Should 8-Year Olds Wear Contacts?

The WSJ Health blog reports that Johnson & Johnson’s Vistakon division thinks the best way to increase sales is to decrease the age, from 15 to 8, as the time kids should start wearing contacts. A J&J sponsored study says it’s safe, and that kids can better enjoy sports and have improved self-esteem, but an ophthalmologist expressed concern that somewhere in between the frog-catching and BB guns (you’ll poke your eye out!) there’s a real risk of infection. What do you think?

(Photo: Getty)


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  1. Preyfar says:

    For the same reason 8 year olds should not have cell phones. They’re not responsible enough to have them, and the risk of not properly keeping them hydrated can risk eyesight further. Besides, if they put dirty or scratched contacts in their eyes due to their lack of proper care they’ll risk damaging their eyes further.

  2. I wore contact when I turned 15 wore them for a few years then gave up, because it was too much of a hassle to keep them clean and preventing infections. I doubt the average 8 year old will follow all the steps or understand the consequences of not doing so.

    I vaguely remember being 8, from what I remember it would be a very bad idea to allow them contacts. 13 would be a better age

  3. snoop-blog says:

    Contact lenses could scratch the eye, or potentially do further damage to someones ability to see. I don’t think a child should be wearing contacts, but that’s from someone who thinks no one should be wearing contacts. I personally think the risks are greater than doctors want you to believe. Like any medical profession, they get kickbacks on things they push. When I use to wear contacts, my prescription changed often, and I took very good care of them. I switched to glasses 8 years ago, and have had the same prescription ever since. Can I prove it was the contacts? no, but why risk it? over looks? personally I love to wear glasses now that I know about I own about 10-12 pairs and match them to my outfit. It’s become a fashion accessory so even if your worried about looks it can be an advantage. There are people who wear glasses just because they like the way they look. anyway, yeah….

  4. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    I started wearing contacts at age 11, and that was in 1994. I was damn glad I did, too, as I got teased and picked on a hell of a lot for wearing glasses. I followed all the cleaning instructions (back then, you had separate saline, daily cleaner and weekly cleaner, not the one-bottle stuff we have today), and I have never in my life (I’m 24 now) had an eye infection.

    The worst I ever did was go swimming with them in and lost them, but that was because I had just got them and forgot!

    I think this is an issue of parental decision, as some kids are more responsible than others. I wore contacts at 11, and I could have and would have at 8 if we had the money. But if my 14 year old sister needed them, she’d have to have glasses as she’s just to careless to take care of them.

    This gets the same response from me as almost all age limit debates: different strokes for different folks. That’s why 8 year olds are supposed to have parents, to make decisions like this on an individual case-by-case basis.

  5. Jones91 says:

    Kids are just going to hurt themselves if they get contacts, i’ve just about done myself in a couple of times by being lazy, so how do you think an 8 yr old would handle it?

  6. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @snoop-blog: “I personally think the risks are greater than doctors want you to believe.”

    I took a lot of punches when I was a kid wearing glasses. Since I have never in 13 years had a problem with my contacts, I’d have to say the risk of injury due to physical assault far outweighs any risks my contacts may carry.

    Kids can be mean, especially in groups with peer pressure, and the dorky kid with glasses always gets picked on.

  7. visionep says:

    They should be able to get LASIK or other vision correctibg procedures though. So they don’t have to look like a dork.

  8. Mills says:

    I’ve worn gas permeable contacts since second grade, so since I was 7. I wore bifocals in kindergarten, and was getting a new prescription every four-six months. My eye doctor and my parents put me through my paces. I’ve lost or broken four contacts since then-in 14 years, and I’ve never had a contact-related eye infection.

    Granted, for the first year my dad (who’s never worn contacts in his life) stood over me when I took them out and put them in, making sure I washed my hands.

    I’m really wary of marketing them to that age group though. At that age, someone has to be involved making sure kids wash their hands, use the right amount of solution, don’t leave them in too long, and don’t mix them up (that might not be a problem with soft lenses, I don’t know). I would’ve developed horrible habits if left on my own.

  9. snoop-blog says:

    @aaron8301: you can’t be serious? I was the shortest kid in my school and I wore glasses. I have never been “beat up” or made fun of for them. Where do you live? 1950?

  10. snoop-blog says:

    @snoop-blog: glasses =/= dorky. maybe star wars=dorky, but not the frames they sell today.

  11. Triterion says:

    The biggest problem I think is that the kid’s eyes will become even more dependent on the contacts and mess up their eyes even more over a longer period of time. It’s known that contacts damage your eyes more then regular glasses. Thats why before getting LASIK, you’re not allowed to wear them until your eyes can heal again.

  12. RandomHookup says:

    This is absolutely targeted to the parents who decide their 7 year old son should have an earring.

  13. snoop-blog says:

    hell every major name brand/designer out there sells frames now so you can get the gucci, or louis, or boss, or whatever and be cooler than your non-glasses wearing friends. When I was in school (I’m 25) you could dress like a fool so long as you were wearing name brand clothes. the same applies to glasses.

