Contact lenses like CooperVision’s Avaira, Biofinity, and Proclear 1 Day are more comfortable than eyeglasses for sports and many other childhood activities.

The latest research provides insights into the dilemma of recommending cls for children.

You’ve been there before. That moment at the end of the examination of a girl or boy aged 11 who needs vision correction when you debate whether to bring up contact lenses. You’re not sure if the parent and child have discussed contact lenses yet and you don’t know if you want to get involved in this conversation. The truth is, you’re the doctor and your patients come to you for professional advice. While personality and maturity differ greatly among many tweens and teens, most care greatly about social acceptance and appearance.

Some interesting studies have been published over the past few years that look into the attitudes and effects of contact lens wear on young patients, and when the right time is to recommend them.

One of the more widely publicized studies, the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) Study evaluated the self-perception of children who wore either contact lenses or glasses. The three-year study of children aged 8 to11 showed contact lens wearers felt significantly better about their physical appearance, athletic competence, and social acceptance than spectacle wearers. Scholastic competence was also higher for contact lens wearers, but only for those who were not satisfied with spectacle wear initially. The ACHIEVE Study was supported by funding from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. and The Vision Care Institute™, LLC, a John-son & Johnson Co.

Another well-known study was the Contact Lenses In Pediatrics (CLIP) Study conducted at The Ohio State University College of Optometry, New England College of Optometry, and University of Houston

A higher percentage of patients wearing contacts, like CIBA VISION’s AIR OPTIX Aqua, return for examinations every year compared to spectacle wearers.

School of Optometry. Sponsored by VISTAKON, the CLIP Study compared contact lens fitting and follow-up between children aged 8 to 12 and teenagers aged 13 to 17. It examined the benefits of lens wear for children and teens to see if children benefit as much as teens from contact lenses as a treatment for refractive error. The results showed that contact lens wear dramatically improved how children and teens felt about their appearance and participation in activities, leading to greater satisfaction with their refractive error correction.

Furthermore, the CLIP Study results indicated that age alone is not an appropriate criterion for determining if a young person can be fitted with contact lenses. Children and teens in the study physiologically adjusted to contact lens wear similarly, and both age groups provided adequate contact lens care. Researchers concluded eyecare professionals should consider routinely offering contact lenses as a treatment option, even for children as young as those aged 8.

In addition, CooperVision conducted a survey of teen and tween vision correction compliance in December 2009. CooperVision, in conjunction with Braun Research, administered a 35-question survey to 503 kids aged 8 to 18 and 500 parents of kids aged 8 to 18 in the U.S. The survey explored teen and parental attitudes toward eyeglasses and contact lenses. Overall, the study found that children who have contacts are generally responsible and take proper care of their lenses with guidance from their eye doctors. Parents considered their children’s level of responsibility and increased involvement in sports as the most important reasons for getting their children contact lenses.

One concern that parents often have is the care involved and risk of problems such as eye infections. A brief discussion of the advantages and ease of use of daily disposable lenses will quell most parent concerns. If a two-week or monthly disposable lens is recommended for the patient, discuss how

Daily disposables such as Bausch + Lomb’s SofLens Daily Disposable will ease parents’ concerns of kids caring for contact lenses.

proper cleaning is easy to teach and easy for the doctor to evaluate if the eyes are having adverse side effects from lens use. Also mention to parents and children that wearing contacts is considered a privilege, and that if compliance is poor, they will have to go back to wearing eyeglasses.

Furthermore, doctors express concerns regarding the additional chair time required for fitting them. While there are some young patients who will have more challenges learning insertion and removal of lenses, we have all witnessed adults struggle with this too. Doctors may be mistakenly using the term “chair time” when they should really be thinking about profitability. It has been reported that a significantly higher percentage of contact lens patients return for examinations every year compared to spectacle wearers.

In addition, patients aged 8 to 18 show greater frequency of changes to their refractive error. It may be appropriate for practitioners to see these patients more often than annually. This additional office visit, which you can bill to patients or have in your global contact lens fitting fee, allows a doctor to evaluate the eyes and remind young patients of the importance of lens care.

And don’t forget that kids and teens in contact lenses also need to have a pair of glasses, which is another profit source for your practice. This conversation with parents is critical. There are times that their children need to give their eyes a break from contact lens wear and an up-to-date prescription is something that should not be overlooked.

Many parents of children who wear contact lenses recognize their children have increased self-esteem and confidence when wearing them instead of eyeglasses. Contact lenses are also more comfortable for sports and many other childhood activities. The risk of damaging eyeglasses is also eliminated when contacts are worn for sports instead of glasses. So should children be fitted with contact lenses? Absolutely, whenever they are ready for them.

Eric L. Bran, Professional Editor for Vision Care Product News, is in a private group practice at Ridgefield Family Eye Care and The Institute for Sports Vision in Ridgefield, CT.


Bausch + Lomb
800-828-9030 •
800-241-5999 •
CooperVision, Inc.
800-341-2020 •
VISTAKON, A Division of
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
800-843-2020 •


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