Despite several studies that show 8- to 11-year-old children are capable of wearing a various contact lens modalities, parents often report that their eye care practitioner would not fit their child with contact lenses until the child was about 13 years old. We conducted the Contact Lenses in Pediatrics (CLIP) Study to compare contact lens fitting and follow-up between 8- to 12-year-old children and 13- to 17-year-old teenagers.
At the baseline visit, all subjects underwent a contact lens fitting, including visual acuity, a manifest refraction, autorefraction, and biomicroscopy. Subjects then underwent contact lens insertion and removal training, which consisted of talking about contact lens care as well as inserting and removing a contact lens three times. Subjects returned for follow-up visits at 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months, and visual acuity, contact lens fit assessment, and biomicroscopy were performed. The time of the fitting, the insertion and removal training, and each follow-up visit were measured individually and added for a total chair time. Biomicroscopy examinations were conducted according to a standardized protocol.
We enrolled 84 children and 85 teens in the study. Of the 169 subjects, 93 (55.0%) were female, 78 (46.2%) were white, 44 (23.3%) were Hispanic, and 28 (17.6%) were black. The mean (± SD) total chair time for children was 110.6 ± 39.2 min, significantly more than 95.3 ± 25.2 min for teens (Student’s t-test, p = 0.003). Most of the difference was caused by insertion and removal training, which lasted 41.9 ± 32.0 min for children and 30.3 ± 20.2 min for teens (Student’s t-test, p = 0.01). The presence of conjunctival staining increased from 7.1% of the subjects at baseline to 19.9% of the subjects at 3 months (χ2, p = 0.0006), but the changes were similar between children and teens. No other biomicroscopy signs increased significantly over the 3-month period.
The total chair time for children is approximately 15 min longer than teens, but most of that difference is explained by longer time spent teaching children insertion and removal. Because insertion and removal is generally taught by staff members, the eye care practitioner’s time with the patient is similar between children and teens. Furthermore, neither children nor teens experienced problems related to contact lens wear during the study. Eye care practitioners should consider routinely offering contact lenses as a treatment option, even for children 8 years old.