Introducing contact lenses to kids
Sharing tips on starting the contact lens conversation with children and their parents
Keith Tempany, Indie Grewal
12 January 2021
There are many good reasons that contact lenses should be offered to all patients irrespective of age, because of the positive impact they can have on quality of life. This is especially the case for children. Indeed, a study comparing children and teenagers who had been contact lens wearers for 10 years or more concluded that age should not be the deciding factor in whether or not to offer contact lenses.
For successful introduction of contact lenses to paediatric patients, it is important to lead the conversation with specific benefits for the individual using examples of where contact lenses can be better than spectacles – for example, playing sports. Other key insights from research can be shared, which show that youngsters feel their physical appearance, sporting prowess and social acceptance improve with contact lens wear. It is also a sad reality that spectacle wearing children are 35% more likely to be bullied than those who don’t wear them.
Daily disposables will usually be the first choice for children as this minimises the risk of serious complications, especially as it removes potential problems of poor case hygiene
Parents and children will have many misconceptions about being fitted with contact lenses at a young age, so it is important to allay their fears. Research published in 2017 showed that the risk of serious infection in paediatric contact lens wearers is no higher than in adults. In fact, in the younger age group of eight to 11 year olds, it is significantly less, which is probably due to better compliance and parental supervision. It is worth bearing in mind that many parents may have been fitted with contact lenses themselves in their mid to late teens or early adulthood due to the limited availability of contact lens prescriptions, materials or designs. Therefore, they may not be aware of product advancements that make contact lenses suitable for children.
If there is any hesitancy to proceed, ask them to go home and think of 10 things that would be better to do in contact lenses than in spectacles. They could get the whole family involved in this project and go through the list with them at the next appointment.
Parents and children will have many misconceptions about being fitted with contact lenses at a young age, so it is important to allay their fears
Daily disposables will usually be the first choice for children as this minimises the risk of serious complications, especially as it removes potential problems of poor case hygiene. The cost of daily disposables can be presented as ‘price per wear calculation,’ which allows parents to consider part-time options for wear, perhaps for particular activities.
In clinical practice, the authors have had great success in the ‘all day comfort trial.’ The child is able to trial contact lenses for a half or whole day, while remaining within the locality of their practice. This enables the patient to experience what life would be like wearing contact lenses for sport, a day out and as an alternative method of vision correction.
The first mention of contact lenses can be just to sow the seed, but do remember to follow up at the next appointment or with a phone call a little while later. Both authors have seen life-changing differences that contact lenses can bring about for youngsters, benefitting the wearer, the parents and the practice.
About the authorsKeith Tempany is a multiple award-winning contact lens practitioner and former president of the BCLA
Indie Grewal is a qualified dispensing optician and optometrist and current president of the BCLA
More Practice team resources: Contact lenses for younger patients
Your contact lenses for younger patients resources guide
Are contact lenses safe for children?
Refraction changes in children
On the front line
Seeing the benefits
Application and removal without the tears and tantrums
Cases from practice
Contact lenses for younger patients: a guide for every practice