Contact lenses, astigmatism, and teens

I have discovered that children do not turn into teenagers on their 13th birthday. No, they turn into teenagers when they start junior high school.

Flodjunior, who will turn 14 in February and is now in 8th grade, has begun taking more care about his appearance. This is a welcome development. Last night, however, he said he wants to investigate getting contact lenses.

I have two concerns about this. One, he’s only 13. A reasonably calm and mature 13, but nonetheless 13. I’m concerned that he won’t be consistent about keeping his lenses clean and maintained, and the consequences of dirty contact lenses are not pleasant. And two, the kid has astigmatism already. (Worse than me, and I’m 38 :eek: ) I know astigmatism is no longer an absolute hindrance to getting contact lenses, but I assume it would make the short-term/disposable contact lenses, the ones that would help adress problem #1, either impossible to find or very expensive.

Background: I wear glasses and have never worn contacts. My husband wears gas permeable lenses, has since his student days, and has been very happy with them.

Anyone got any advice, relevant personal experience, spontaneous undeserved abuse? Thanks!

I got my first pair of contacts (gas perms, with astigmatism) when I was 13 exactly, and I was a stupid, lazy, filthy, careless 13. Never lost a contact until I was 31, when a gust of wind came by at just the wrong time as my daughter shoved my sunglasses up the bridge of my nose. Sunglasses caught the edge of the contact and flipped it out, and the wind (I assume) took it. Nowhere to be found.

My husband, on the other hand, with his soft lenses (don’t know what kind specifically) is constantly losing, tearing, or replacing his 'cause they feel funny.

Point: gas perms.

I personally think gas perms are easier to insert and remove. I get queasy at the thought of touching my eyeball, and with gas perms, I don’t have to. Just bringing it near is enough to make it move itself that last mm via the surface tension of the wetting drops. To remove, I pull at the side of my eye (to be totally un-PC, I make “Chinee eyes” like when we were stupid racist kids) and blink, and out it pops into my palm. So no pinching off a soft squishy lens from the surface of my eyeball.

Point: gas perms

…however, this means that gas perms can sometimes get knocked out if he’s into contact sports. And they’re much more expensive to replace a single lens than soft lenses

Point: soft lens

…on the other hand, they never flip inside out or get folded on the eyeball

Point: gas perms

…but they do *occasionally *get knocked off the iris and slide around the eyeball and require either some prodding or a little teeny suction cup to remove so you can reinsert it. Ask your eye doctor to order you a little teeny suction cup - they don’t seem to sell them at drug stores anymore.

Anyhow, there’s more to contact choice than aesthetics or convenience. The first step is to take him to the doctor and see if he’s even a candidate for them. But my guess is that if it’s important enough for him to ask, he’ll probably decide to take care of them.

Astigmatism does not prevent contacts at alll. He needs what is called a Toric lens, which come in both long-tem and short-term kinds.

I had a Toric lens that lasted 2 1/2 years before. No problems for me.

By the way, I teach 7th grade and I’m shocked how many kids get contact lenses compared to when I was in 7th grade. I’m sure in the next few years, many “children” :slight_smile: will be getting Lasik.

I got contacts in high school, but not for cosmetic reasons. I was told by my opthamologist that they often slowed down or arrested the typical teen increasing myopia that required me to get new glasses frequently. They seemed to do exactly that.

However, that was with hard plastic lenses. I don’t know if the soft ones have the same effect, or if they even make hard ones anymore.

This is exactly why I was given gas permeable lenses, although I was secretly thrilled to get rid of my glasses and the accompanying “shrunken head” syndrome (and, in those days, dented nose even with “featherweight” lenses and bumpy temples from heavy plastic frames) caused by high prescription nearsighted glasses! For the anecdote file, it drastically slowed the worsening of my myopia as well.

As a teen, I managed to cut my conjunctiva with the edge of the gas-permeable contact while it was being a pain to get out. :eek: The next time I switched to contacts, I went with soft toric. I’ve switched back to glasses for the last decade plus; I just don’t care enough to deal with the contacts.

