Position Paper on Children and Contact Lenses
For Optometrists and the Lay Public*
From the Section on Cornea and Contact Lenses of the American Academy of Optometry
Who are the children discussed in this paper?
This paper is intended for children of all ages who may benefit from contact lens wear and their
parents. Infants just a few months old who need vision correction may benefit from contact lens
wear as much as nearsighted teenage children.
What are the primary indications for contact lens wear in children?
An infant or toddler is typically fitted with contact lenses because he or she had cataracts
(clouding of the lens inside the eye) removed just after birth or because of an eye injury. Older
children are typically fitted with contact lenses because they are nearsighted (difficulty seeing far
away) or farsighted (difficulty seeing up close). Children may also wear contact lenses to mask
disfigured eyes, to patch an eye during vision therapy, or to change the color of the eyes.
What are gas permeable contact lenses?
Gas permeable contact lenses are typically smaller than the colored part of the eye (the iris).
They are flexible, but they do not fold in half. Gas permeable contact lenses can be removed and
cleaned daily, or they may be worn continuously for up to 30 days and nights. These are
sometimes referred to as “rigid gas permeable lenses.”
What are soft contact lenses?
Soft contact lenses are bigger than the iris. They are extremely flexible, and they can be folded in
half. Soft contact lenses can be worn continuously for up to 30 days and nights, may be removed
and cleaned daily then disposed every two weeks to three months, may be removed and cleaned
daily and maintained for approximately one year, or they may be removed and disposed daily,
depending on the specific soft contact lens prescribed.
What type of contact lenses correct refractive error?
Refractive error results when the optics of the eye does not properly focus light on the retina (the
seeing part in