Infant Contacts 101

F-I-Contacts

Your infant or toddler has to wear contacts? Wait. WHAT? Don’t worry, we’ve got some tips and tricks for you!

Here is what to expect. Tips, trick and advise from me, and other parents of children in contacts. This is for parents who have infants and toddlers in contacts, and for you who are just starting out.

First off, Why a contact? Contacts aren’t easy but sometimes they are the best thing for vision. Infants wear contacts for a few reasons but the most common reason is children born with congenital cataracts. Some children also wear contacts because they have a high prescription in one eye and not the other, which is also the case with unilateral congenital cataract kids.

Contact lenses are much better for aphakics because with glasses you have a reduced visual field, depth perception problems and various other distortions such as magnification and curvature effects.

HERE ARE A COUPLE TIPS. Remember that I am not a doctor, always do what your doctor advises. These are just tips and tricks and a recourse for you. Here are a few things I have learned in the last 16 months of our cataract and contact journey!

don't-be-intimidated

Its okay to freak out for a little while, but remember YOU can do this! You can do anything! Most of you just had a baby, if you can do that you can put a little contact in an eye! Have faith your yourself! You will learn and someday you will realize what an amazing thing you and your baby have done together! Remember, Its okay to CRY!

going CRAZY

“I remember when we first started on the infant contact journey I really didn’t know if I could do this! But now its a part of life. It still has its day’s with fit problems but my son is learning, growing and he can see! Pretty well too, even when patched! What a miracle.”

Oh and Don’t drive yourself CRAZY!

cut-your-fingernails

This is probably the simplest but best advise anyone gave me! I was having the hardest time getting the contact in my sons eye because I was so scared I would hurt him. After cutting my fingernails everything went so much smoother! Now that im getting better I don’t have to cut them so short but it really helped while I was leaning!

This is a +23 silsoft contact lens.

Contact_S

check

Get ready to check your child’s eyes hundreds of times a day. This is easier than you would expect and after a while you will do it without even thinking. Older sibblings can even learn to help. In the photo below you can see the contact bubble pretty well. Scott wears a silsoft contact lens. He is in a +26 contact here.

easy to see contact

contact close up l

contacts in both eyes

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contact fit

Losing lenses is normal to an extent but if it happens too often it probably means a bad fit or their might be a better solution.

Im sad to say the Contact Monster will most likely show up at least a couple times.

Contact-monster-illustration-large

When you find yourself on the floor looking through all your little ones toys hoping and praying you will find  the needle in a haystack. Know that you are not the only one who has crawled on the floor at church, and cried at Fred Myer when you noticed the contact gone. You are not crazy if you yell “STOP, No one move!” to your family. You normally laugh after the fact but feel free to cry too. You will become a master at finding contacts in a pile of toys, couch cushions and other strange places.

searching for a contact

One thing that can help when you are trying to find a lost contact is a flashlight! Here is my amazing mom after she found a contact in the couch cushions!

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flash-light

HERE ARE A FEW PLACES TO LOOK FOR A LOST CONTACT

•Retrace your steps.

•Bed is always a first for us (Don’t forget to look under the mattress and shake out all the blankets)

•Bottom of Shoes (We have even found one on the bottom of our doctors shoe!)

•Diaper, shirt, pants…

•Couch, chair cushions.

•We even found older sister trying to put it into her own eye one day! Must have fallen out and she found it! She is 2 and a half.

diaper-bag-supplies

It will help if you have some supplies on hand. I almost always have a contact case, contact solution, binky, glasses and eye patch with me. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere asking friends or strangers if they have some contact solution because your child’s contact fell out. I’ve been there!

You can also carry some fun toys in your bag. High contrast and light up toys are a great way to help stimulate vision.

diaper bag

GLASSES-

Do you need to get glasses? This is a good question! It really depends on your circumstances and what your doctor recommends. Glasses with plano (no prescription) lenses are often recommended. You can also get a back up pair of glasses with the full aphakic prescription to wear while not wearing the contact. We haven’t gotten a back up pair yet but will soon. Ask your doctor. Some say yes, some say no.

At 8 months old we started wearing glasses over the top of the contact full time. We had been loosing contacts left and right. It made a HUGE difference! It slowed down the eye rubbing and stopped the contact falling out (for the most part). We normally lost the contact when I forgot to put the glasses on!