I have never worn contacts. Sure, I could get some, even with my really bad astigmatism, but I prefer my glasses. I don’t want to wear contacts in the lab, when I was a teen I was camping at least once a month, and quite frankly I look better with glasses. I’d suggest that he wears glasses for at least one more prescription and to be willing to spend some time (and money) finding a good looking pair of frames. It took me a while to find a pair of glasses that actually look good on me and the ones I was wearing at that age looked absolutely awful in retrospect.

They can’t, not unless the procedure changes. I looked into that when I was a teenager, and was told that since my vision was still changing (for the worse, of course!), it was better for me to wait until it had more or less stabilized, when I was an adult, before looking into getting it done.

One thing about contact lenses and teenagers… most of the people I know that got lenses as a kid (my siblings included), ended up using eyeglasses more and more as they aged and either their eyes got irritated, they got tired of the contacts, or who knows. Small “revenge” that I always wore glasses until I turned 21, and now all those that called me “four eyes” are “four eyes” themselves! :wink:

And yea, I love my toric lenses… yay! I can look at a microscope without scratching my lenses! I can deal with animals without being afraid of dirtying and throwing my eyeglasses to the side!

I have astigmatism in both eyes, but I have worn soft contacts since I was about 13 (so roughly 10 years). Never had any problems, I think I have only lost one or two (and that was fairly recently), and I find them a lot better than glasses. I probably should wear gas perms, but I don’t want to pay the extra $ for them, or deal with the extra hassle. My prescription continues to change a little each year, but it has stayed about the same as it was 10 years ago.

I started wearing contacts when I was 12 or 13, and never had a problem. As I got older and the astigmatism developed, I switched to Toric lenses. The first time I had a serious problem with them was about five or six years ago; one of them tore in my eye (still have no idea how). Being a big fan of overkill, I didn’t replace the contacts; I got lasik instead. But like KarlGrenze said, the doctors won’t do lasik until the prescription has stopped changing.

flodnak, they do make disposable toric lenses, so the astigmatism isn’t a problem. The keeping them clean might be, although it wasn’t for me, and I didn’t have disposables (so keeping them clean was critical). Is there some way you can have him pay for part of the lenses so that he sees the value in them?

I’ve worn soft contact lenses since I was seventeen (I’m twenty-nine now). I currently wear soft toric lenses which are for one to two weeks of wear, at which point they are thrown out. Acuvue Advance for Astigmatism is the brand I wear, and they are less troublesome than any other brand I have worn–they don’t make my eyes all dried out like the non-disposables often did. Lately I have nearly always worn my glasses, but that’s because I finally got some frames that were flattering, and because I’m just too financially strained at the moment to buy more contacts.

Got contacts when I was 12, for the reasons other have cited–to stop having to get my prescription redone every six months. Owing to my own laziness I did not do a total switch until I was 15 and could not pass the driver’s eye test with my glasses. (These were hard lenses BTW.)

Contacts are easier now. They are also cheaper. The effects of dirty contact lenses are immediate–tears, pain. The effects of not-quite-immaculate contacts apparently are not that bad, even long-term.

As a teenager I had some kind of contact lens insurance plan so that when I lost one–which I did on a couple of occasions–the replacement cost wasn’t that high. These days with disposables the replacement cost is pretty insignificant anyway.

Also they worked very well in halting whatever was going on with my vision. I had the same prescription until I was 48 and only changed it then because of presbyopia.

I was 9 or 10 (22 now) when I started wearing contacts. 13 is plenty old.

Agreed. I started wearing contacts when I was in 7th grade, and I had astigmatism. Toric lenses were really expensive back then (I think, the 'rents paid for them back then); I had non-disposable lenses, and I never lost/ripped a contact until my 20s.