  14. pixiegirl1 says:

    To some it can seem like the upkeep could be overwhelming for a 8 year old to do I disagree, how is it any different than when they learn how to brush their teeth, take a shower or any other grooming habit they learned over the years? I’ve worn contacts on and off since I was 12-13years old (I’m 26) I usually go back to wearing glasses mostly because of my allergies tend to make my eyes dry and itchy. I guess I have more issues with the fact that our 8 year olds have such great self esteem issues and instead of dealing with them parents rather buy them something they think will make the self esteem issues go away. JMO

  15. jimv2000 says:

    Maybe we should figure out why people as young as 8 need corrective lenses? Doesn’t seem quite right..

  16. snoop-blog says:

    anyone remember jnco’s? they looked like you were wearing a jean dress on each leg, but damn they were in style… for a minute. In my day there was even a chord fad where everyone wore corduroys (I know I spelled that wrong but they are so out of style, why bother lookin up the real spelling).

  17. sporks says:

    Got contacts at 12, stopped wearing them regularly by 15 due to allergies. I was responsible and knew when my eyes were getting tired and needed to breathe, but I sure know that 75% of 12 year olds probably aren’t responsible enough to do it right every time without a parent making sure they do it right. And 8 year olds? Christ.

  18. Deivion says:

    @jimv2000: Some are born with eye problems in which they need corrective lenses.

    Glasses are perfectly fine, its not like we are still in the era where glasses are thick as window glass. Or the imagine they project make you feel that way.

  19. snoop-blog says:

    @pixiegirl1: Exactly! If your kid is being made fun of for wearing glasses, it’s somehow the kid with the impared vision who is wrong and not the kids making fun of them. I don’t get it.

  20. kariokie says:

    There is at least some evidence that “kids pick on four-eyed kids” is more myth/aberrant individual experience than reality.

    Parents do exist for a reason and while I still wouldn’t trust myself with contacts, there are eight year olds up to the task. However, just the idea of the messages that will be used to market contacts to kids makes me go “ick”. Jeez, at least go pick on the pre-teens with the “change how you look” messaging. (I know, I know. Too late.)

  21. acasto says:

    I’m surprised at the misconceptions and hatred of contacts here.

    @Triterion: It’s known that contacts damage your eyes more than regular glasses? First, can you point to something documenting this? Sure it can increase risks,but directly damage them? Second, to say “more than regular glasses” seems to imply that glasses in some way damage the eyes also? What in the world are you talking about?

    About having contacts out for a period before getting LASIK, as far a I know that mainly applies to gas permeable, or what many call “hard” contacts. It’s not that they damage the eye, but rather when worn over time can temporarily affect the shape of the cornea. They need to be left out so that the cornea can go back to its normal shape so they can do the procedure correctly.

  22. facted says:

    Just wondering: why is this on consumerist? And why does it matter if what we think about 8 year olds wearing contacts? Shouldn’t it come down to whether it’s safe or not?

  23. Mills says:

    @snoop-blog: I wore bifocals, in kindergarten, and wasn’t ever teased about them in elementary school.

    Middle school girls, however, will tease you about anything. Waiting until a kid is 12 or 13 to let them get contacts will give them an nice self-esteem boost just as their peers become truly vicious.

  24. Pink Puppet says:

    @jimv2000: I’m confused. Are wondering about the various factors that contribute to needing vision correction? Or… what? Can you clarify a little?

  25. snoop-blog says:

    @facted: No, it’s apparently about an 8 year old being teased at school. Just hope he ALWAYS has those contacts. Otherwise you’ll have to move and change school districts because by the time they start dating, he’ll be the biggest loser. I know from my experience (I’m 25) that my life was ruined by those who teased me for being short, wearing glasses, wearing wal-mart clothes etc. In fact my wife is really a middle aged fat man vs. the smoking hot shortie I tell everyone about.

    Seriously. Is there a legitimate argument for as to why and 8 year old should wear glasses? Does it all boil down to being made fun of, because if so, buy him some karate lessons instead of contacts.

    A real argument would be that an 8 year old probably drops and scrathes/ brakes their $200 pair of glasses. I’ll buy that.

  26. Youthier says:

    @snoop-blog: Yeah but my mom was not buying an 11 year old Gucci glasses. I spent my whole year of age 10 pretending I could see so I didn’t have to wear glasses.

    I started contacts at 13 and never had a problem. 8 seems a little young but really, I think it depends on the child’s maturity. You do have to keep contacts clean and take proper care.

    @jimv2000: My pastor would say, “Because it’s a sinful world and people have not been perfect since the Garden of Eden.” But it’s not anything new…

  27. azntg says:

    Good job J&J Marketing! You missed a spot though!

  28. littlemoose says:

    I got gas-permeable contact lenses at age 11. For me, it was medical — my doctor thought that taking my glasses on and off to read at school was causing my bad headaches. The contacts solved that, and let me read without problems. So I can see how kids younger than 15 might want or need contacts. That said, I was a pretty responsible kid, so I could handle it — but I highly doubt I could have at age eight.

  29. snoop-blog says:

    @Mills: From what your saying though, sounds like if it wasn’t glasses, it would have been something else. And have you seen the teenaged girls frames these days? they are designer name brands that make them cool. Mainly it’s all about finding the right fit for your head/face.

