Pediatric and Teen CL Care
Out of the Mouths of Parents About Their Babes in Lenses
By Christine W. Sindt, OD, FAAO
I recently asked parents in an online forum (Association of Parents Having a Kid in Contacts [APHAKIC], http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/aphakic) about what they wished their eyecare providers had told them when starting the journey of aphakia and contact lenses.
Following are some of their responses.
What Parents Want to Hear— And What They Learned Through Experience
Explain all the options. I wish my doctor had told me that there were more contact lenses out there than just Silsoft (Bausch + Lomb) and more about why Silsoft was chosen, other than “because I think it is best.” I was never warned that we would lose so many lenses, and the financial hit was a big shock.
Offer support in many ways. I wish my doctor had recommended a support group. I wish he had put me in contact with other parents in his practice or had taken me up on my offer to let other parents contact me.
Empower parents. Don't treat parents as fragile beings, but don't expect us to be ready to jump into battle either. We need the truth! So many doctors don't think we can handle contact lenses, and the parents of those doctors will struggle.
Give us information, but also give us your time. Don't say, “Your baby has cataracts and needs surgery immediately,” and then walk out of the room and bring back a pamphlet.
Verbal cues help with application and removal. Talk to your baby. I always said “contact time” for removal and application and “contact check” when I did my 50th check of the day. By 10 months old, we had no fights.
Stress the importance of daily removal. It is best for the eye and best for routine for both the child and the parent. The lenses are cleaner and less irritating to the child. Routine wise, it really is like brushing teeth. In the beginning, I never believed the parents who said it—but it is true. My son actually stood still for contact lenses and ran from the toothbrush! Daily removal helped lessen my anxiety.
Do something silly after removal and application. I used to do a silly cheer. My son loved it. This is for the child—and the first few times for the parent (smile).
Allow children, even young ones, to handle an old contact lens, even rigorously if they choose. Playing with an old lens helps take away the feeling of the unknown.
Have empty contact lens cases and empty solution bottles in a play medical kit. All of our “patients,” even our dog, “wore” contact lenses and had their eyes checked. This helped with compliance for eye exams.
Use their stuffed animals or dolls with the application and removal routine. This allows children to get ready and be calm. Don't be surprised if your child is rough when applying or removing lenses on his “friends.” Pretend play helps children work through their fears and provides them with a sense of control over the situation.
If a parent chooses to use rewards, make certain that the rewards are for doing removal/application without crying, screaming, kicking, or whatever the behavior is. The child needs to know that the contact lenses are going on and coming off regardless of behavior. The reward is for staying still. The reward is not for getting the contact lenses on or off.
Allow yourself to cry and to be upset that you have to do this for your child. 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 the past chair of the AOA Cornea and Contact Lens Council. She is a consultant or advisor to Alcon Vision Care and Vistakon and has received research funds from Alcon. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.|