When Can My Child Start Wearing Contacts?

Posted on August 13, 2017

When Can My Child Start Wearing Contacts?

By: Jeffrey Colburn, MD

We are frequently asked by children who wear glasses and/or their parents, at what point can we switch to contacts? The answer to this depends greatly on the individual child. There are significant risks of serious eye infections if hygiene is poor or contacts are mishandled. Such an infection could have life-long effects on the eyes and vision. With that in mind, a rule of thumb would be that most children need to be at least 11-12 years old before they are responsible enough to handle contacts. A few children may be candidates for contacts sooner if they are extremely responsible, have good hygiene habits, and the family is already familiar with contacts. A few will not be ready even as teenagers.

An important side note is that if someone has one good eye and one poorly seeing eye, they should remain in glasses with shatterproof lens material as a protective barrier for their good eye. This might be a life-long need for glasses if the vision in the bad eye can not be improved. Even the relatively low risk of a serious eye injury to their good eye is not a risk worth taking. For a child or teenager in this situation, we will not allow them to go into contacts and will focus on wearing glasses as their long term fashion statement!