  30. pixiegirl1 says:

    I remember Jnco’s you’d wear them with your Stussy tshirt. lol

  31. sam says:

    I got soft contact lenses at age 11, back in 1985. Of course, I had worn glasses since age 5 (pretty much as soon as I was required to read at a distance – blackboard!), so my eyedoctor took pity on me.

    That was in the days of weekly chemical cleanings, storage solutions, saline solutions – plus, the lenses were plenty expensive themselves – a lot of responsibility for an 11 year old. I’d think with the advent of all-in-one solutions, disposable lenses and the like, it would only be easier to teach younger kids how to wear them.

    (and my lazy ass thanks now the powers that be every day for inventing daily disposable lenses)

  32. snoop-blog says:

    @pixiegirl1: don’t forget mossimo, or the extremely offensive(lol) big johnson shirts.

  33. TimW077 says:

    My daughter is legally blind in one eye, but has (nearly) perfect vision in the other. With a contact, she sees normally, and can participate in anything she wants to.

    She’s been wearing a contact since she was 7. Six years later, and I can count on one hand the torn and lost contacts. Disposable contacts are cheaper than glasses, and unopened contacts can be returned for a full refund when the Rx changes.

    It wasn’t a matter of “self-esteem”, just the practical issue of dramatically different lenses.

  34. As a four-eyes since from ages 8-30 (thank you Lasik!), I say no. Most kids are diligent enough to take care of them properly, and I’m sure as hell not going to do it for them. There may be some kids who can manage the upkeep, but in general, it’s probably not a good idea.

    I got contacts at 13, mainly for ballet recitals and swim meets.

  35. rradiant says:

    When I was younger, my parents couldn’t figure out why I would creep up and sit a few feet from the TV, even after they yelled at me to move back. After I failed a basic eyesight test in 2nd grade (what E?) they decided I needed glasses. I played a lot of sports and glasses just didn’t fit in well with soccer, basketball, baseball and swimming. I started wearing contacts at 8 years old and have been wearing them ever since.

    I have to agree that I was mature for my age, and that most eight year olds wouldn’t have been able to deal with contacts.

  36. mikelotus says:

    @snoop-blog: right, 31 years of wearing contacts has messed up my eyes. Might as well go ahead and get it out. What other nonsense would you have us believe?

    @pixiegirl1: upkeep on daily disposable contact?

    @Triterion: excuse my french, but that is utter bull shit. the reason you can’t wear them before surgery is that even soft lenses mildly correct your vision and so you need time for your eyes to rebound to the same messed up shape. in the military before lasik, if they were suspicious you wore hard contacts and wanted to be a pilot, they would put you in a hospital over night to see if your vision regressed from not having the contacts in.

  37. superlayne says:

    Glasses on children are adorable. When I was younger I tried to ruin my eyes just so I COULD wear glasses.

    Maybe it’s just me, but this seems to be another case of “over sexualizing” little girls. Sure, it mentions kids in the broader term, but in most cases glasses are considered imperfections, like non-blond hair and most sizes above zero. Children, especially young girls, should have to “stick it out” with their glasses until their teens. By caving and giving younger kids contacts sooner, you’re admitting that looks are the more important than the safety risks (infections) or the price.

  38. Truthie says:

    I did not realize that the judgment of snarky Consumerist commenters was superior to the scientific judgment of the FDA.

    Of course I don’t know whether that says more about the ego of the commenters or of the public’s level of trust in the FDA.

  39. tedyc03 says:

    Isn’t it “you’ll shoot your eye out”?

  40. dumblonde says:

    @tedyc03: Yes it is.

    I’ve worn contacts since age 11 and like many others here that started wearing them at a young age, I’ve had very few problems besides the occasional eyelash. I do think 8 yrs old is way too young for a child to wear contacts and even at 11 I don’t think any child can wear them. You have to make sure they are mature and responsible enough to take care of their eyes and of course supervise while they learn. My mom supervised me at first and I’ve been wearing contacts for over 12 years without issue.

  41. Scuba Steve says:

    I’m getting contacts. Glasses make me look more dorky than I already am.

  42. PinkBox says:

    As much as I didn’t like wearing glasses when I was younger, I have to agree that eight is too young. A few more years of wearing glasses for their own safety won’t kill them.

    That said, although I loved contacts over glasses, they gave me so many problems, and constantly made my eyes ache.

    I got lasik as soon as I could, and am quite happy with the results. :)

  43. ageekymom says:

    My daughter was 11 months old when she started wearing glasses, and around 11 years old when she got contacts. I think she was intimidated by contacts and didn’t start wearing them regularly until she was about 13.
    According to her eye doctor, she needed to wait until she was over 22YO for Lasik.

  44. Berz says:

    I see no issue at all with this. i started contacts at 11 because i absolutely hated glasses. No regrets from that decision.

  45. ahwannabe says:

    When I was in elementary school, all the cool kids wore glasses. I am so not making this up. I went to nerd school.

  46. ninjatoddler says:

    Why don’t we just let them get boob surgery at 8.

  47. The_AntiVirus says:

    Not to insult anyones kids here or anything but nowadays, kids are acting dumber and dumber. I admit that I was one of those genius but compared to the idiotic things the kids I see do, it seemed as though I was a civilized kid. They are constantly doing dumb things here.

    How long is it going to be before kids do stupid stuff with the contacts? Eventually, they are going to change the age limit back to 15.