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insert

One of the most intimidating things when you are first starting out is to put the contact in by yourself for the first time! Remember, Your child will be seriously mad at you while inserting and removing the contact. Just remind yourself this is for usable vision in both eyes. They will soon learn that contacts help them see better. AND…. They will be thankful when they are older and realize how much their parents fought for their vision.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS FROM OTHER PARENTS:

• They WILL BE MAD! Be patient and don’t hate your self for it.

•Rewards work! Bribes work!

•Swaddle in a blanket. (this helps a lot when they are younger) It keeps their hands out of your way.

•Do contacts yourself from the beginning. Others can learn as well but there will come a time when no one is  there to help you.

•If you are struggling to get it in or out its okay to cry! Take a break and then try again. YOU CAN DO THIS!

•Create a routine. It can be once a week, every couple weeks or every day. It depends on the contact you use and what your doctor recommends.

•Don’t be the only one in the household who knows how to do it.

“I wish I could tell all the parents with little ones that it gets WAY easier – Nicholas takes his contacts out on his own and needs a little help putting them in. Just know – those crazy moments when your sweating and swearing under your breath while sitting on your poor kid and poking him in the eyes will all magically go away!! Yes, there will be a day when you won’t be up at night thinking about having to put those suckers back in your kids eyes – oh, the dread!” – Melissa (mother of a 9 year old who has been in contacts since he was 2 weeks old)

WATCH SOME AWESOME MOMS AND KIDS IN ACTION! 

Thanks to Suzi for these. Watch her use the TACO here!

Thanks to Kerri for these videos.

Thanks to Michelle for this video of her 5 year old removing her own contact:

Thanks to Natalie for this video. Im AMAZED how well this cute little girl does! Way to go!

DO-THE-TACO-BANNER

What I have found that helped most when inserting a silsoft contact lens is doing the taco! You fold the contact in half a little bit and then hold your little ones eye lids open and slide the lens up under the top lid. This will help give you a good grip on the contact.

do-the-taco

SUPPORT

Try and find support. It can make a huge difference! You are not the only one out there and we all want to help.

Though support groups I have found a couple other kids in the area who wear contacts or have worn contacts and its been life changing. Its so great to have someone I can text on a bad day when we get visited by the contact monster! Its wonderful all the friends we have made on facebook too!

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APHAKIC YAHOO GROUP – http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/aphakic/info

APHAKIC KIDS FACEBOOK GROUP – https://www.facebook.com/groups/139232330344/

CHILDREN WITH CONGENITAL CATARACTS  FACEBOOK– https://www.facebook.com/groups/119006164779279/

CATARACT TOTS FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/22580717068/

CONGENITAL GLAUCOMA FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/6070128087/

CONGENITAL CATARACTS FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/168034523226568/

PARENTS WITH CATARACT / APHAKIC BABIES FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/436422123133209/

LITTLE FOUR EYES – A support group for parents with little ones in patches or glasses. Site: www.littlefoureyes.com and the facebook support is https://www.facebook.com/groups/littlefoureyes/

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You can also click HERE to see some other links and fun blogs.

EVERYONE

After all I’ve got to say about contacts, I’ve also got to say that contacts aren’t for everyone! It is the normal thing with cataract kids and what is normally suggested but sometimes it doesn’t work. Things happen. You can’t control everything and say “my kid will wear a contact” and have it work just like that.  As I write this post my son is sitting in a pair of loaner aphakic glasses and no contact! Really, We are hoping to find a better contact fit soon but you just have to go with the flow. You will know what is best. Contacts are normally the best option especially for unilateral cataract patients but sometimes they don’t work and an IOL isn’t the best thing at the time either. Do what is best for YOU and don’t judge others for what they are doing.

loan glasses s

I Love this from Kelli, a Mom of a uni cataract daughter who tried contacts and is now in glasses.

Don’t get discouraged by the naysayers who say cataract babies need to be in lenses. Everyone’s situation is different. Trust your gut and trust your doctor. You are doing the best you can. It’s an uphill battle and it’s ok to have bad days.

lily6

UNDERSTAND

To help your little one learn about contacts and patching you can also order this new book by Juliette Vignola.

Called Samantha Wears a Contact Lens and Patch Just Like You! Its a great story and my son’s favorite page is where they are putting in the contact. Even though he is still young he instantly knew exactly what it was and pointed at the picture then his eye! This book is also great for older siblings to understand more.

You can order this book on amazon HERE. I am not endorsed in any way Juliette.  This is not a “paid” or compensated post. I just LOVE this book.

samantha book 4

samantha book 3

And in the end, just remember that YOU can do this and one day you will look back and laugh. Contacts become a part of life and one day your little one with put their own contacts in and you will be able to smile with pride!

