"While more than half (56 percent) of parents of vision corrected children who do not wear contact lenses say that their child is interested in wearing contacts, nearly one-third of these parents (31%) say they have never considered contact lenses for their child, and another 27 percent say they have not given the matter serious consideration.
Parents of a child who currently wears glasses say that their child dislikes wearing glasses (42%), does not always wear them when he/she should (41%), and sometimes feels self-conscious when wearing them (40%). Half (50 percent) say that their child would rather be wearing contact lenses.
So, why are some parents reluctant to let their children wear contacts?
Four-in-ten (40 percent) parents responding to the survey say that they are not comfortable with contact lenses for children. Two contributing factors to parents’ unwillingness to consider contacts – 77 percent think that glasses are easier to keep clean and take care of than contacts and half (54 percent) are concerned about their child’s ability to take care of their contact lenses. Forty-two percent of respondents, however, say they have no real worries about their child wearing contacts.
“The growing body of research in children’s vision correction continues to demonstrate that contact lenses provide collateral benefits to children beyond simply correcting their vision, and that concerns about contact lens problems in these age groups are largely unfounded,” explains Mary Lou French, O.D., F.A.A.O., M.Ed. “Studies demonstrate that children who need refractive error correction are capable of wearing and caring for soft contact lenses and should be presented with the option of contact lens wear when vision correction is required,” says Dr. French, who has been taking care of children’s eyes for 32 years in her Illinois-based practice.
Two-thirds (66 percent) of survey respondents report that whatever their eye doctor recommends is the right choice for their child’s vision correction. However, a large majority of these parents (62 percent) believe that the choice for vision correction should correspond with what the child wants. “Doctors will typically evaluate a child’s maturity and level of parental support in deciding whether the child is ready for contact lenses,” adds Dr. French.
Among parents surveyed, the average starting age for contact lens wear is 13 years old. However, parents believe that girls are ready to start wearing contact lenses at an earlier age than boys. About one-in-five (18 percent) of survey respondents with female children who currently wear glasses say that their child is extremely interested in contacts, compared to only eight percent of respondents with male children. “Research shows that for girls, in particular, a switch from glasses to contact lenses, may result in improvement in self-perception,” says Dr. French.
More than half of parents surveyed (54 percent) agree that glasses and contact lenses complement each other for part time wear. Overall, 41 percent of parents believe that contact lenses are a good occasional alternative to glasses for certain activities, with 75 percent of respondents stating that contacts are a better choice than glasses for playing sports. One-fourth of respondents (24 percent) say that their child currently wears both glasses and contacts.
Other findings from the survey, which assessed attitudes and perceptions of parents as they relate to their children’s vision care options, included the following:
- Top areas in which survey respondents believe that vision correction provides improvement for their child include academic performance (78 percent), confidence (58 percent) and self-esteem (51 percent).
- The majority of parents surveyed (85%) say they are at least “somewhat satisfied’ with their child’s vision correction at school. However, only 63 percent are satisfied with their child’s current vision correction for sports.
- About nine in ten (88%) parents whose children wear contact lenses say that their child wears soft lenses. About half (48%) say that their child wears lenses that are worn daily and are replaced every one to two weeks. Another 40% say that their child wears lenses that are worn daily and replaced monthly. Additionally, 10% say their child wears single-use contact lenses that are worn once and then thrown away at the end of the day. Only 2% say their child wears hard/gas permeable contact lenses.
The survey was conducted by Fairfield Research among members of the Good Housekeeping Reader Advisory Panel on behalf of ACUVUE® Brand Contact Lenses. The purpose of the survey was to gauge the attitudes and perceptions of parents as they relate to their children’s vision care options among a nationally representative population of parents with vision-corrected kids ages 8-17. Survey responses are based on a pool of 564 responses from parents who have at least one child age 8-17 who requires vision correction."
ACUVUE® is a trademark of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
Dr. French is a paid consultant for VISTAKON®.