    You guys should see the idiots that think they are so smart. They range from, “No fair, you used cheat codes, I’m gonna report you.” (Online idiot kids) to “Hey, I bet I could stand in front of the train and hop off before it hits me.” I saw kids that were jumping and pushing each other in the path of oncoming trains.

    After seeing all that, I don’t trust little kids with anything. I don’t trust them with contacts. Just have them stick to regular eyeglasses.

  48. ChuckECheese says:

    I got soft contacts at age 14 in 1979. The eye doc was a bit concerned that I was too young (the recommended age then was 16), but he also understood that my lenses were thick, heavy, and very uncomfortable to wear. The lenses cost $450 a pair, and damage/loss insurance was another $50. I was a good enough doobie to keep them clean and disinfected using the boiling method. I’ve never had an infection or injury from contact lenses.

    J&J is looking for new markets since adults are increasingly getting eye surgery and disposables can cost less than $1 a pair, cutting into profits. 8 yrs old is too young unless it’s medically necessary (can’t obtain proper correction with glasses, for instance). A smart 10 to 12 year old could handle it with disposables and some supervision; otherwise I’d wait until the kidlet is about 12-14.

  49. witeowl says:

    I agree with many here. Why the big jump down to 8? There’s huge difference between 8 and 10, 10 and 12, 12 and 15. I think twelve or thirteen would be a better age.

    Really, if they want to play it safe (ha!), they’ll lower the age by one or two years every year. See how the medium-sized humans do with the responsibility before letting the little ones take it on.

    One good thing about lowering the age: I’m constantly frustrated by the number of children who try to go to school blind, refusing to wear their glasses. We’re “surprised” when they don’t learn. We can cajole, threaten, and nag them all we want, but we can’t get 12 and 13 year old children to do the right thing when it hurts their all-impotant image. Contacts might give some of those kids a fighting chance at education.

  50. Before everyone jumps on the “No” bandwagon, let me tell you why I voted “Yes”.

    In SOME cases, contacts are a better option that glasses. My son has nystagmus, which is involuntary eye movement back and forth. Contacts slow (damp) that movement – the slower the movement, the more light his eye can gather with its best vision, the better he sees.

    A friend of mine has a son born with congenital cataracts – he’s had lenses since he was 1 or so.

    Now, if little Sally is 20/40 and wants them for vanity, probably not. My kid’s eye doctor – a pediatric neuroophthomologist at Johns Hopkins – said his advice is when the kid is ready to take care of them, meaning take them out, put them in and clean as needed. When a kid can do that, he’ll fit lenses, not until, unless it’s something like the cataracts example I cited before. Then the parents get to have the fun of inserting and removing them for cleaning.

    So in some limited cases, contacts are actually preferred.

  51. Eh. I don’t have an opinion.

    I’ll add my story: I got glasses when I was 10 or so and begged for contacts as soon as I knew I needed glasses. I set up some sort of deal with my parents that if I wore my glasses diligently for 6 months or something, then I could get contacts (and I did). And, no, I don’t follow the recommended handling procedure. I think was actually better about that when I was younger than I am now.

    I don’t remember any teasing. Most people said they looked good. (I disagree and still consider my 4th-grade glasses hideous.) 8 does seem kind of young, but if I wanted contacts when I was 10, I probably would have wanted them when I was 8.

    But now, 14 years later, I’m all about glasses. They’re so much less work and classy ones are totally awesome.

  52. sarcastibitch says:

    I think 8 is (usually) too young for contacts. I got glasses at 10 and contacts at 13 after my vision declined and glasses were impractical for sports. I knew a girl who got them at 10 and that seems a bit early but it really depends on the kid. I know some who could possibly handle it at 10, but I can’t picture any of the 8-10 year old kids I know being able to take care of their lenses/not damage their eyes.

  53. ironchef says:

    anybody consider what happens if the kid loses his or her contact during the day when you are not around? Will he or she know better not to stick a dirty contact back in?

  54. dafountain says:

    I would have loved to have had contacts at an earlier age than I did. As far as, are 8 year olds responsible enough, well no, not left to themselves but that’s what parents are for isn’t it? They make you take a bath, they make you brush your teeth, so they can also make you clean your contacts.

  55. PattM says:

    My 8 year old daughter has worn contacts for almost a year. She plays club soccer and glasses are dangerous when the ball hits you in the face. We did talk to other families whose children wore RX sports goggles and the goggles fog up and can still hurt your face when hit by the ball or another player. Plus, they slip when you are sweaty. None of the families could really endorse goggles, but their child was hesitant about contacts.

    She has worn contacts for a year and has not had any difficulty inserting them into her eyes or keeping her hands or contacts clean. She gets minimal supervision from me or her dad and is responsible for taking care of them.

    My other daughter, 11, wears glasses also, but is not interested in wearing contacts. I think the wearing of contacts by children is up to the parents and the child. Contact wearing is not for everyone; I’ve worn contacts myself for 29 years and have never had an eye infection or other issue other than losing one.

  56. SpaceCat85 says:

    @jimv2000: I started wearing glasses out of necessity around age 7 for nearsightedness. Squinting at everything at a distance is not fun, especially when you spend a good chunk of the day reading a blackboard across the room ;)

  57. mikelotus says:

    what impresses me the most about this site is how many MDs and PhDs are out judging on medical opinion. Where did all you genius get your degrees at? Put the information in your profile so we can admire your genius.

