Secrets to Successfully Fitting Children with GP Contact Lenses
BY MARJORIE J. RAH, OD, PHD
I love to fit children with contact lenses. Lately, I've devoted much of my time to fitting children and adolescents, eight to 14 years of age, with contact lenses. When it comes to fitting kids with GP lenses, which can sometimes prove a little tricky, some specific clinical pearls have served me well. I'll share these with you.
Select a Good Candidate
While many children prefer to wear spectacles, many others simply don't like to wear spectacles. Many of these children are leaving their spectacles in Mom's purse, at home, at school during summer vacation and countless other places. These are the children who benefit from contact lens wear.
In addition, most children today have more active lifestyles and social calendars than do adults. Children involved in activities such as sports, dancing and modeling are excellent candidates. These children are likely already patients in your practice. A new contact lens patient may be as close as mentioning the option to the child's parent.
Figure 1. Dr. Rah instilling anesthetic eye drops in a young contact lens patient.
Heed the Warning Signs
For a child to qualify as a successful candidate in any type of contact lenses, both the parent and the child should be motivated. Having an unmotivated parent or child is likely to result in noncompliance.
Noncompliance often leads to contact lens complications. Complications are obviously undesirable for any patient, but it's especially worrisome in such a young age group.
Some Kids Cry
Eye exams and contact lens fittings can seem frightening for children. Use of an anesthetic before application of the first diagnostic lens improves the experience and reduces anxiety. But remember, some children may still cry. This doesn't indicate a bad candidate; it simply leads me to the next clinical pearl.
Patience is a Virtue
Even when children cry, it usually indicates anxiety or fear. Take a moment to allow the child to relax, answer any questions and provide reassurance.
One of the most time-consuming portions of the contact lens fitting is the training session. Teaching a child application and removal of a contact lens requires a lot of energy and patience. A positive attitude goes a long way.
Don't Tell Lies
Be honest about what to expect. Anesthetic eye drops may sting and GP contact lenses cause "lens awareness." The quickest and easiest way to gain the trust of your young patient is with honesty. It doesn't take long for a child to discover a lie and that trust is difficult to regain.
A Rewarding Fit
While it may take more chair time, fitting children with GP contact lenses can prove fun and rewarding. Some of my best days at work are filled with children wearing contact lenses. Did I mention that I love to fit kids with contact lenses?
Dr. Rah is an assistant professor at the New England College of Optometry where she works primarily in the Cornea and Contact Lens Service in patient care, teaching and research.