Purpose: Children are not offered elective contact lenses as a treatment option for refractive error nearly as often as teens are. The purpose of this report was to examine the benefits of contact lens wear for children and teens to determine whether children benefit as much as teens. If they do, children should routinely be offered contact lens wear as a treatment for refractive error.
Methods: Neophyte contact lens wearers were categorized as children (8-12 years of age) or teens (13-17 years of age). They completed the Pediatric Refractive Error Profile (PREP), a pediatric quality-of-life survey for subjects affected only by refractive error, while wearing glasses; then they were fitted with silicone hydrogel contact lenses. One week, 1 month, and 3 months after receiving contact lenses, the subjects completed the same PREP survey. Subjects also completed questions regarding wearing time and satisfaction with contact lenses during specific activities.
Results: The study enrolled 169 subjects at three clinical centers. Ninety-three (55%) of the subjects were girls; 78 (46%) were white; and 44 (26%) were Hispanic. After wearing contact lenses for 3 months, the overall PREP score increased from 64.4 for children and 61.8 for teens while wearing glasses to 79.2 for children and 76.5 for teens. The improvement from baseline to 3 months was significant for children and teens (P<0.0001 for both groups), but there was not a significant difference in improvement between children and teens (P>0.05). The areas of most improvement were satisfaction with correction, activities, and appearance.
Conclusions: Contact lenses significantly improved the quality of life, as reported by children and teens using the PREP, and there was not a difference in improvement between children and teens. Contact lens wear dramatically improves how children and teens feel about their appearance and participation in activities, leading to greater satisfaction with their refractive error correction. The improvement in quality of life after contact lens wear indicates that children should be offered contact lenses as a treatment for refractive error as routinely as teens.