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Contacts for teens: What age can you wear contacts?

Teen boy removing glasses from face

Many teens want to replace their glasses with contact lenses, primarily for cosmetic reasons. But there are other good reasons for teenagers to make the switch to contacts, too.

Most refractive errors are easily corrected with contact lenses — even astigmatism.

In most cases, teens will see just as well with contact lenses as they do with glasses, or even better. Contact lenses offer clearer peripheral vision and less distortion than glasses because the contact lens sits directly on the eye, and there is no frame to limit vision.

Teens involved in sports especially will appreciate contact lenses. Wearing contacts for recreational sports gives teens clearer vision and allows them to wear needed protective eyewear or headgear over contact lenses.

Allowing teens to choose contact lenses over glasses for vision correction may prompt them to wear sunglasses more frequently as well. They will need to carry only a pair of sunglasses, rather than prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses.

Protecting the eyes from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays is important in the long run for healthy vision.

Daily disposable contacts eliminate the need (and cost) of lens care

Many parents are concerned about the amount of care involved in wearing contact lenses. Today, most care systems are quite simple. And daily disposable contact lenses can eliminate the need for lens care products altogether.

Contact lenses boost self-esteem, especially among teenage girls, according to recent research.

Another parental concern is teen responsibility for contact lenses. Most teens have the maturity to wear and care for contact lenses, but you know your teen best.

Discuss your concerns with your teenager and your optician. If your optician feels your teen isn't ready, contact lenses won't be prescribed.

Also, contact lens wear should be discontinued if your teen isn't following your optician’s recommendations regarding wearing time and lens care.

When teenagers bear some of the financial responsibility of wearing contact lenses, they often take better care of their lenses. You may want to think about asking your child to pay for some of the costs related to contact lens wear to encourage them to be more responsible.

Contact lenses build self-esteem in teens

One of the greatest benefits of wearing contact lenses for some teens is that it helps them feel better about themselves and their appearance.

In the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) study,* researchers evaluated the psychological effects contact lens wear had on children and young teenagers who switched from glasses to contacts for a period of three years.

The study found that contact lenses significantly improve how children and teens feel about their physical appearance, acceptance among friends, and ability to play sports.

Girls especially experienced a boost in self-esteem from wearing contacts. Contact lenses even make some kids more confident about their academic performance, according to the study's lead investigator.

Contacts that change eye colour

Coloured contact lenses are a fun way for teens to change their appearance.

If your teen has blue or green eyes, contacts with transparent colours can enhance or intensify the colour of his/her eyes. If she has dark brown eyes, contacts with opaque colours can change his/her eye colour to blue, green, violet, and a variety of other colours.

Special-effect contact lenses (or theatrical contact lenses) can even make teen eyes look like those of a cat or other animal (or even a vampire or other startling creature) for Halloween parties or other special occasions.

With any contact lens wear, your optician must first examine your teen’s eyes to make sure they are healthy and that there is no risk of dry eye discomfort or other problems from contact lens wear.

A contact lens fitting and follow-up care must then be performed before your optician can issue a final contact lens prescription.

Also, your teen will need regular eye exams to monitor their vision and eye health when wearing contact lenses.

IS YOUR TEEN READY FOR CONTACT LENSES? Visit an eye doctor near you.

*The ACHIEVE Study was sponsored by the Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Institute.

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