Envision Optical has fit contact lenses to children and teenagers on the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads for many years with great success. We fit the lenses for general wear, sport, for eye conditions like keratoconus, or for orthokeratology vision correction therapy. Contact lenses are also the mainstay of our myopia control programs for children to help slow down or stop their eyes getting worse each year. Given that some risks of infection exist with lenses, we have always taken the utmost care in monitoring our young patients to ensure safe, effective lens wear.
We were pleased to see a recent study published that confirms that available evidence suggests that soft contact lenses can be safely prescribed to children and adolescents, with no increase in adverse effects compared to adults, according to a review in the June issue of Optometry and Vision Science.
The risk of safety problems from soft contact lens wear may even be lower in younger children compared to teens—possibly reflecting a lower rate of behaviors associated with increased risk for complications, suggests the report by Mark A. Bullimore, MCOptom, PhD, FAAO, of University of Houston College of Optometry.
“In the past decade, there has been increasing interest in fitting children with contact lenses,” Dr. Bullimore writes. Recent studies have shown that multifocal contact lenses can prevent or slow progression of nearsightedness (myopia) in children. Contact lenses can also improve self-esteem and quality of life in children and teens.
Dr. Bullimore performed a comprehensive research review to identify previous studies on the safety of soft contact lenses for children and adolescents. The analysis focused on signs of possible inflammation/infection called “corneal infiltrative events.” Although these events are usually mild, about five percent are a serious infection called microbial keratitis.
The highest-quality data came from nine prospective studies including 1,800 “patient-years” of soft contact lens wear in patients aged seven to 19 years. Analysis of the assembled data from nine prospective studies found a low rate of corneal infiltrative events: 136 events per 10,000 years. One large retrospective study suggested that the rate of these events was lower in younger children: 97 per 10,000 years in 8- to 12-year-old children, compared to 335 per 10,000 years in teens aged 13 to 17 years.
Microbial keratitis was uncommon, with no cases reported in the prospective studies. A retrospective study reported no cases of microbial keratitis in younger children. In teens, the rate of microbial keratitis was 15 cases per 10,000 years—similar to that reported in adults. The higher risk of complications in older patients seemed to be related to behavioral risk factors, such as showering and napping in soft contact lenses.
All soft contact lenses approved for daily and overnight wear have no age restrictions, suggesting that they are safe in both children and adults. The new review sought to take a closer look at the evidence supporting the use of these products in younger patients.
The available evidence provides reassurance as to the safety of soft contact lenses in children and teens. Dr. Bullimore writes, “The overall picture is that the incidence of corneal infiltrative events in children is no higher than in adults, and in the youngest age range…it may be markedly lower.” He adds, “Greater parental supervision may also help to mitigate risks.”
If your child has any vision problems please ensure they have a comprehensive vision examination which includes the option of contact lenses for vision correction. They are excellent option and very safe to wear as this study confirms.
Envision Optical is a local optometrist practice with 4 locations on the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads.