Are contacts OK for kids?

August 11, 2009 4:12:01 AM PDT
Many youngsters wait until they're 16 to get contact lenses because it was thought to be a big deal to learn how to put the lenses into your eye. Now children as young as eight years old are getting contacts and it's not for vanity. It seems like a good idea, but are children this young ready?

"They're easier than glasses," said Alex Henderson.

At age 12, Alex traded her glasses for contacts after being hit in the face with a soccer ball and a volleyball. The latter broke her glasses.

"It scares you as a parent to let her get hit with something that can be sharp, so the contacts have just been wonderful," said Alex's mom.

Bianca Amador's glasses broke during a Physical Education class. She too switched to contacts.

"I love my contacts. Even if you get hit in the face, you can't get scratched," said Bianca.

The fastest growing group of new contact lens wearers are kids ages 8-11. Doctors say they're motivated, they can follow directions and many end up seeing better in contacts.

"It improves the child's likelihood of not being so near-sighted when they're an adult," said Dr. Desiree Hopping.

Dr. Hopping said besides the near-sightedness study, a second study called the Achieve Study found contacts improved self-esteem for pre-teen girls.

Ally Dixon learned to wear contacts at age nine. Dr. Hopping says it takes only 15 minutes to teach a child to use contacts.

"I do dancing and when I turn my glasses fall off. I got contacts and I do much better," said Ally.

Dr. Hopping recommends the one-day disposable lenses for kids.

"It's free of care. I don't have to worry about dirty cases," said Dr. Hopping.

Girls tend to do better than boys, but there have been few problems.

"I haven't seen any extra risk above that of a teenager or adult. In fact, maybe even less because the children really do what you say," said Dr. Hopping.

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Christi Myers is ABC13's Healthcheck reporter.

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