Wednesday, 4 December 2013

So when is the right time for kids to wear contact lenses?

Disclosure : I wrote this blogpost while participating in an influencer campaign by Mumsnet on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

You know how you sometimes try to work out what your kids have inherited from each parent? Well, my eldest daughter Sophie (aged 12) has definitely got my stupidly thick hair and loony sense of humour. Unfortunately, one of the things she inherited from her dad is his eyes - they both have hypermetropia (long-sightedness) and astigmatism. She's had glasses ever since she was little and has been quite happy wearing them so far, looking for cool pairs "like Katy Perry wears" or flashy coloured frames. Recently, though, she's started mumbling about wanting contact lenses so I've replied evasively about looking into it when she's older. The problem is, I have no idea how old "older" is or should be. I had a bit of a shock realisation last week (with the arrival of her first period - eeeek!) thay my little girl isn't a little girl any more at all. 

It was therefore perfect timing for Mumsnet to send me through a very informative report that they have created with  Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, manufacturer of ACUVUE Brand Contact Lenses, about how parents and, all importantly, kids feel about vision correction. I had a good read and discovered :

- 97% of vision-corrected children wear glasses - eight in 10 (79%) wear glasses only, 18% wear glasses and contact lenses and 3% wear contact lenses only. There were no differences for this response between the parents of boys and girls.

- Of those whose child wears glasses, about half (48%) of parents agree that their child likes wearing glasses, 39% say their child does not like wearing them, and 13% are unsure. More than half (58%) of children surveyed said they like wearing glasses, while one-third (33%) say they don't. Younger children aged 10 – 14 (60%) are more likely to say they enjoy wearing their glasses compared to just over half (53%) of older teens aged 15 – 17. Two-fifths (42%) of children who wear glasses say they sometimes feel self-conscious when wearing them. Girls (44%) are slightly more likely than boys (39%) to say they sometimes feel self-conscious when wearing glasses.

So, I'm not an expert in statistics, but this would suggest to me that pretty much all parents go for the obvious option and kit their children out with glasses but, as they hit that difficult teen period and start feeling self-conscious and wanting to experiment with hair and make-up and clothes, most kids - in particular girls - wish they could ditch the glasses. That's pretty much what I expected to hear. But are contact lenses any more popular? Well apparently yes.

- A whopping 92% of parents surveyed say that their child likes wearing contact lenses, which correlates with 93% of children who agree that they like wearing them. Almost all (97%) parents whose child wears contact lenses say that their child wears soft lenses, with over half of parents and children surveyed reporting that the child wears a daily disposable contact lens (worn once and thrown away at the end of the day).

That's interesting, because I always thought it must be a bit icky getting used to putting in and taking out contact lenses and I know I wouldn't really want to get involved in helping Sophie "put her eyes in or out", if I can avoid it. Finding the whole experience unpleasant and maybe even painful is the main reason why I haven't really wanted to go down this route yet. But nobody seems to dislike using contact lenses, which actually surprised me.

- Three-quarters (76%) of parents surveyed agree that whatever the Eyer Care Professional recommends is the right choice for their child’s vision correction. 

That's obviously very true and our optometrists/opticians have never even vaguely mentioned the idea of switching over to contacts - although they have mentioned that Juliette, who needs much stronger correction, probably wouldn't ever be able to wear contact lenses because they'd be too thick.

- Two in five parents (40%) say they are comfortable with the idea of contact lenses for adults but not for children, and that they do not feel their child is old enough to wear contact lenses. On average, parents believe that the ‘right’ age for children to start wearing contact lenses is 14 years old. One fifth (21%) think it should be at age 16, while 13 percent believe a child can start wearing contact lenses at age 12. Only one in five parents (17%) are aware that children as young as 8-years old are capable of contact
lens wear.

As a mum to an 8-year-old, I have to say, I don't think Juliette would be capable of looking after contact lenses just yet. Seeing how filthy her hands are most days when she comes home from school, I wouldn't be too happy about her putting them anywhere near her eyes ! Sophie probably is ready though. Both of the girls have mentioned getting their glasses knocked off during sport or having a sore nose at the end of the day where their glasses rest on the bridge of their nose on more than one occasion, so the self esteem/looking cool aspect isn't the only one to take into account.

I'm still not sure really but it is something that I'll bring up at Sophie's next eye test. What about you? Have any of your kids started using contact lenses yet and, if so, at what age did they get their first pair?

(Both glasses and contact lenses are good options for people who need vision correction. Parents should talk to their eye care professional about what vision correction options are best for their child. To locate an Eye Care Professional in your area, visit the “Find an Optician” tab at

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Sophie & Juliette are Glasses-Half-Full Kinda Girls !

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