  58. Coelacanth says:

    I made the switch to contacts when I was twelve or thirteen, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. No matter how many designer frames there are out there, it’s difficult to make lenses with very strong prescriptions fashionable.

    This is a decision to be made between the parents, their child, and their doctor. I’ve never once had an infection as a result of wearing contacts. I’m also not always the neatest person when it comes to lens care, although I’m still pretty good. The majority of the posters here who wore contacts from childhood (i.e. before 15) overwhelmingly agree that there’s little anecdotal risk.

    Of all the issues about vanity at a young age, I think arguing over contact use ranks very low on our list of problems…

  59. Bryan Price says:

    I voted no, although I think it might depend. Sports like football and baseball (I’ve had my glasses knocked off more than once playing both, and I’m not much good at either) might be OK.

    I’ve been wearing glasses since 1st grade, and there have been times when I wore those sports bands (as well as almost indestructible black nylon frames) and I wasn’t a jock, nor was I particularly active. Had I been wearing (soft) contacts at a younger age, a few glasses might have been saved. But as expensive as my glasses were back then ($150 40+ years ago!), I don’t think my parents would have gone for the added expense of contacts.

    I wear contacts most of the time now, but I still have glasses too.

    I’m just about ready to give it up and go for Lasik or do the new ICL (permanent contact between the cornea and the iris, which is also reversible, and also more expensive).

    That is if I’m not going towards cataracts…

  60. battra92 says:

    Absofrickinglutely Not!

    Heck, kids can barely take care of their clothes let alone something they stick in their eye.

  61. mammalpants says:

    call me old fashioned, but 8 year olds should only be doing what 8 year olds today do…create interactive presentations about mount rushmore and then upload that presentation to an educators grading website for evaluation and posting on their classroom blog for digging.

  62. synergy says:


  63. StitchPirate says:

    I started wearing contacts at 11, and it worked out fine. My doctor was very thorough, teaching me proper use and habits, and the consequences of improper use. Currently at 22, I do more dumb things with them than ever (sleeping with them in, not being vigilant about cleanliness, etc.) Maybe 11 year olds should be allowed, and 22 year olds shouldn’t. It’s more about maturity and responsibility than a number. If I couldn’t get contacts until later, my grades would have suffered greatly. (I couldn’t see the blackboard in school, and any style of glasses I ever wore hurt my face, so I wouldn’t wear them.) I was also very athletic and glasses wouldn’t work.

  64. 0x12is18 says:

    Who is in favor of making girls wait until 18 or maybe 21 to obtain birth control? Just as with any medical device / medication, it should be up to informed parents and not the government. This is a personal decision, and unless you want to spend billions and billions more in tax dollars policing people’s personal lives, it should be left alone.

  65. EtherealStrife says:

    Leave it up to the parents (and ophthalmologists) to decide. And then only if the kid understands and agrees to put up with the hassle of contacts.

    I just don’t see as well with glasses (something about the contact lens being closer to my eye). I certainly can’t see well enough to drive. Different people different results. Just because glasses work fine for you doesn’t mean everyone should have to take your route.

    If 8yos do go for contacts I’d recommend dailies. More expensive but it cuts out a great deal of the responsibility required.

  66. Jay Slatkin says:

    Nobody should be wearing 8-year-old contacts, duh!


  67. opsomath says:

    href=”#c6156115″>truthie: Where is the FDA in this? It’s a COMPANY SPONSORED study that says it’s a good idea. Unsurprisingly. I’d have been impressed if the study had concluded it’s a horrible idea.

  68. EBounding says:

    I would have loved contacts as a young kid and I’m pretty sure I could have handled putting them in. You’ll always have better vision with contacts since the lens is directly on your eye.

    Diabetic kids don’t seem to have a problem taking their insulin and testing their own sugar. Putting in contacts is really easy once you have the hang of it. But I’m not a doctor and I have no idea if having something in your eye all day while you’re still growing would have any adverse affects.

  69. dirk1965 says:

    I didn’t start wearing contacts until 13.

  70. Red_Eye says:

    Wonderful, when did J&J get purchased by the Lasik consortium? Thats the only end result I see coming from this, more people force into RK laser eye surgery due to GPC caused by wearing contacts for too long in their life.

    Wonderful Idea!

  71. dragonvpm says:

    Out of curiosity, I did about 2 minutes of googling and came up with Corneal Abrasions, Corneal Ulcers, and even some instances of infections related to contact lens solutions ([]).

    So, it looks like contact lenses CAN be dangerous, generally if used incorrectly, but sometimes even if used properly. I’m not saying that contacts are evil, but given how many people responded to this thread by saying “my doctor prescribed them for me at 7, 11, etc…” it seems obvious that they can be used, when medically necessary at ages less than 15. The question is, should the default age be 8?

    To me, that seems a bit too young (to make that the standard, on a case by case basis it’s fine), which makes me think that J&J is doing this largely to grow their customer base and possibly get kids locked in to their products at an early age. They’re doing it for financial reasons, not because it’s necessarily good medical practice. I don’t think that all kids under 15 can or should wear contacts, but I’m sure there are plenty who could. I’d like to see what any optometry related medical groups say about this, but my suspicion is that they probably won’t be thrilled.

