It is important to protect one's vision, especially when it is still under development. However, a recent study by Ohio University showed that children are reluctant to wear glasses, as they are considered an inconvenience on the playground and associated with lower social acceptance among peers. The same study shows an overwhelming wish among children with myopia (nearsightedness) to wear contact lenses, as it has a positive effect on self-esteem.
Contrary to popular belief, children can safely use contact lenses from 8 years old. Market-leading contact lenses today are much softer and easier on the eye than prior lenses, thus allowing younger eyes to wear them. The first contact lenses were very small, stiff, and required a long period of adjustment. But now the soft lenses and the development of new geometries and materials have allowed secure usage among children with vision impairments.
You local eye doctor may advice you as a parent to wait until you child is a bit older and more mature to wear contact lenses. But if you are confident that your child is ready to use contacts, here are some tips that can help ease the process of adjustment.
One good idea is to start with daily disposable lenses as they do not require much care: insertion in the morning and removal/disposal before bedtime. Daily disposables have proven to lower the risk of eye infection. By starting with the daily disposable lens you are also given a test period for the child to determine if he or she likes and feels comfortable wearing the lens. If the results are positive, you can switch to conventional soft lenses, which can be a bit cheaper.
Contact lenses are as effective as regular glasses and are manageable from a relatively young age. As it has proven to be the preferred eyewear by most children, allowing your child to wear contacts as early as possible may do much more than simply improve vision acuity.
However, your child must learn to care and use the contact lenses in a proper and risk free manner, to avoid infection or other eye care issues.
It is also important that your child is regularly checked by an eye care professional to measure and evaluate the parameters of the cornea to ensure that the geometric curvature of current contact lenses are correct.
Even Orthokeratology lenses (worn at night to change the shape of the eyes for corrected vision during the day) can be used by children, provided, of course, that no eye-related problems arise.