16 answers

8 Year Old Wearing a Contact Lens

I have an eight year old boy (almost 9) who wears a contact lens in one eye. Glasses are not an option. He also has an eye patch he wears at home for about an hour a day to help strengthen the weak eye. One of the reasons his vision problem is so severe is that he had/has a severe fear of doctors and doggedly refused to cooperate with an eye exam for 2 years regardless of bribes, logic, consequences. Initially he seemed to be able to put in the lens easily on his own. Aside from his stubbornness, he is a an unusually responsible 8 year old. Now he has been using a contact for about 5 months, and goes through phases when he can put it in easily, or when he has a terrible time with it. He yells "NOOooo!" (very loudly) and bangs on the table sometimes or waves his fists in the air. He gets angry and frustrated and sometimes ends up sobbing quietly, if it keeps falling out ("flipping" as he says). However, he is very persistent, and usually will not ask for help and sometimes won't even accept it when offered. This can go on for a long time. The fact that he is able to do it on the first or second try sometimes, makes me think it is a self fulfilling prophecy---that he can't do it when he doesn't believe he can, or when he is stressed. He's pretty good about the patch wearing, even though he hates it because he can barely see when wearing it. The contacts are 2 week disposables, so he puts it in and out each day but gets a new one in 2 weeks. I am also wondering if the difficulty may relate to the age of the contact lens---if new ones may work better than older ones. We sympathize with his frustration and we want to help him. I would appreciate thoughts from parents with contact wearing children, or from anyone with personal experience/tips about contacts.

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So What Happened?™

Thanks to all who responded. Many people said similar things. In any case, I told my son about what people wrote and it made him feel better (especially knowing others have the same trouble). Re: his lack of glasses: I don't know all the details of why he can't wear them...he has special custom order lenses. The doc said it would be impossible to make glasses for him.
He's been wearing the lens for about a year now. It's getting easier for him.

Featured Answers

In fact, you may be on the right track, but backwards. I also wear the two-week disposable lenses. New ones seem to be more flexible & somewhat harder to deal with than older lenses. Add to that the fact that they sometimes seem to be packaged inside out, and even I can get frustrated with inserting new lenses--& I'm 37, not 8! And I've worn contacts since I was 14, so it's not a newbie thing.

I started wearing glasses when I was 5, contacts by 6th grade, and went through hard lenses, gas-permeable, soft, and am now in disposables. Even now I have days where the contacts just don't want to go in, and I get frustrated (and I'm 40!). If he is having frustrating days, the best advice I have is to start the process over. Put the lens back in the case, moisten in, wash and dry hands again, and then start the process over. Also, the more frustrated he gets, the more that contact lens is not going to go in. I've had those days as well. Maybe just stepping away for a couple minutes, eat breakfast, and then try again. Even a couple minutes to redirect may be enough to calm down the frustration so that when he tries again, it will be successful.

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I wear contacts, and your son is right, some days they just aren't easy to put in and can make you very frustrated. He does need to make sure that they arent inside out first. If your finger is real wet with solution, the contact will want to stick to your finger rather than your eye. I use a little magnifying mirror to put mine in. You first hold the lens up to the mirror to be sure its not inside out, then pull down your bottom lid so you have plenty of room to place it your eyeball. Even tho I've been wearing them for 4 years, some mornings they just dont want to cooperate. I wear the 2 wk disposables as well, at about the end of the second week they seem to get a little more pliable and soft in the palm of your hand when cleaning, but once you get them open they should go on the eye just as easily as a new one. Look at his contact closely in the magnifying mirror, if they get a litte tear along the edge that can mess them up, it only takes a little bit to throw them off balance.
I applaude the fact that at 8 he can wear a contact at all, I think that is very cool. Kids tend to break their glasses really fast and are so cumbersome for them...
Tell him to be patient, some days are diamonds and some days are stones ;)

If I wear my contacts every day (even taking them out at night), my eyes sometimes start stinging and feeling scratchy. I don't know why glasses are not an option or if his vision is so bad he can't see, but it may help to take a day or two a week of wearing the lens. Also, you may want to ask the doctor to check the surface of his eye for surface blood vessels or scratches. These can occur if there is not enough oxygen to the eyes (or so my doc told me). It also helps, as another responder suggested, to make sure his finger is dry. I usually rinse my lens on the left hand and finger, then put down the bottle, dry my right pointer finger and transfer the lens, etc. I hope that you find a solution!

In fact, you may be on the right track, but backwards. I also wear the two-week disposable lenses. New ones seem to be more flexible & somewhat harder to deal with than older lenses. Add to that the fact that they sometimes seem to be packaged inside out, and even I can get frustrated with inserting new lenses--& I'm 37, not 8! And I've worn contacts since I was 14, so it's not a newbie thing.

If he continues to stuggle, especially if his eye doctor is a pediatric specialist see if the doctor or someone there will go through a few practice runs with him and offer a few tips. They will usually have a lot a patiemce and my little guys always take advice from a doctor or nurse better than from mom.

Late commer! I havent read any other responses, but if he has hard or gas permeable lenses, you might be able to find a suction cup tool that can help him put them in and out. I used to have one about 10 years ago. Not sure if they still make them.

My daughter is the same age as your son and she also wears a contact in one eye, she has been wearing it for 2 years.
She also has phases where hates putting the contact in. She complains because it takes time and she is 8 so she has lots of fun things she could be doing instead!!
I make sure she has a really strong magnifying mirror and a really bright light on in the bathroom. I have noticed that it gets more difficult for her when the lens is almost at 2 weeks old. I sometimes give her anew one earlier. Also I keep her nails trimmed, this seems to help.
I do think the age is a big factor, I am impressed that they can put them in so young, I thinks that leaving plenty of time for this task will help too, also to remind your son that there is no time limit on how long it should take. lots of praise needed as always with children, hope it gets easier for him.

Sometimes I have trouble and sometimes I don't. I can understand his frustration 100%! Especially when I am in a hurry...I get very frustrated VERY QUICKLY! Sometimes they go in perfectly on the first try and sometimes they don't. There have been times that they just won't stop falling out and getting lint or whatever on them and I just get too frustrated to keep trying, so I go without them for that day. (I wear my glasses instead) Honestly, I would just tell him to take a deep breath and relax before trying again. My opthamologist told me to take a deep breath in as I put it on my eye, look around with my eye only and then release the bottom lid as I blow out...then release the upper lid and blink. It helps a lot! I hope this helps. (If by chance he makes it a bigger deal than it is to get your "attention"...try telling him to relax and then just walk out of the room for a few minutes to let him figure it out on his own. Hopefully he will then solve his own problem without all the mellow drama.)

Good luck and take care!

My only advise it to make sure he knows how to tell if the contact is inside out or not. If you try to put a contact lens when it is inside out, it will hurt, move around the eye and eventually fall off. You can tell by hoding the contact on the tip of your finger and looking at it carefully before placing it in your eye. If it is inside out, the edges will not curve in as much as when it is facing the right way. I also wear 2 week disposables and I don't notice any difference if they are a day old or 1 1/2 weeks old.

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