    That being said, it seems interesting how many people came out in favor of “helping” kids with their self-esteem, when (a few weeks ago) there were so many people who seemed pretty ok when adults got hurt after getting LASIK because they were doing it for cosmetic reasons. Apparently teaching pre-teens to be vain and shallow about wearing or not wearing glasses is ok, but when those kids grow up and decide to get LASIK because they don’t like their glasses or their contacts then it’s too bad if they end up hurt.

  72. Angryrider says:

    I don’t think people SHOULD wear contacts, and I won’t wear them because I’m not shoving anything into my eye sockets. I like my glasses thank you. I can take them off whenever I want instead of going through a ritual.
    8 year olds? Not a chance.

  73. Jubilance22 says:

    I was an 8 year old with glasses and no way is an 8 year old responsible enough to take care of contacts. Most 8 year olds can’t keep up with their glasses. Not to mention, I know lots of adults who leave their contacts in way too long and get eye infections and whatnot.

  74. Raanne says:

    no, an 8 yr old should not be wearing contacts. on the other hand, 15 seems a little old – i got contacts at age 13. I think once a kid is in High School, they should be responsible enough to wear contacts…

  75. dripdrop says:


    You’re kidding, right? You don’t become a candidate for LASIK until your prescription stops changing. For me, that took at least a decade.

  76. captadam says:

    I think I was 13, too, when I got contacts … but I switched to glasses at 17 and continue to wear them at 27. I was hyper-sensitive about cleanliness; I used to carry eyedrops to school with me every day, I washed my hands before taking them out, I did the whole enzyme tablet thing, etc. (I hear that the cleaning regiment has changed quite a bit since then.) I didn’t realize that 15 was the recommended earliest age to wear them.

  77. MissPeacock says:

    I’m 28 and too scared to put contacts in my eyes (or anything else for that matter, like eye drops). I agree with Snoop-blog in that today, you can buy some really awesome pairs of glasses for kids and adults. I certainly wouldn’t push contacts on my child, but if they were of a reasonable age (and sorry, I think 8 is a bit young), I would be fine with them having contacts, but would not hesitate to take them away if they couldn’t handle them.

    I guess I’m mostly concerned with the idea of an 8 year old having such vanity issues that they feel the need to wear contacts. Maybe times have changed: when I was 8, I didn’t care what I looked like; I was too busy playing and being a kid. I started wearing glasses in the 6th grade, and I don’t remember anyone ever making fun of me either.

  78. Chigaimasmaro says:

    My opinion is that the decision to get contacts shouldn’t be based on ridding yourself of self-esteem issues. The contacts become a permanent crutch instead of just an alternative to glasses. It renews the psychological cycle of superficial ideal that a person “doesn’t” look good with glasses. If/when the crutch happens to not be there, that person will experience the same self-esteem issues they had before they put the contacts in.

    As for the dangers and the up-keep. There are dangers with almost EVERYTHING a child does and doesn’t do these days. It’s really depended not on age, but the maturity of the child. I’ve seen children at age 8 cook, iron clothing, do laundry, help parents fix cars, etc.. and on the other hand you have children at the same age tossing rocks at each others head to see exactly which rock is gonna make them become unconscious. If the individual child is responsible enough to keep to the procedures, then why not?

  79. FatLynn says:

    Like anything else, depends on the 8-year-old. I began wearing contacts around my 10th birthday, and have never had a problem. I simply don’t see as well in glasses; there are issues with peripheral vision, glare, and scratching. Also, if you wear glasses, you can’t wear sunglasses, goggles, SCUBA masks, or other assorted gear for special activities.

    I don’t think this is that different from a child getting her ears pierced (which I did around the same age) and having to clean and care for them. If the child really wants contacts, you tell her she has to be really responsible and take care of them, and then you stick by that threat.

  80. OPRAH says:

    What bothers me the most about this idea is the fact that contacts, supposedly, improve a child’s self-esteem. If a child finds “4 eyes” offensive, the parents have been pampering their child too long. Though I’m not saying there’s a define level of pampering. Children should not be insecure with a meaningless and barren statement, even if they are only a child. I was treated with “tough love” by my cousins. They teased me and I rarely teased back; they taught me to understand the manner of the teasing. I was able to laugh with them at my own expense and still feel good. As a kid, I knew glasses weren’t rare, and cliché stereotypes meant nothing to me. I know what it feels like to be insecure, and I’m sure everyone has too. See, I was born with one arm and that, among many other reasons, made me feel more insecure as I got older. Having one arm definitely separated me from my peers, and I have always been the only one. I find the acceptance and encouragement of family is the most important influence on a child’s development. Allowing a child to get contacts because parents can’t deal with their child’s self-esteem issues is not plausible enough for me.

  81. OPRAH says:

    BTW, I also flail my non-existent hand around ignorant people. It bothers them more that they can’t get as much of kick out of it as I can.

    Regardless, glasses and contacts both deteriorated my eyesight. I still can’t see after a few months; all the catching up I do for Giz.

