Afraid to Wear Contact Lenses

The eye conditons that lead to a need for prescription lenses are hereditary; if you wear glasses or contacts, there’s a very good chance that your child will need to as well. While eyeglasses are not a bad option to correct sight problems, contact lenses are less obvious when worn and serve a cosmetic purpose. Contact lenses are also safer for people who play contact sports, and for those who engage in activities requiring an accurate side vision.

But What if Your Child is Afraid to Use Contacts?
As mentioned, eyeglasses work for most sight correction purposes. There are also those who think that eyeglasses are more practical; less effort to clean and maintain. However, some children and teens hate the idea of wearing glasses. Many kids feel they look more attractive wearing their “natural face,” un-bespeckled! When a child absolutely refuses to wear his or her glasses, the only alternative is contact lenses. However, some glass-hating children are fearful of using contact lenses.

Here are some tips for helping those with fears:

Encourage Patience
Contact lenses may feel strange for first-time users, even if they fit very well. Help your child to understand the concept of an adjustment period. Explain that putting the lenses in the eye for even a few minutes at a time will help the eye adjust slowly over some days.

Ask the Optometrist for Help
Your child may be afraid of scratching his or her eye. The eye doctor or optometrist can provide a contact lense tutorial. Internet resources can also be very helpful. Often, you or your child will know someone who has been successfully wearing contact lenses for years – ask that person for guidance as well! It is true, after all, that learning to put contact lenses on and taking them out can be tricky.  But there is a way of setting up the lenses so that one’s fingers would not even touch the eyeballs. A traditional method is to let the lens sit like a cup in one’s palm first, and then use the pad of the inserting finger to lift the lens by the “bottom of the cup” to one’s eye. If done properly, eye scratches will not be an issue. Keeping one’s fingernails short will also help.

Address Your Child’s Fears
Your child may be afraid that his or her eyes will dry out, and the lens will stick to the eye. Ouch! But that is an unreasonable worry. Our eyes are naturally wet, and capable of producing enough liquid to ward off irritation. However, saline solution is also available to wet the eyes in case they become irritated. As long as instructions on cleaning and wearing contact lenses are followed accurately, and the correct eye care solutions are used, having a contact lens stick to one’s eye should not be a concern.

Address the Practical Issues of Caring for Contacts
Your child might be afraid of losing contact lenses. Contact lenses may feel so fragile that it seems they can be blown off by the slightest rush of air. But only extreme situations, such a blow to the head or hurricane strength winds can knock a pair off. Wearing contact lenses past their expiration date can also loosen them. So if you buy a good brand, and you follow instructions for use, your pair will stay in place despite much stress.

Provide Pictures of the Eye and its Structure
Your child may be afraid that his or her pair will roll to the back of the eye. Loosing one’s contact lens to back of the eye is physically impossible; a thin membrane on the top of our eyes serves as barrier. While a lens may indeed roll underneath the eye lids, they can’t travel all the way to the back of one’s eye.

Teach Your Child How to Use and Care for Contact Lenses
The keys to a good contact lens experience is really buying good quality lenses, and following instructions as to how to properly wear and care for a pair. Problems often associated with contact lenses can be traced to the tendency to buy cheap brands that tear easily, not washing one’s hand before set-up, not using the right solution for cleaning and maintenance (tap water is not recommended!), and not disposing of expired lenses. As long as you and your child are conscientious about these things, there should be nothing to worry about.

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