What is the appropriate age to begin wearing contact lenses?

I get asked this question almost on a daily basis.  The answer is there isn’t one age that makes it appropriate for your child to begin wearing contact lenses.  It really depends on the maturity level of the child, parental support and the child’s desire to wear contact lenses.  A study was published within the last year or so comparing different age groups of contact lens wearers.  The results of the study revealed that even children as young as seven can successfully wear contact lenses without complications.  The study also showed that younger patients do not have greater chances of getting infections.

I believe that with the proper education even children as young as seven can wear lenses.  I have seen that in my own practice.  I also think that there are very immature adolescents and teenagers that can’t handle the responsibility of wearing a lens.  For me I take the parent’s knowledge of the child’s maturity and the ability to handle the responsibility of caring for contact lenses and the child’s desire to wear them.  If the child doesn’t want them then it is a waste of everyone’s time to try.  I often ask parents if the child needs to be reminded to brush his or her teeth.  If the child needs constant reminders to do basic hygiene activities at home then maybe waiting longer before beginning to wear lenses would be better.

Ultimately I make the decision based on a discussion with both the parent and the child.  If both feel the child is ready then I am comfortable performing a contact lens fitting at almost any age.