  82. ironchef says:

    “Also, if you wear glasses, you can’t wear sunglasses, goggles, SCUBA masks, or other assorted gear for special activities.”

    Prescription Googles

    Prescription Scuba Masks

    Prescription Sunglasses

  83. MameDennis says:

    I started wearing RGPs at age ten.

    For me, it was much less about vanity, and much more about functioning normally. I had really bad eyesight, and lenses were still very thick back then. My glasses would fog up when I rode my bike or ran around the neighborhood with my friends. (CUE EASY JOKE ABOUT KIDS THESE DAYS AND THEIR WIIS.) I was always breaking my glasses.

    When I got my contacts, it was such a treat to have peripheral vision! My eyesight was much clearer overall in the RGPs, and it was completely worth being a little squicked out by messing with my eyeballs. (For the record, I don’t think I could have dealt with that part when I was eight.)

    Here’s the key thing–I was a very diligent kid. I understood the whole germ thing, and accepted that it applied to me. I was religiously devoted to proper cleaning and storage, and I would NEVER have popped a dirty lens back in my eye. (Also, my uncorrected eyesight was unusually awful… I don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea for a kid who has mild vision issues. If they can, say, go outside and play without glasses, I personally think they need to wait for contacts.)

    Eight might be too young for MOST children, but in cases where their vision is extremely bad AND their parents are committed to supervising them properly AND the kid is responsible, I don’t think it should be ruled out.

    But, yes, there are many speshul snowflakes who will ignore everything they were told about how to care for their contacts. Their parents will of course sue the eye doctor when little Abigail or Seth gets a raging infection.

  84. snoop-blog says:

    @mikelotus: Ummm. are you brain dead or just prefer to not read peoples entire comment. Because if you read mine, that you snarked back on, you would see I said that I couldn’t prove it was the contacts that damaged my eyes. Not to mention the fact the contact could damage my eyes, but not yours. It is possible…

  85. P_Smith says:

    If a parent is considering contact lenses for a kid, does that mean the contacts are a second pair of lenses, or the only pair for the kid?

    If the kid has no other lenses, then that’s irresponsible, never mind the issue of infection or the kid falling asleep with the lenses in. If a parent can only afford one pair of lenses, glasses should be the first choice.

    If the contacts are a second pair for sports, then why not get sports glasses instead, tight fitting wraparounds with a strap to keep them on? They’ll offer better eye protection and fit under a helmet. It’s a lie that you can only do that with contact lenses.

    Glasses do not have to be coke-bottle lenses like they were when I was a kid. I have always had the same prescription and my lenses now are 3mm thick versus 5-7mm lenses I wore twenty years ago.

    This isn’t about concern for the kids’ well being. This is the opthamological industry trying to overmedicate in the same way the pharmaceutical industry does.

  86. pandroid says:

    I had my first pair of contacts when I was 10.. taking care of them (putting them in, disinfecting them) was never an issue. Losing one while jumping on the bed, on the other hand… :D

    8 is probably a little young, but I feel as though most 10-12 year olds could probably handle it. My vision is/was very, very, bad (coke bottle glasses) and so contacts were much safer for me, from a playground/peripheral vision perspective.

    And since I’ve got years of practice, I can put in my contacts without a mirror, lol.

  87. itmustbeken says:

    Why shouldn’t an 8 year old wear them?
    Any kid that can get beyond the squeamishness of putting something in their eye everyday has my vote. I’m (cough cough) in my 40s and I got contacts last week. For me, they are fantastic AND I got over that squeamish feeling.

    It wouldn’t be hard to add contact hygiene to toothbrush time in the morning. A little parent coaching and the kid would be good to go. If they can’t keep it up, back to glasses. No big deal.

    This isn’t something unnecessary like plastic surgery, it’s contact lenses.

  88. IrisMR says:

    If they enjoy poking their eyes out, sure, go ahead. Kids are real tornadoes and I do see an advantage for them to have contacts instead of glasses. Less chances of breaking the thing.

    I’ll stick with my glasses.

  89. ianmac47 says:

    Those of you who voted no: Congratulations on having perfect vision. You obviously are clueless as to what its like to be in need of contacts / glasses.

  90. fizzyg says:

    I wore classes from around age 8 until I got contacts at 14. I think I’d be fine with something around 12, but the idea of 8 makes me feel a bit antsy.

  91. @ianmac47: Do you have “moron” tattooed on your forehead yet? Because if you don’t, I’ll pay for it.

    As a mother who’s had poor vision since I was a small child, I think I can safely say HELL no. One instance of putting a contact in after scratching your butt / petting the cat / playing in the swamp / picking the next-door neighbor-kid’s nose / etc. is all it takes to cause a serious infection.

    Now, all kids are different and some are very clean and responsible, so by and large, this decision should be up to (smart, attentive) parents and (unbiased, non-kickback-taking) doctors. If there’s a case where contacts are needed or vastly preferable to glasses, then, well, that’ll have to be taken into consideration.

    But should companies be allowed to market these for young kids? No and more no. When it comes to kids, marketing should be throttled down to what’s definitely good or obviously necessary, and encouraging kids and parents to go this route is just irresponsible.

