‘Are contact lenses safe for children?’, this is the most common question which is asked by almost all the parents of children who want to try lenses. The craze of wearing lenses is much higher in teenagers.
Yes, children can wear contact lenses. But at the same time, it is very essential that your child acts responsibly and uses it with utmost care. Whether a child is not responsible or mature enough to wear lenses, then it is parents’ responsibility to make sure that their kid wears it properly and nothing goes wrong in that process.
Some children are born with cataracts and we operate on those cataracts and after the surgery we actually teach the mother to make that one-month-old child wear contact lenses. So, wearing contact lenses have nothing to do with age and yes, they are safe for children as long as we take care of them.
Parents' responsibility matters
A contact lens is a foreign object being placed on the surface of the eye. Thus, the lens has to be very clean before we wear them. Contact lenses also cover the cornea and they thus end up reducing the oxygen reaching the cornea. Hence, for these two reasons, eye specialists advise to take off the lenses before sleeping, going for a shower or say for swimming.
Contact lenses have to be taken out every night before sleeping and cleaned and placed in their boxes. Nowadays, with daily disposable lenses becoming popular, the daily cleaning process has been done away with, none the less, these lenses have to be taken out.
A group of children that we see who are wearing contact lenses more often than others are the one who play sports. Contact lenses in sports offer a few advantages. The first is it increases the peripheral vision of the child. You don’t have the obstructions of the spectacle frame and when the peripheral vision goes up, your reflexes or ability to respond to a moving object like a ball also enhances. The other advantage is they can’t fall off of the eyes as easily as glasses can.
There are certain lenses that are being made to reduce the speed of myopia progression. Myopia is a condition in which you have negative or minus numbered glasses. All of you who are reading this or who may be interested in wearing contact lenses most likely have myopia. These lenses are called Ortho-k lenses. They have to be worn at night and be left in the eye till the morning.
These lenses actually change the shape of the cornea, thus changing your eye number. When you get up in the morning, you take out these lenses and that child will actually be glass free for the rest of the day. Of course, the next night the child has to again wear the lenses and go to sleep.
The most important complication of wearing contact lenses is an eye infection. This is the reason why showering or swimming is not allowed with the lenses. If the eye ever feels itchy or becomes red and painful it is very important that you remove the lenses right away and go and see your eye doctor. So, coming to the first question, are contact lenses safe in children? Yes, they are safe. All we have to do is take proper precautions.
(Dr Deepak Garg is a Cataract and Squint specialist and Founder of Eye Solutions, Mumbai)