When a Child Hates Glasses

Some image-conscious children balk at the idea of wearing glasses. But is a 10-year-old too young for contact lenses?

Q: My 10-year-old refuses to wear her glasses because she thinks they make her look "nerdy." Is she old enough for contact lenses?

A: Age is not the main consideration when it comes to contacts. "Children as young as one have been fitted with lenses," says Richard S. Kavner, O.D., New York City-based author of Your Child's Vision. "But the younger a child is, the more other people, meaning Mom and Dad, will have to be involved in putting the contacts in, taking them out, and making sure they stay clean.

"Also, although contacts are safe in general, they pose a greater risk of infection and abrasion. Ask your daughter what she thinks is "nerdy" about her glasses. If it's how they look or feel on her face, you can help her find frames that fit and feel better."

If your daughter is adamant about her appearance, then consult with her ophthalmologist to see if it makes sense to consider contacts. If she doesn't have the dexterity to care for the contacts herself, you'll need to be closely involved. Choosing the best lenses depends on her specific vision defect, adds Dr. Kavner, and she'll need a checkup every three months.

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