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Posted on 02-08-2016

Kids and Contacts

It would seem more and more parents at our practice want to get their kids into contact lenses, whether it be for comfort, sports, or just simply that the child doesn’t like to wear glasses. All of these can be looked at as valid reasons for wanting contact lenses prescribed to a young adult however there are some risks involved and as long as a few simple guidelines are followed successful contact lens wearing can be achieved.

The first and most important rule to follow is overwearing the lenses. I find that overwearing generally comes not from people not caring about the wearing schedule but mostly from not being educated by the contact lens fitter. The problem with overwearing contacts is that the cornea needs oxygen to live and nourish the cells and tissue, especially the last layer (endothelium) of cells on the cornea. If it does not receive enough oxygen it can cause corneal swelling. If the cornea continues to lack oxygen it will start growing new blood vessels to get the needed oxygen, which will lead to decreased vision. This is why it is still necessary to have a good, current pair of glasses that way these problems can be avoided.

Next would be the risk of infection. The eye is a perfect place for bacteria to grow, its moist, warm, and dark when we sleep. When contact lenses are not cleaned properly (or overworn) bacteria can grow on them which can lead to serious infections of the eye. Cleaning and wearing the contacts in a proper manner will help keep this from happening.

The next most common problem to arise would be conjunctivitis. There are several types of conjunctivitis that can occur. There is allergic conjunctivitis which is more common in people who already have seasonal allergies and eventually come into contact with something that triggers the reaction in the eye. There is toxic conjunctivitis which usually is a reaction to ingredients in a solution or some other chemical. Another most common form is called giant papillary conjunctivitis, which has also been called contact lens–induced papillary conjunctivitis, and is when large papillae on the underside of the upper lid start to grow.

Even though there are some possibility for problems with contact lens wearing with children, as well as adults, contacts shouldn’t be feared. Simply being cautious about your ocular health and being educated about the lenses themselves will lead to the successful use of contacts for many years.

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