Pediatric and Teen CL Care

Positive Opinions About Kids in Contact Lenses

Pediatric and Teen CL Care

Positive Opinions About Kids in Contact Lenses

By Christine W. Sindt, OD, FAAO

In my November 2010 column, “Pediatric Prescribing Habits,” I discussed the ages at which optometrists believe it is appropriate to introduce contact lenses to children based on data from the recent Children & Contact Lenses study by the American Optometric Association (AOA) and supported by Vistakon. This month I will discuss fitting criteria for children and children's motivation for lens wear based on the study data.

Criteria for Fitting Children

The optometrists were asked to indicate whether they are more or less likely to fit children or whether they have changed their fitting criteria for children over the last year. For each of the age groups presented, more than three-fourths of respondents said that they have not changed their lens fitting criteria for children.

Of the doctors who indicated that their contact lens fitting criteria has changed, it was greatest for the 10- to 12-year-olds, with 21 percent of respondents more likely to fit children in this age group with contact lenses versus a year ago. Nearly 50 percent list daily disposable lenses or improved materials as the reason (Figure 1). Daily disposable lenses are the most frequently prescribed lenses for children 12 years old and younger. For children 13 to 17 years old, doctors tend to prescribe reusable contact lenses (i.e., two-week and monthly replacement) more often.

Figure 1. Why optometrists are more willing to fit contact lenses in children.

Motivation for Lens Wear

Nearly all (96 percent) respondents indicated that a child's interest and motivation to wear contact lenses is the most important factor to consider when fitting children. Also very important to optometrists were children's maturity level (93 percent), their ability to take care of contact lenses by themselves (89 percent), and their personal hygiene habits (89 percent). Participation in sports (84 percent), prescription requirements (77 percent), and the impact of contact lens wear on self-esteem (71 percent) rounded out the top seven factors seen as most important to optometrists.

Three in five (57 percent) respondents indicated that parents initiate the conversation about contact lens wear in children younger than 9 years old. Respondents say that the percentage of parents initiating the contact lens conversation falls as the age of the child increases. At ages 10 to 12, children and doctors start the contact lens discussion more often than before, and by the ages of 13 to 14, either the child or the optometrist generally initiates the conversation.

Two out of five (39 percent) optometrists said that parents request contact lenses for their child because the child refuses to wear glasses; 36 percent said parents note that the child's current vision correction interferes with sports, and 16 percent said parents want their child in contact lenses because the current form of vision correction interferes with daily activities. CLS

Dr. Sindt is a clinical associate professor of ophthalmology and director of the contact lens service at the University of Iowa Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences. She is also the chair-elect of the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section. She is a consultant or advisor to Alcon, Ciba Vision, and Vistakon and has received research funds from Alcon. You can reach her at