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Glasses or contacts for your teen?

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

“Mom, can I get contacts?”

Whether your child has been wearing glasses since Kindergarten or they’ve just been prescribed recently, you’ll likely come to a time (and likely in adolescence) when your child approaches you and asks, “Can I get contacts?” Whether you’ve thought about the glasses versus contacts issue for your child, now is the time to sort it out. The answers may not be so clear-cut.

inserting contact lenses

Why your child suddenly wants contacts may or may not be obvious. In the tumultuous adolescent years, fitting in is important to many kids -- and that may include moving from glasses to contacts. Even if he or she has been fine with glasses for years, and previously taken pride in choosing funky frames, one day the desire not to even have the risk of a comment about wearing glasses may be significant enough to ask for contacts.

Not just girls

The desire to go from glasses to contacts isn't just a girl thing -- boys have it, too. Boys, just like girls, are thinking about their looks -- and the looks they might get from others of the other gender. Eyewear is a part of that. It's not about being vain. Well, not necessarily. But it often is about fitting in.

Trying to convince you

If you child has a strong desire to move to contacts, he may take out every tactic in his arsenal to convince you. Adolescents have been known to sabotage their eyeglasses in an effort to convince parents of the need for contacts. The persistence can be amusing or annoying, and only you can decide if it's going to pay off.

Ease

There are elements of ease to both glasses and contacts. It's so easy to put on glasses from the bedside table in the morning, but it's also easy to lose glasses in some situations. A pair of glasses getting knocked off a face and say, into a body of water, is a more than a minor hassle. If your child has a tendency to lose glasses, contacts may be more cost-effective.

Sports

If your child plays sports, regular glasses can get in the way. Prescription sports goggles are available, but they also tend to be pricey. And if we're being totally honest? They look a little goofy. Your child may beg and offer up unrealistic bargaining chips to not have to wear them -- even if they understand the safety need. Remember that looking good for the opposite gender thing? Yeah.

Responsibility

The ease and utility factors are certainly part of your decision-making in regards to glasses versus contacts for your child. You also need to determine if your child is responsible enough to take on contacts. While there are daily disposable options, the right lens for your child may be a standard soft contact that needs regular cleaning and care -- and eye hygiene needs to be top-notch. Is your child ready for this?

Cost

One of the final determinations regarding contacts versus glasses is often cost. Once your optician or ophthamologist has determined an appropriate lens for your child, you must pay for it. While some lens manufacturers offer rebates, others don't, and you have to determine if the cost of contacts is in your budget. Don't forget any contact supplies like wetting solutions and cleaners. Also remember that even though a child has contact lenses, he still needs a pair of glasses for when he is not wearing the contacts.

You may find it appropriate to have your child contribute to the cost of contact lenses and supplies. That's a great way to drive home the cost and encourage appropriate responsibility for the lenses.

If -- no, when -- your vision-challenged child comes to you to ask for contact lenses, you may or may not have an immediate answer. While it's a no-brainer for some, there are issues to consider for others.

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