Glasses Versus Contact Lenses For Children

I wrote this post while participating in an influencer campaign by Mumsnet on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.  
Please view my disclosure policy for more details.


Pink NHS Glasses, 1970s,

I think it was during a childhood developmental check that my parents found out I had issues with my eyesight.  Tunnel vision was mentioned, but soon dismissed and it was agreed that I should have regular check-ups to monitor the situation.  As a child of the 70's there were a grand total of one style of frame available in three colours- pink, blue or brown.  Lots of attempts were made (by my parents) to make me wear my glasses and lots of attempts were made (by me) to 'lose' the glasses.  I was never over-confident about my appearance in the first place and the face furniture just made me feel even more self-conscious about my looks.   I'm not even sure why  people felt the need to poke fun at others who wore glasses but it was very much ingrained into society.  "Specky Four Eyes" was a popular taunt back in the days of my childhood.  I asked Mum about getting contact lenses but she didn't seem too keen on the idea and they were quite expensive.

Sports day was a nightmare!  I was great at running but could never see the end of the track so I'd just run full pelt until I hit the finish tape.  Long jump was another issue meaning that the run-up would have to be carefully measured as the board only came into clear view when I was halfway into my run-up.  I can't imagine even attempting either of these sports wearing glasses.

As soon as I hit the age of 18 I visited my local opticians and made arrangements to have contact lenses fitted as I could afford to pay for them myself.  They were the 'new' (at the time) semi-permeable lenses but they were just for day wear.  I loved them so much and took great care with them.  Until I lost one.  And they were too expensive to replace.  So I swallowed my own pride and went back to glasses.

That is, until recently.  Contact lenses are much cheaper now (or there are payment schemes available) and they are much more friendly to the eye.  I now have lenses that I can sleep in and I just wear my glasses on the odd occasion to give my eyes a 'rest' from the lenses - I've also got some decent frames now too so I don't feel so self-conscious wearing my glasses.  Oh, how times change (plus I got over my bad ass self!).

However... when it comes to my children, one of them has a similar vision issue to myself (myopia and astigmatism).  He has needed to wear glasses for many years now but constantly makes the same excuses that I did:  he can't find them, he doesn't like wearing them, he doesn't like the frames (that he chose himself). And whilst I totally sympathise with him, I still don't want him to have contact lenses even though I know how comfortable they are and how they will improve his confidence.  Contact lenses for children seems like a very intense corrective process and one that children may not be able to manage themselves.  It feels a bit hypocritical, doesn't it?  

So when Mumsnet sent me the results of the Johnson & Johnson Vision Care survey it was sort of comforting to read that 50% of parents who wear some form of vision correction felt the same. A growing body of research in children's vision correction also continues to demonstrate that contact lenses provide significant benefits to children beyond correcting their vision, including self-confidence, athletic ability (see my dilemma above) and academic confidence which is probably due to the amount of blackboard/whiteboard/interactive screen work.  

Also in the survey a child's age was a major factor when parents were making the decision between glasses and contact lenses for their child but studies show that some children as young as 8 years old are capable of wearing and caring for their own contact lenses.  92% of parents of children who already wore contact lenses said that their child likes wearing contact lenses - and 97% of the same surveyed parents said that their child wears soft lenses. 

I'm still not keen on the idea of my teenager wearing contact lenses and will probably encourage him to keep wearing his glasses until he is at least sixteen.  but what about your thoughts?

Do you wear contact lenses or glasses at all?  What do you think is right for a child or should they be fully involved in their eye wear decision?  In your opinion, what is the right age for a child to start wearing contact lenses?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Glasses and contact lenses are both good options for people who need vision correction but parents should talk to their optician to find out what options are best for their child.  To locate an Eye Care Professional in your area, visit and use the "Find an Optician" tab.