Glasses or Contact Lenses? How to Know Which is Best for Your Child

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Has your child’s optometrist recommended corrective lenses? With more than 60 percent of the population wearing glasses or contact lenses, they’re not alone. Getting their first pair of glasses or contacts is a milestone for many kids and teens, but how do parents decide which is best for their child? Here are four factors that can help you choose.

Age and Maturity Level

Contacts require a great deal more care than glasses, so children who always forget to brush their teeth or wash their hair may not be the best candidates. Kids who aren’t old enough or mature enough to keep their contacts clean and in good shape can suffer injuries and infections from improper use. Make sure your child won’t wear dirty lenses, clean them with spit or swap contact lenses with friends.

Sports and Activities

You might think that contact lenses and sports don’t mix, but many eye doctors recommend contacts for athletes. Glasses don’t provide peripheral vision correction, which means that your child’s athletic performance may suffer. It’s also easy to lose or break glasses while playing sports. However, children who participate in water sports like swimming and diving should avoid wearing contacts in the pool due to the risk of irritation and infection.

Eye Health

Contact lenses work best for healthy eyes. If your child suffers from frequent eye infections or allergies, wearing contact lenses can increase irritation and even result in vision loss. Wearing contact lenses can also reduce the flow of oxygen to the cornea, a condition called hypoxia, in some wearers. If your child wears contacts, make sure they practice good eye care and remove the lenses at the first sign of problems.

Type of Vision Correction

While nearsightedness and farsightedness are easily corrected with contact lenses, a condition called astigmatism is more complicated. A common cause of poor vision in kids and teens, astigmatism is a genetic condition that causes the cornea of the eye to be shaped like a football instead of a sphere. Regular soft contact lenses are not good at correcting this problem, which means that your child may need to use glasses or a special type of contacts if they have astigmatism.

If you and your child still can’t decide between glasses and contact lenses, keep in mind that many people use both. Check with your vision insurance plan to see if two types of vision correction are covered and remember to ask your child’s optometrist for both prescriptions.

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