You may have an opportunity to put more children into contact lenses and protective eyewear, findings from The Vision Council’s VisionWatch 2014 Parent Child Vision Care Report suggest. The 3,367 parents surveyed reported an aggregate total of 5,768 children under the age of 18 living at home. Approximately 20.6 percent of those children regularly wear Rx eyeglasses while 4.7 percent wear Rx contact lenses (mostly older children over the age of 14), indicating that about one-fourth of all children wear some type of prescription eyewear. Other forms of vision correction are rarely used by children under the age of 18. Around 2.2 percent regularly use protective eyewear or sports goggles and about 2.3 percent regularly use plano (non-Rx) sunglasses. The majority of children under the age of 18 (73.4 percent) do not use any form of vision correction or protection.
We all should be fitting younger children in contact lenses. There are two studies about young children in contact lenses that you need to know about: the CLIP study and the ACHIEVE study.
The CLIP study (Contact Lenses In Pediatrics) looked at two age groups (Group 1: ages 8-12 and Group 2: ages 13-17) and concluded that there was little difference in contact lens wearing abilities between the two groups. The CLIP study included the PREP survey (Pediatric Refractive Error Profile), which is a quality of life tool to determine how a child perceives themselves. The survey showed children wearing contact lenses had improvement in the child’s self image with respect to appearance, increased confidence in sports participation, and overall satisfaction.
The ACHIEVE study (Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment) showed similar results to the CLIP study in that there were low occurrences of contact lens-related problems in children of ages 8-11. Similar to the CLIP study, the ACHIEVE study used a psychological tool (Self-Perception Profile for Children) and found improvement in the children wearing contact lenses in self perception of physical improvement, athletic abilities, scholastic competence and social acceptance.
The take-home message is that multiple research studies are finding that fitting younger children in contact lenses does not create more risk than fitting an older adolescent and that fitting children in contact lenses improves the child’s self perception in multiple areas. Fitting younger children in contact lenses is something we all should be doing.
Your action plan for this week is to create a plan for fitting younger children in contact lenses.