Kids and Contact Lenses
In 2010, the American Optometric Association conducted a nationwide survey to determine how optometrists feel about prescribing contact lenses for children and adolescents. If you’re trying to decide whether or not contacts are right for your kids, you may find these statistics interesting. Here are some highlights from the survey.
How old should kids be before they try contacts?
Nearly all optometrists surveyed fit contact lens patients under the age of 18. Children up to the age of 17 account for approximately 41% of the respondents’ total contact lens patient population. Here’s the breakdown:
- Less than 1% are younger than 8
- Less than 2% are 8-9
- 7% are 10-12
- 13% are 13-14
- 19% are 15-17
New, kid-friendly contacts
The survey revealed that doctors are more likely to recommend contacts for kids than they were in the past.
- 30% attribute their change in fitting behavior to daily disposable lenses
- 23% of doctors cite “improved contact lens materials”
- 19% say they are more likely to fit children with contact lenses because of requests from the child and/or parent
Are contacts better for boys or girls?
Three-quarters of optometrists surveyed say that gender does not influence their decision to fit a child in contact lenses. One in four, though, say they are more likely to fit younger children when they are girls.
Contacts vs. glasses?
Two out of three (67%) doctors surveyed fit children under the age of 8 in glasses only. At ages 8–9 (51%) and 10–12 (71%), optometrists fit children in glasses as the primary method of vision correction and prescribe contact lenses as a secondary correction. As children get older, optometrists begin to change their approach to vision correction:
- 20% prescribe contact lenses as the principal form of vision correction for ages 10–12
- 49% prescribe contact lenses first for ages 13–14
- 66% recommend contact lenses as the main form of vision correction for ages 15–17
Who is a good candidate?
Nearly all doctors point out that a child’s interest and motivation in wearing contact lenses is the most important factor to consider in fitting a child with contacts. Also very important to doctors is the child’s maturity level, the child’s ability to take care of contact lenses by him/herself, and the child’s personal hygiene habits. Participation in sports, the child’s prescription requirements, and the impact of contact lens wear on a child’s self-esteem round out the top seven factors seen as most important to optometrists.
What kind of contacts?
Daily disposable contact lenses are the most frequently prescribed lenses for children 12 years old and under. For children ages 13–17, doctors tend to prescribe reusable contact lenses (i.e., two-week and monthly replacement) more often than daily disposables.
Why do parents ask for contacts for their kids?
Two out of five optometrists say parents request that their child be fit in contact lenses because the child refuses to wear his or her glasses; 36% say parents note that the child’s current vision correction interferes with sports; and 16% say parents want their child in contact lenses because the current form of vision correction interferes with daily activities.
Source: American Optometric Association. To see the complete survey results, visit aoa.org/childrenandcontactlenses.