    (FWIW, I don’t think young children should be encouraged to get piercings, either — my daughter was five when she got hers, after she showed that she could keep them clean and take care of them, but I know people who’ve pierced babies’ ears. Babies. Vomit- and poop-machines who couldn’t wash their hands if you paid them. ::shudder:: …to be fair though, I haven’t seen piercings advertised for young children, so that’s something.)

  92. Goldenthorn says:

    I’ve had glasses since I was 5 years old, and when I was 12, I got hard contacts. Prior to contacts, I had been wearing coke-bottle-thick bifocals. Contacts made me hate myself so very much less as a teenager (since I had major braces, as well). I was so ridiculously happy to be rid of glasses that I was OCD anal about keeping them clean. For years, I refused to be seen outside the house without my contacts. Now that I’m in my 20’s, I’m much lazier and irresponsible – I finally got my first eye infection a few months ago because of overwearing and undercleaning.

    If a kid can demonstrate responsible behavior with their chores and general hygiene routines, then contacts are completely fine. The problem is, I don’t think many 8 year olds are responsible enough. 10-11-12, yes, but not sooner. Maybe some exceptions, but in general, nope.

  93. lefty_redhead says:

    I started wearing soft contact lenses at age 10 in 1985. The reason was my glasses were so heavy I could barely hold my head up, and I had constant head and neck pain. I started missing school because I either could not see (20/400 by age 8) or was in too much pain.

    Wore contacts for 21 years (-9.50 and -10.25 by the end), then had Lasik in two stages. 20/15 now.

    Some kids can handle it, some can’t. Some 35-year-olds can’t handle contact lenses.

    Contacts for vanity at age 8, that’s a recipe for disaster.

  94. Raziya says:

    I remember getting harassed for having glasses (I’ve needed them since age 6~), but the real reason for me getting contacts was because I constantly BROKE my glasses and then I couldn’t see to drive/work/school. It’s much cheaper to replace a 20 dollar box of contacts than it is to replace a 400 dollar pair of glasses, and for someone who is such a klutz, even having to get the eye exam each year made up for the cost of constantly breaking my frames.

    As for the age…I tried getting contacts when I was 12 and I could not put them into my eye alone. Even when I did finally get them (at 19), I had a hard time taking them and in and getting them out. Now I have the contacts that I can leave in my eyes for a month without worrying about, so it’s pretty hassle-free. For a 23 year old. For an 8 year old? Not so much.

  95. Tankueray says:

    I was 9 when I first got contacts. I was responsible and my doctor had me use AoSept solution, which I still use 21 years later. AoSept is cool, it’s like enzyming them every night. Never had anything more than a stye. When I was about 7 I got hit in the face with a baseball wearing my glasses, the impact from the frame damaged my orbit and eye so bad I had to see an ophthalmologist that specialized in surgery for months and then every six months for 2 years. I’m leary about getting LASIK because I see just fine with my contacts and I don’t want anyone cutting on my eye. My mom just had the lens implant surgery and now she sees fine far away but has to do exercises to read up close, he said she’ll have to do them until she can see again. I don’t want to have to do that.

  96. Anitra says:

    I wouldn’t explicitly market them to kids, but I think there are plenty of younger kids who could benefit from wearing contacts… like a childhood friend who had to wear the super-dorky “sports” goggle style because he kept breaking his glasses.

    Personally, I’ve had glasses since I was 7, and got contacts when I was 22. I thought about getting contacts earlier, but I could barely be bothered to clean my glasses, so I figured I wouldn’t take very good care of contacts. Even now that I have them, I don’t wear the contacts often, since I’m STILL not responsible enough to make sure I don’t start rubbing my eyes after I’ve been staring at a computer screen for a while.

  97. Pithlit says:

    No way should an 8 year old be wearing contacts. And the argument that it makes sports safer is spurious. I wore glasses from the age of 6 and played plenty of sports, and even broke a few frames. The risk of infection is worse than the risk of injury from sports, particularly with how safe frames are made today. I can remember using that argument to try to talk my parents into contacts, and thankfully they were smart and didn’t buy it. I think a parent who lets their 8 year old wear contacts is out of their mind, unless there is a medical necessity.

  98. spaceferret says:

    First, the lasik issue is because they won’t do the surgery if your prescription is still changing. At 23, I STILL can’t be considered because my eyes are still getting worse. Not because I’m not old enough to take care of my eyes.

    Second, yes, it would require some parental involvement. I’m not saying ALL 8 year olds with vision problems should be given contacts. But with parental consent, it can be done. At age 4, I started getting cold sores on my eyelid. My parents were able to instill the importance of not scratching (despite unbearable itchiness) and properly applying the medicines.

    Third, yes, there ARE safety issues associated with glasses. Many people don’t have issues, but once a prescription is bad enough, only the ugliest frames would be thick enough to cover and protect the edge of the lenses. I still bear scars from the dozens of times my face was cut up because something hit me in the face and the edge of the lenses hit flesh. Even with the technology we have now, my lenses cannot be made thinner than 4 or 5 mm.

    And fourth, yes, they make sports glasses, but not everyone’s families can pay for those. I just spent a great deal of my childhood wandering around blind in situations where I couldn’t wear my glasses (as a swimmer, this was a lot).

  99. zyodei says:

    As someone who wore contacts when I was eight, who remember how they made my life a living hell, and still have highly sensetive eyes…I would say no.