Glasses vs. Contacts
When your child needs glasses, you have concerns. You worry about kids teasing even though glasses, like colorful braces, have gained "cool" status on the playground. You might be wondering if contacts are an option.

There's a big dose of whimsy in today's youthful eyewear. Frames choices run the gamut of glow-in-the-dark Sponge Bob to Barbie's fashion fun to Harry Potter>'s popular spectacles. For kids who want to be like their favorite adult, there are reinforced plastic and even titanium frames. Whether fun, fashion or function is guiding your selection, be sure to consider safety in your child's corrective lens.

-- Kids playing sports or accident-prone rug rats should wear polycarbonate lenses. Made of what is sometimes called "bullet proof glass," these lenses are up to 10 times more impact resistant than regular plastic lenses. Lighter than traditional plastic eyeglass lenses, polycarbonates also deliver 100 percent ultraviolet (UV) protection.

-- Eyeglass frames for active kids should also be sturdy. Even if the lens won't shatter, crushed frames are a hazard.

-- Parents maybe be surprised to learn that contacts aren't just for grown ups. Even babies have been fitted with them. A study of nearsighted children ages 8 to 11 found that 90 percent had no trouble applying or removing one-day disposable contact lenses without assistance from their parents.* How well your child accepts responsibilities is a good predictor of how well they might handle contacts. If they do their homework and chores without a lot of nagging, they probably can handle contacts. If they are lucky to come home from school with both their shoes, maybe not. Children seem to adapt physically well to wearing the lenses. Because they follow instructions better than adults, they have fewer problems such as over wearing or not using proper contact lens solutions.

-- A child's sports performance may improve with contacts because they provide better peripheral vision than eye glasses. Many contact lenses, especially gas permeable (GP) lenses, offer better optics than eyeglasses. Better optics equal better vision. Some studies have shown that GP lenses can slow the progression of myopia, known as nearsightedness. This is effect is not seen with glasses or soft contact lenses.

-- Whether you choose glasses, contacts or a combo of both, be certain your child receives a comprehensive eye exam, not just an eye chart evaluation. He or she will "see" the best results.

*"Daily disposable contact lens wear in myopic children." Optometry and Vision Science. Vol. 81, No. 4 (April 2004); pp. 255-259.