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How young is too young to get contacts?

Dr. Michelle Calder-Cardwell is the owner and lead optometrist
at Urban Optiques Vision & Eyewear in Northville, MI.

Q. My 10-year-old daughter wants to switch from glasses to contacts. Do you think she's too young?

A. You may be surprised to learn that many doctors regularly prescribe contacts to children as young as 8 to 10 years old. While this is a big decision for you and your daughter, her age isn't the only thing you should consider.

First, you should evaluate how mature she is. To prevent dangerous eye infections, your daughter will need to regularly clean her contact lenses and case. If she already practices good hygiene habits and is generally responsible, she's on the right path.

Next, find out why she wants to wear contact lenses. Some kids find that their glasses interfere when they participate in sports and contacts are a good solution. Then, there's the whole cool factor. As they get older, many kids, especially girls, become self conscious about how they look. They think ditching their glasses will make them fit in. If the child is very motivated to wear contacts, is mature for her age, and is comfortable with touching her eyes, she may be a successful contact lens wearer at a young age. If the mom or dad has been wearing contacts for a long time then the success rate is higher when a parent assists the child with putting in and taking the contacts out.

Whatever her reason, if your 10-year-old is motivated and mature enough to take good care of her contacts, she may be a good candidate.

If you decide to move forward, the next step is to schedule a contact lens fitting with your VSP doctor. During the appointment, the doctor will discuss fitting contacts on the child and make recommendations to the parents based on the above factors. If everyone is comfortable with proceeding with the contact lens fitting, she'll be fit for the correct lenses and the doctor will explain everything she needs to know about wearing and caring for contact lenses.