FAQs About Little Ones in Contact Lenses

I’ve had a child in contact lenses for a couple years now. And she’s not yet seven.

 

This is sometimes often shocking to people. I get lots of incredulous looks and tons of questions. So, just in case you’ve had some of the same queries, I thought I’d go ahead and address some of the most common ones right here.

 

Ready? Here goes…

 

1. She can put them in and take them out all by herself???

 

No. No, she cannot. At least 80% of people ask me this question and, honestly, it still staggers me a bit, but it was even crazier when she was only four. Anyway, no, she cannot handle the insertion and removal of contact lenses on her own. That’s definitely a “parent job.”

 

2. Do you have to do that every day?

 

No. She is allowed to wear this type of lenses for one week straight, then takes a night off to let her eyes rest.

 

3. Who puts them in? Is that your job?

 

I’d say about 75% of the time, it’s Daddy’s job. That might seem odd since I’M the one of the two of us who actually wears contacts, but, for us, it works. I think part of it might be that I don’t have much patience for people who aren’t good at putting things in their eyes. Since I’ve been doing it since I was 12, I’m pretty tolerant and adept. He, on the other hand, is awful about eye drops and all that, so he can put up with more blinking and stuff.

 

4. Does she have perfect vision with the lenses?

 

Nope. Not even close, really. She’s still two and five diopters off from corrected, respectively. And that’s significant. It’s better correction than she was getting with glasses, but it’s not perfect. The contacts she’d need to fully correct are several hundred dollars a pop and neither her doctor nor her parents feel that’s a good option for a six-year-old.

 

5. So, you just let her not see very well, then?

 

Well, here’s the thing. Various ages have different “vision field needs”, if you will. When C. was a baby and she constantly took her glasses off, I was frustrated. I expressed this to her eye doctor and he told me this: “She’ll wear them when she needs to. Everything she needs to see right now is close to her– your face, her hands, that toy she’s about to gnaw on. Little babies don’t do distance motor planning, so it’s unnecessary for her to see well that far away.”

 

He was right. As she moved into toddlerhood, she willingly wore the glasses. Similarly, as she gets older, the distance vision requirements are getting more demanding. Fonts get smaller. Writing becomes critical. Reading and math are big parts of her day.

 

Later this month, I will confer with her ophthalmologist and we will discuss layering a weaker glasses lens OVER the contacts to give her more precise correction. It’s an ongoing process to ensure she’s getting the best and most appropriate correction we can offer.

 

6. What’s the most challenging part?

 

Well, putting them in and taking them out is a little bit of a pain. Quite frankly, just REMEMBERING when we need to take them out can be a challenge. She also sometimes fails to mention when one lens has fallen out, so that’s not particularly fun.

 

Far and away, though, the biggest challenge is simply that she’s little and, thus, does foolish little kid things from time to time… like poking her fingernail through each of the foil tops and, as a result, causing them all to dry and shrivel. Yeah… not the greatest discovery. But, for the most part, she’s learning to be responsible and does a pretty good job.

 

It’s definitely not a common thing to find a first grader in contacts– especially one with over two years of experience under her belt. For us, though, it’s just part of ┬álife. We’re ever-so-grateful to have made the switch that allows her to see more of this beautiful world in which we live.

 

Do you have any more questions about little kids wearing contact lenses? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer!

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10 comments to FAQs About Little Ones in Contact Lenses

  • I had no idea she wore contacts! Such a miracle girl :). And its so great that you and your husband can work things out as to what works best. Oh, and such a cute picture too!

    • I didn’t realize you didn’t know that, Miranda! So funny that I must not have mentioned it clearly any time recently. :) C. got glasses when she was 10 months old and made the switch to contacts at age 4. She is VERY near-sighted and definitely needs the correction. But, since we were initially told there was an 85% chance she’d go totally blind, we count this as a major WIN. :)

  • I guess I belonged to the “too young for contacts” crowd, but I’m glad to learn that there are options for young children when their vision is very poor. One thing I’ve always wondered about little kids and glasses would also apply to contacts….how in the world do the docs figure out the specific adjustments needed?? These little kids can’t be any good at the “Which is better, 1 or 2 questions?? So what do they do??

    • Our ophthalmologist’s youngest contact patient was under a month old– crazy, huh?? By this time, C. does a pretty good job answering “better or worse” questions, but, mostly from about age 4 on, they rely on asking the children to identify pictures of various sizes. The doctor changes lenses accordingly until the child can identify the proper size from the proper distance.

      Now, when they’re even younger than that, it’s very interesting. The ophthalmologist will hold a lens in front of the child’s eyes and then capture his or her attention with a toy or flashing light. The doctor shines a tiny light from the side and watches the refraction of the eye to determine when optimal vision is achieved. Obviously, not all eye doctors are qualified to do this. It’s really important to find a very good and specialized ophthalmologist when dealing with a baby or toddler and vision correction. :)

      • Kathy

        My child has been wearing glasses from an early age. His doctor turned on a movie and used a light to watch his eyes and determine his needs. I still remember the first time, he watched 101 Dalmations. His doctor prefers contacts to be started when the child can put in the contacts by themselves, usually around 10, but our child’s needs are not as extreme as your daughter’s. I just thank God for the technology that allows them to help children see.

        • I, too, thank God for the advancements that have allowed for vision correction! Quite honestly, MY vision definitely needs correction, though I’m not nearly so near-sighted as C. I did not get my contacts until I was 12, and I think that is a fairly common time. Were it not for the fact that C’s peripheral vision was so poor that walking down stairs was akin to stepping into an abyss, we very well may have held off longer. (In my case, it was more vanity than improved vision if I’m being truthful.) But, for C., it has definitely improved her quality of life. :)

  • Reese started “wearing” glasses at 11 months. What a joke. Once he turned 3 he wore them pretty willingly at preschool but flung them off the second he was in the car. Now that he’s 5 he actually puts them on himself sometimes. But really his visual needs still pretty close to his face. It helps that our tv is 52 inches or I think he would need them to watch shows. I’m assuming in the next couple of years he’ll need to see father away and wear them more regularly.

    • I do find it super interesting how children do a pretty good job of “self-regulating” their vision needs as they grow. When Dr. Neely told me that, back in Indiana, I thought he was crazy. Honestly, I just wanted a strap or something to keep them ON her face. But, alas, he was totally right. (He was also totally gorgeous… all the nurses got weak in the knees at the mere mention of Dr. Neely. :D)

  • Celine

    It is great that you have such wonderful Dr’s who are aware and willing to reccommend the best options for your child regardless of her age.

    • One of the most important things I did before leaving Indiana was call our most trusted doctors and ask for personal recommendations for our new area. I’m so glad I took the time to do that– I know of many people who have not had such great experiences, and I think that the practitioner really can make all the difference in the world.

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