The Safety of Soft Contact Lenses in Children

Optom Vis Sci. 2017 Jun;94(6):638-646. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001078.


Purpose: There is increasing interest in fitting children with soft contact lenses. This review collates data from a range of studies to estimate the incidence of complications, specifically corneal infiltrative events and microbial keratitis, in patients under the age of 18 years.

Methods: Peer-review papers were identified using PubMed and the Web of Science. A broad range of studies are summarized including large-scale epidemiological studies of contact lens-related complications, hospital-based case series, long- and short-term prospective studies, and multicenter retrospective studies.

Results: Nine prospective studies representing 1800 patient years of wear in 7- to 19-year-olds include safety outcomes. In three large prospective studies representing between 159 and 723 patient years of soft contact lens wear in patients 8 to 14 years, the incidence of corneal infiltrative events is up to 136 per 10,000 years. Data from a large retrospective study show similar rates of corneal infiltrative events: 97 per 10,000 years in 8- to 12-year-olds (based on 411 patient years of wear) and 335 per 10,000 years in 13- to 17-year-olds (based on 1372 patient years of wear). None of the prospective studies report any cases of microbial keratitis. Five clinical studies where safety data are not reported constitute a further 493 patient years. One retrospective study found no cases of microbial keratitis occurred in 8- to 12-year-olds (411 patient years) and an incidence of 15 per 10,000 patient years in 13- to 17-year-olds (1372 patient years)-no higher than the incidence of microbial keratitis in adults wearing soft contact lenses on an overnight basis.

Conclusions: The overall picture is that the incidence of corneal infiltrative events in children is no higher than in adults, and in the youngest age range of 8 to 11 years, it may be markedly lower.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Contact Lenses, Hydrophilic*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Keratitis* / diagnosis
  • Keratitis* / epidemiology
  • Keratitis* / etiology
  • Safety