How did that work for you? My eyes went from a -1.5 (or so I can’t really remember) to -5.75 over 10 years or so. I had yearly exams, and I’d realize that I couldn’t see very well any more at the 9-10 month mark or so. Realistically I probably could have gotten a new prescription every 6 months. I can’t imagine how expensive it would have been to get new non-disposable lenses at that rate.

From what I remember, I think I had to replace them yearly. I’m not sure how long the non-disposables were supposed to last, so maybe that was normal replacement time whether my vision changed or not. The weird thing is, my astigmatism came and went, so in the beginning, I just had to wear a toric in my right eye, but the next year, I had to wear one in both eyes, and then the next year down to one again. My vision changed a lot when I was younger; I’m pretty sure every six months would have worked for me too, but I just waited until my yearly exams. It was 12-13 years ago, so I can’t remember the strength numbers at all. I’m pretty impressed that you can!

Astigmatic contacts used to be a bitch to make, and consequently expensive. Since the mid-1990s, howe vere, there have been at least two major methods of rapid automated manufacture of them. I know – I worked on the test apparatus for toric contacts*. and I’ve seen the equipment used in their manufacture. I’m sure there have been improvements in speed, reliability, and cost since then.

*I co-hold two patents on this. If you wear disposable contacts, there’s a better than even chance that I have persionally built, repaired, calibrated, or designed the machine used for measuring your contact lenses.

I’ve worn soft toric lenses since I was 13 or 14. Astigmatism in both eyes, except on my last exam one eye appears to have corrected itself. (?) Now I wear an “aspheric” lens in that eye because it’s not completely better, just enough that there’s not a toric lens for it.

My contacts are made for two weeks’ wear. I have, in the past, worn them longer, but these days I can tell if I’m getting close to the end of two weeks by a slight increase in irritation at the end of the day, and I keep close track of the two week period. I haven’t ever lost or torn a lens accidentally. The few times I can recall having a lens fall out were after my eyes had been watering a lot - either after getting something trapped under the lens, or after crying. In those instances, they just kind of flop out onto my cheek, and it’s no big deal to retrieve, rinse, and reinsert.

Oh, and cost? I think my toric lenses are about $32 for a box of 6. (Bausch & Lomb) It’s not terrible to pay because it’s worth it to be able to put the contacts in and forget about them for the rest of the day. As for maintenance, I hardly ever have to do more than soak mine while I sleep.

I first got contacts when I was in the 5th grade, so I was 9 or 10 years old. Back then they were the hard contacts, but later I went to gas permeables. My astigmatism is too severe to allow me to wear Toric lenses, but I never had a problem with gas permeables. I wore them up until last summer, when I finally had lasik. I’m 46, so that’s about 35 years. Yeah, I lost one or two over the years, and I scratched my cornea a couple times (from dust getting under the contact), but all in all I had very few problems, even when I was pretty young.

Both my kids got contacts when they were 12 or 13, but only one still wears them (she’s 18 now). My son decided pretty quickly he didn’t like how they felt in his eyes and so he wouldn’t wear them. My daughter did pretty well with the disposables, and never had any real problems with them. I think 13 is old enough to take care of them if they are motivated to wear them.

Eye guy checking in. IANAD, but I work at an ophthalmology clinic, and worked for several years for 1-800-CONTACTS, and know somewhat of what I speak.

Many parents are worried about their kids being responsible enough to keep up with the routine of contact lens wear, cleaning and replacement. One solution is that there are daily disposable (i.e. wear one day and then toss) contacts available, even in toric prescriptions. They’re fairly expensive (a little over a dollar a day for toric), but they’re pretty much foolproof - no cleaning solutions, no storage cases, nothing. Just wear and toss, wear and toss.

If you elect for a standard two week lens (by far the most popular type), make sure you stay on top of your kid about taking them out at night, cleaining them regularly and throwing them away on schedule. My clinic sees a lot of patients, young as well as old, who show up with infections, inflammations, parasites or ulcers from wearing the same cruddy pair of two week lenses for six weeks, day and night. Eww.