A New Study Says Contact Lenses Account for More Pediatric Injuries Than Any Other Medical Device.  Find Out How To Help Your Kids Benefit from Contact Lenses without the Injury Risks.

In late July, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report that found over a two year period, emergencyImage of Boy Inserting Contact Lenses rooms treated more than 33,000 injuries due to contact lenses — making the eye the most frequently injured body part among children due to medical device complications.

When we saw the report and the headlines, we weren’t entirely surprised.  Children are one of the fastest growing segments of new contact lens wearers, representing more than 10% of the total population of contact lens wearers.  The growing popularity of contacts among children makes sense: Today’s new breed of soft contact lenses are more comfortable than ever and contacts are often an attractive alternative to glasses, especially for active children, ‘tweens and teens.

On the other hand, as the report from The American Academy of Pediatric’s demonstrates, contact lenses and children can also be a recipe for injury, and possibly permanent eye damage or vision loss, if parents aren’t monitoring and supervising the wear, care and replacement of lenses in their children.

According to the data, the most-frequently reported injury diagnoses due to contact lenses were corneal contusions/abrasions, conjunctivitis and hemorrhage.  The study also showed that most contact lens complications were the result of non-compliance with the  recommended wear and care regimens, as well as replacement schedules.

Misuse of contact lenses in both adults and children can lead to problems such as eye pain, bacterial infections, corneal ulcers, and even permanent vision loss or blindness.

Are Contacts and Kids a Good Mix?

Why so many problems?

Much of it has to do with patients forgetting (or not knowing) that contact lenses are categorized by the Food and Drug Administration as medical devices.  This includes “plano” or non-correcting “cosmetic” contact lenses as well.  In other words, because of the potential for eye injury and infection posed by non-compliant contact lens use, it’s illegal to purchase any type of contact lenses without a prescription from a licensed eye care professional.

While contacts are a safe alternative to glasses for most children, the report reinforces that contact lenses do require extra attention from both the parents and the child.  While a parent should play a role in reinforcing proper care and wear of contacts, it’s ultimately up to the child to understand how to take care of their contacts, the need for regular cleaning and disinfecting, and any special instructions from their eye doctor around wear and replacement schedules. If the child is not mature enough to be responsible for the day-to-day care and maintenance of the contact lenses, then they should stick to glasses until that changes.

Tips for Helping Your Children Successfully Wear Contacts Without Complications

There are some simple tips to share with your child if they are a contact lens wearer (they apply to adults as well) that can help ensure that your child is able to successfully wear contacts without putting their vision at risk:

  1. Wear the contact lenses as prescribed. Your child’s eye doctor will recommend a wearing schedule specific to the type of contact lens you prescribed. Only wear the contact lenses for the time recommended.
  2. See your eye doctor annually to check your child’s contact lens prescription, and be sure they attend all follow-up eye exams.
  3. Always wash hands with warm water and soap before handling contact lenses or before touching the eyes. Residue from lotions, soaps, or chemicals may stick to the contact lens, causing pain, irritation, or blurred vision.  Dry hands with a clean towel.
  4. Clean and store contact lenses as prescribed (in a clean case in fresh solution). Different types of contact lenses require special care and certain types of products. Always use the eye care products recommended by your child’s eye doctor. Some eye products or eye drops are not safe for contact lens wearers. If you’re not sure, contact your eye doctor.
  5. Clean the contact lens case after each use with either sterile solution or hot tap water and let air dry.
  6. Never use plain water directly on contact lenses, and never put contact lenses in the mouth to “rinse” them. Microorganisms can live in even distilled water, causing infection or sight damage.
  7. Clean contact lens by rubbing it gently with the index finger in the palm of the hand.  Even newer “No Rub” solutions can be made more effective with some gentle rubbing.
  8. If your child develops an eye infection (signs include redness, burning, or excessive tearing), remove their contact lenses and discontinue use until you talk with the eye doctor. Wearing a contaminated pair of contact lenses will invite the infection to remain. After resuming contact lens use, closely follow your doctor’s instructions to help prevent future eye infections.
  9. Never wear another person’s contact lenses, especially if they have been worn before. Using other people’s contact lenses can spread any infection or particles from their eyes to yours.
  10. Wearing contact lenses may cause the eyes to become more sensitive to sunlight. Wear sunglasses with total UV protection and/or a wide brim hat when in the sun.
  11. To keep the eyes lubricated, use a rewetting solution or plain saline solution.
  12. Do not sleep with contact lenses in the eyes unless your child is prescribed “Extended Wear” contacts. Even then, follow your eye doctor’s recommendations around wear schedules. In some cases, your child’s eye doctor may want him or her to remove even extended wear contacts while sleeping.
  13. If your child accidently falls asleep with his or her contact lenses in, be sure they put eye drops in their eyes and wait a few minutes before trying to remove the contact lenses.  Removing contacts immediately after waking (when the eyes are dry) can cause abrasion and injury to the eye.
  14. Visit the eye doctor immediately if your child experiences any sudden vision loss, persistent blurred vision, light flashes, eye pain, infection, swelling, unusual redness, or irritation.
  15. Don’t let the tip of solution bottles touch other surfaces, including fingers, eyes, or contact lenses. The solution can become contaminated.

Please Note: The content of this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.  And remember, never disregard individual professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Internet! – Dr. Michelle

Category : Children's Vision Care / Vision Care / Vision Care Tips & Tricks

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