Children may benefit from corrective lens wear for various reasons, ranging from refractive error correction to vision therapy. The most common is a high refractive error—however, glasses worn to correct this can magnify or minimize images, cause peripheral distortion, and reduce one’s field of view. Glasses may also be uncomfortable and unappealing to a young person, so they may prefer to wear contact lenses when possible.

However, not every parent knows when their children should start wearing contacts. While the FDA approves contacts for children, they also recommend a specific age for children to start wearing their lenses.

In this guide, we’ll share the answer to “How old do you have to be to wear contacts?” We’ll also share some tips on the pros and cons of lenses for children as well as beginner’s tips for when they receive their first pair.

Recommended Age for Contacts

How old do you have to be to wear contacts? Physically, your child’s eyes can tolerate soft lenses at a very young age. Babies can even safely wear contact lenses due to conditions present at birth.

There is no definite answer to this question, and it will depend on the child’s level of maturity. In recent studies fitting nearsighted children between the ages of 8 and 11 with one-day disposable lenses, 90% of them were able to put their contacts in and take them out without any difficulty. The FDA also agrees that the minimum age for how old you have to be to wear contacts is 8.

Whether the child is mature enough to be fitted is best left between the parent, child, and the eyecare professional. There is no difference in providing a child compared to an adult with contacts. The process of fitting an adult compared to a child is similar.

The challenge in fitting a child has nothing to do with physical differences but overcoming the child’s stress and accommodating the rapid development of the young person’s eyes.

Pros and Cons for Using Lenses with Children

Pros

Contact lenses are appropriate for children because of medical necessity and can boost self-esteem, but other benefits include:

  • Better peripheral vision: without having to deal with bulky frames blocking their peripheral vision, a child wearing contacts can enjoy a more natural range of sight.
  • Convenience: young children can play, use headphones, and participate in school sports without having to worry about breaking or losing their glasses.
    Appearance: self-esteem is a big part of growing up. If your child is embarrassed by the idea of being bespectacled or doesn’t like the frames available to them, corrective contact lenses can be an option.
  • Myopia management and control: MiSight 1 day disposable soft lenses have been FDA approved for children ages 8 to 12 for nearsightedness.

The psychological benefits are just as crucial as correcting the eyes of tweens and teens. Children often bully other children for wearing glasses, and corrective lenses give kids confidence and self-acceptance.

Cons

While they offer many pros, trusting a young child with the care and wearing of contact lenses can also come with some drawbacks.

  • Sanitation: children must not play with their contacts or attempt to take them in and out several times during the day. This runs the risk of infection or damage to their eyes or lenses.
  • Lens care: if multi-use contacts are being used, it’s important they are cared for and stored properly. If this becomes difficult to mitigate, single-use disposable contacts may be your best option.
  • Dry eye: as with all contact lenses, ones that are ill-fitting, improperly stored, or in need of replacement can cause a child discomfort or dry eyes.

Strategies to Help Improve Cooperation in Children

Responsibility plays an important role in deciding whether your child is ready for corrective lenses. Suppose they take the initiative in other areas of their lives with their homework, keeping up with their belongings, or doing their chores without being told. In that case, chances are they are ready and will be proactive with the care of their lenses.

However, children will also need to be educated on the dangers of playing with contacts to avoid any medical concerns.

To teach kids the importance of contact lens safety:

  • Describe the positive outcomes from good compliance and use positive reinforcements.
  • Repeat key points to enhance memory.
  • Demonstrate cleaning routine and case care.
  • Explain and reinforce the importance of proper handwashing.

Contact Lens Safety Tips

In addition, parents can teach their children the following key safety tips for applying and wearing contact lenses:

  • Always wash hands before touching lenses.
    – Clean and rinse contact lenses as directed. Only use products recommended by the eye care provider.
    – Never place lenses in water or saliva.
  • Don’t wear lenses for longer than required.
    – Don’t sleep with contact lenses unless they are specifically for overnight use.
    – Remove contact lenses if the eyes are itching, burning, red, or inflamed.
  • Never wear someone else’s lenses.
  • Wear safety goggles over lenses during sports..
  • Apply makeup after putting lenses in.

Other Factors to Consider

Wearing contacts involves putting them in every day and removing them at night. Leaving them in could cause damage to the eyes.

To simplify the process as they become familiar with wearing contacts, the best choice for kids are daily disposable lenses. There is no cleaning involved. They simply take them out, throw them away, and wash their hands before putting on a fresh pair the following day.

Financial Needs

Be sure to check with your health insurance to see if your benefits cover eye exam costs for your child.
Vision insurance usually entitles you to:

  • Free eye exam
  • Credit for a pair of glasses
  • Partial contact lenses

You can also use a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA). You may even be able to cover the full yearly cost depending on how much your employer offers for your HSA and/or FSA.

What if you do not have insurance? How much do contact lenses cost?

Daily disposables typically cost between $35 to $70 per box of 90. Your best bet is to purchase half a year’s supply, which would be four boxes. Take advantage of the bulk supply cost.

Contact Us

Wearing contact lenses improves a child’s vision without the inconvenience of glasses.
If you are interested in beginning use of corrective contact lenses for your 8-12-year-old child, let our qualified team help you and your child determine if they are ready. Schedule your appointment today.