Teaching children how to properly handle contact lenses involves not only educating the children, but also their caregivers. Efficiently communicating clear instructions to both parent and child is key for ensuring success in this special population. This article will discuss how to teach contact lens handling, specifically lens application and removal, to children.
Where to Start
While various factors such as maturity and dexterity are involved, children as young as age 4 can remove their contact lenses. They may be able to apply their lenses themselves as early as age 6 years. Typically, by age 10 to 12, children can take on full responsibility of contact lens handling and care (Walline et al, 2014).
Primary importance should be placed on contact lens removal as opposed to contact lens application. Inability to remove contact lenses can result in eye injury, whereas failing to apply lenses has less chance of harming the eye (Walline et al, 2014).
In the beginning, involve the parents in the process of contact lens care and handling. Some children may grasp either lens application or lens removal faster and will learn the other later. In such cases, teach the parents how to apply and remove the contact lenses on their child so that they are able to help the patient early on.
A staff member should emphasize that lens handling is easy and that the contact lens is comfortable on the eye. You an accomplish this by having a staff member apply and remove a contact lens from his or her own eye in front of the child and parents.
Next, instruct the parents and child about the importance of proper hygiene. Have patients demonstrate washing their hands with soap and water and then drying them before lens handling.
Teaching Application and Removal
For contact lens application, instruct children to open the eye by stabilizing the upper lid against the brow bone and pulling down the lower lid using the index and middle fingers of one hand or of both hands, whichever feels most comfortable to each patient. Then, apply the lens using the free index finger (Figure 1).
For soft lens removal, instruct children to open and stabilize the lids by either method mentioned above. They should then use the free index finger to slide the lens off of the cornea. Alternatively, if the lids are opened using one hand, the free index finger and thumb of the other hand can be used to pinch the lens off of the eye.
Teach patients to remove a GP contact lens by pulling their lids temporally, thus ejecting the lens out of the eye.
Because children are willing to listen and learn, and they are eager to please, teaching them contact lens handling is fun and easy. Training your staff to teach the children and their caregivers will yield the best results, leading to happy and healthy long-term contact lens wearers. CLS
To obtain references for this article, please visit www.clspectrum.com/references and click on document #261.