Eyeglasses for Infants and Children

Prescriptions for glasses can be measured in even the youngest and most uncooperative children by using a special instrument called a retinoscope to analyze light reflected through the pupil from the back of the eye.

Most lenses today, especially for children, are made of plastic, which is stronger and lighter than glass. It is a good idea to get a scratch-resistant coating on plastic lenses. Children can be rough with glasses and plastic lenses scratch easily.

Color tints or tints that respond to changes in light can be incorporated into lenses. For children, the tint should not be so dark that the child has trouble seeing indoors.

Frames come in all shapes and sizes. Choose one that fits comfortably but securely. There are devices available to keep glasses in place, a good idea for active children and young children with flat nasal bridges. Cable temples, which wrap around the back of the ears, are good for toddlers. Infants may require a strap across the top and back of the head instead of earpieces. Flexible hinges hold glasses in position, allow the glasses to “grow” with the child, and prevent the side arms from being broken.

Children often do not like their glasses although the prescription is correct. Distraction, positive reinforcement, and bribery help children get in the habit of wearing glasses. If all else fails, your ophthalmologist can prescribe an eye drop that blurs vision when the glasses are not in place. This often overcomes the child’s initial resistance to wearing glasses.


Giant Papillary Conjunctivitis (GPC)

Giant papillary conjunctivitis (GPC) is an inflammation of the inner surface of the eyelids, most frequently associated with contact lens wear. It can develop in people who wear either soft or rigid gas permeable contact lenses and can occur at any time, even if an individual has successfully worn contacts for a number of years. Although not vision threatening, GPC can be inconvenient and may require one to stop wearing contacts temporarily or even permanently.

The typical symptoms of GPC include red, irritated eyes, often with itching and mucus discharge. Blurred vision and light sensitivity can also occur. GPC is not an infection, but a hypersensitivity of the membrane covering the inner lids and the whites of the eyes. The inner lining of the eyelid becomes roughened and inflamed by constant blinking over a contact lens or other foreign body such as an artificial eye. Hard, flat elevations in a cobblestone pattern develop on the undersurface of the upper eyelid. Eventually the entire eye becomes irritated.

In most cases, treatment of GPC involves discontinuing the use of contact lenses to allow the eye to rest. Eyedrops are frequently prescribed to control inflammation. Many people find their symptoms are relieved when contact lens wear is discontinued. Unfortunately, the symptoms can return when lens wear is resumed.

Once GPC is under control, it may be helpful to consider changing to new contacts or disposable contacts. Changing lens care systems and cleansing solutions can also be helpful. After an episode of GPC, limit the amount of time lenses are worn, and increase the time slowly.

Once it develops, GPC may be an ongoing problem. Prolonged GPC may be more difficult to treat.


How to Care for Contact Lenses

The key to avoiding the irritation and infection sometimes associated with contact lens wear is proper cleaning.

There are two main types of lens care systems: heat and chemical disinfection. The appropriate choice depends on the lens type, duration of lens wear and an individual’s own biochemistry. Regardless of the type of disinfection system you choose there are a number of common steps that must be followed.

  • Always wash your hands prior to handling your contact lenses.
  • Remove one lens and place it in the palm of your hand. Apply a few drops of a contact soap, usually called cleaning solution. Rub the soap onto both sides of the lens surface to help remove deposits, debris, protein build-up, and any bacterial film. Removing surface deposits and other debris not only contributes to improved vision and comfort but also reduces the risk of infection and allergy. Soft extended-wear contacts may be the most likely to develop a protein build-up that can lead to lens-related allergies.
  • After thoroughly cleaning the lens, rinse it with commercially available sterile saline solution. Homemade saline solutions have been linked to serious eye infections and should never be used.
  • After cleaning and rinsing, lenses need to be disinfected. You and your ophthalmologist will pick the best system for you, but make sure you understand the instructions and follow them. Heat and chemical disinfection methods each require several hours of disinfection time.
  • After disinfecting, rinse the lens with sterile saline before putting it in your eye.
  • Your empty contact lens case should be thoroughly rinsed with warm water and allowed to air dry. All contact lens cases need to be cleaned frequently, including disposable lens case