put a thin piece of plastic onto your eyeball, and even more practice for some to remove a contact lens from their eye. I mention this because your child really needs to be motivated to learn contact lens insertion and removal.
When a patient would be struggling during a practice session, I’d remind the new contact lens wearers of their “why.” It ranged from being able to participate in dance class to “I hate wearing my glasses.” Nonetheless, in my experience, the children that better adapted to their contact lens were the ones who had a reason to keep them going.
In order to be a successful contact lens wearer, good hygiene is a must. Eye infections are annoying at the very least and can cause major medical emergencies at the worst. If you have to continually remind your child about their hygienic needs, it might be best to put off contact lenses for a year or so.
Pro Tip: The following are some key ways to cut down on contact lens-related eye infections:
- Wash hands before and after insertion and removal
- Do not sleep or swim in contact lenses
- Only use contact lens solution to clean contact lenses
- Do not attempt to insert a torn contact lens
- Do not over-wear your contact lenses (for example if it is a monthly lens, throw it away after 30 days)
- Always carry a backup pair of prescription glasses and contact lens case with solution, just in case
So if you feel that you and your child may be ready for them to try contact lenses, maybe it is time to schedule an appointment for a contact lens fitting with their eye doctor.