If you assume that your child is too young, unmotivated or immature to handle contact lenses, then you may be selling them short.
According to a recent College of Optometrists member survey, 92 per cent of optometrists said they fitted contact lenses to patients aged under 18, with a fifth of members prescribing them alongside spectacles to children under eight.
Nearly a quarter said they would recommend contact lenses as the primary form of vision correction for children aged 13 to 14, with this figure rising to 44.6 per cent by the time the child reached 15.
Sam Rolph, 15, plays football for King’s Lynn Elite football squad. He previously wore prescription sports goggles when playing, but now wears contact lenses. He says: “I was a bit unsure about trying contact lenses at the beginning, and it took me a while to get used to putting them in and taking them out.
“However, I knew that they would probably improve my experience on the pitch. Glasses can be a nuisance when you’re running at speed and when it’s raining they get wet. When I first stepped on to the pitch wearing my contact lenses, I wondered why I didn’t do it sooner.”
Sam’s optometrist Parth Shah, a college member, adds: “I knew Sam was dedicated to his sports and felt he would benefit from wearing contact lenses while on the pitch. Sometimes it can take a while for patients to get used to using contact lenses regularly, but for a patient like Sam it’s certainly worth persevering.”
Brian Tompkins, president of the British Contact Lens Association, says: ‘For children, contact lenses can offer life-changing opportunities, giving them extra freedom during sports, and a confidence boost if they’re self-conscious about their specs.
“In terms of long-term eye health, techniques such as myopia control, using orthokeratology lenses worn only overnight to reshape the cornea, or multifocal contact lenses worn during the day, have been found to be effective in slowing down myopia progression in children. This in turn lowers the chances of significant eye diseases developing in later life.”
So as well as the lifestyle advantages that contact lenses offer children, there are long-term eye health benefits too – a win-win for both child and parent.