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Eye on safety: Good hygiene necessary for children who wear contact lenses :

November 13, 2018

If your child wears glasses, she might wonder when she can start wearing contact lenses.

There is no magic age. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to consider how responsible their child is when making the decision.

Nearly 15% of 12- to 17-year-olds wear contact lenses. Children want to wear contacts for many of the same reasons as adults: looks, durability and a clear view from all angles. Contact lenses do not break like frames and lenses of glasses can. They also improve peripheral (side) vision when driving or playing sports.

Don’t throw away those glasses, though. Your child still will need them, especially if she develops an eye infection. Eyes can get infected when lenses are exposed to germs. This can happen after sleeping in contacts, wearing them longer than prescribed, using expired products, storing them in tap water and wearing them while bathing or swimming.

To avoid these risks:

Wash hands. Before touching contacts, wash hands in warm, soapy water and dry them well.

Avoid water. Do not wear lenses when swimming or bathing, and never clean or store contact lenses or their case in water. If lenses touch water, throw them away or disinfect them in fresh solution.

Use the right products. Use fresh solution each time. Wash the case in solution. Dry it with a clean tissue and store upside down with the caps off. Replace the case at least every three months.

Did your child wear eye guards or special prescription frames when playing sports? The AAP recommends that these athletes continue to protect their eyes.

Contact lens wearers have three options: remove contacts and wear prescription lenses in a sports frame; wear contacts and sport-appropriate eye protection or wear a protective sport-specific guard over prescription eyeglasses. Look for eyewear products for impact sports labeled with “ASTM standard F803,” according to the AAP.

Decorative contact lenses also have become popular among kids. They change eye color, shape or add an image on the eye. Only buy and wear professionally fitted cosmetic contact lenses prescribed by an eye doctor, the AAP warns. Wearing contacts that do not fit properly can cause scratches, cuts and infections.

Supervise younger children to make sure they follow their doctor’s instructions, the AAP advises. Frequent reminders also help teens set a routine for responsible care. For more eye care tips, visit

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