Friday, September 25, 2009

Parents And Children. Do They See Eye To Eye?

I remember my mom taking me to the eye doctor when I was in high school. She took my little brother at the same time. We never made regular eye doctor appointments growing up, mostly because my mom thought we could see just fine. One day my brother was out with my dad. My dad was trying to point something out to my brother and he never saw it. Appointments were made and it was discovered that we both needed corrective lenses. When we sat down and picked out glasses, and I was given the choice of taking home contacts. My brother wasn't. His vision was terrible and his glasses were a bit thick. My mom was sure that contacts would not be a good option because he would need to care for them and his eyes on a daily basis. He was also seven years younger than me. Most parents assume that younger children either are not capable or responsible enough. One look at my brother was all it took to see the disappointment. I think that some children are so self conscious, they would do just about anything for a pair of contacts. Glasses are a drastic change and they alter your outward appearance. If you are already a little uncomfortable in your own skin, throw in a pair of glasses and see what it can do. My brother had changed schools and now he was trying to fit in. It did not take long before he convinced my mom to order contacts. Did he take care of them? Yes. There were a few times that he would sleep in them and his eyes would become irritated, but hasn't that happened to most wearers at some point in their contact lenses wearing life? He learned, just like the rest of us. If you trust your child to brush their teeth, I think you can trust a child with contacts. But that's my opinion. It's all about teaching your children proper care and storage, hand washing and sanitation. When your children ask for contacts, you might want to reconsider. Most doctors give out trial pairs and they can be helpful. It will give you the opportunity to see if your child is willing to take on the responsibility. I am not against glasses, I am wearing a pair as we speak. Some kids don't mind wearing glasses. Some do. Talk to your children and make the choice together.

Some Statistics:

"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®.

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