BELIEVE

If any of you doing contacts think of anything I should add or have any other videos of you inserting or removing a contact let me know!

30 Comments

  • Cristle says:

    I just want to thank out for making this!! This is such a great way to make parents (like me) feel comfortable and know that thy aren’t the only ones out there crying and praying to find the contact or having trouble putting the contact in their 5 month old’s eye… Thank you for adding the support pages as well! I don’t know many people around here who have had congenital cataracts so no one knows what I go through on a daily basis. I literally look for Kaleb’s contact EVERY TIME I look at him!! And if I don’t see it, the search is on and panic mode begins to set in. Again, thank you so much! This makes me so happy :)

  • Serra Meyer says:

    Thanks so much. You have some useful tips here, but mostly nice to hear that there are other parents going through the same thing. Can be so very sad and frustrating. Thanks for posting this!

  • jenny says:

    Hi. My daughter has microopthalmia in one eye, where her eye stopped growing before she was born. We have a hard contact which we put in each day, and for months I was sooo terrified of putting it in and taking it out.

    Thanks for the knowledge that I’m not the only one who massively struggled with this at first, but now it’s second nature.

    :)

  • Denicia says:

    Thank you so much for putting together this website. My son was diagnosed with congenital cataracts at 3 months old. At 5 months old he had surgery to have them removed. He has been in glasses since. The doctors urged us to go to contacts right away but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. He is now 23 months old & we started contacts this week. It has been a rough couple of days. It’s nice to hear that it will get easier. It’s also nice to see that there are others out there going through what my family is going through.

    • reaserj@gmail.com says:

      It does get a lot easier! Both of you will learn a routine! Please feel free to ask if you ever have any questions or would like to talk. 😉

  • Kate says:

    We just started with a contact this week for my 6 week old. I didn’t have any problem putting it in (loved the swaddling tip – thank you!) but I’m nervous about taking it out. Any tips or tricks you suggest? Thanks!

    • reaserj@gmail.com says:

      Taking it out has always been harder for me. Swaddling will help. When my son was younger we tried to take it out while he was sleeping. That worked till he got old enough to know better. 😉 Our doc suggested to rub the eye lid while his eye was shit in a couple soft circles. to break the contacts seal on the eye, it seems to come out easier that way. Cut your fingernails really short too, then you dont have to worry about hurting them at all.

  • Thank you so much for this post, I had not idea how to go about this before. Keep up the good work on this blog!

  • I wish i had them sooner says:

    My baby was born with congenital cataracts it was removed at 7 and 9 weeks old the doctor told us glasses and maybe we would talk about contacts in the future i never knew i could use them so young i paid 250 for her glasses that she will never keep on she is now 8 months and i have asked for the contacts I’m so worried that her not having the contacts sooner and not wearing her glasses is going to effect her i really wish my doctor would of told us about the contacts after the surgery and she hates patching its a nightmare…..

  • Abby says:

    Thank you for this post! The close up picture with the silsoft lens was really helpful when I was still unsure how to tell if my baby girl’s lens was in or not. She’s been wearing her contact for 4 weeks now, but this is the first time I have to remove it by myself (it’s a 2 week lens, her opthalmologist cleaned it the first time). I’m surprised that I’m having a lot more trouble removing it than I did inserting it!!

    • Christie says:

      Hi there,
      My son Ben was born with cataracts and after having operations at 4 and 6 weeks has been wearing contact lenses since he was 2 months old.
      Our doctor has told us to remove them daily. Are there any long wear ones that anyone can recommend?

      Ben is now 17 months and the daily fight is becoming very difficult as he is so strong and doesn’t nap like he used to, I really feel if we could even do 3/4 days at a time it would help so much.

      My husband and I are very grateful for how far Ben has come but I feel we are losing precious fun, play and learning time to the 2/3 hr daily fight to get them in and out.
      All replies would be very very welcome. Thanks Christie x

  • Sara says:

    I love you right now! I am going to save this to read on hard days. Hugs! Hugs! Hugs! I have a 7 month old that has had a contact since 12 weeks.

  • Jan Weber says:

    Thank you, thank you! I was having a down day (a visit from the contact monster!!!) and was so happy to come across this. I was ready to give up, but now I am motivated to persevere.

  • Karen says:

    I’m glad to read this and all the support group information. I was just having a bad few days not being able to take my little one’s contacts out. I got so frustrated! The older she gets the more she has the motor skills to fight me.

    • reaserj@gmail.com says:

      How is the contact going now? Sorry for not responding right away. I had a baby around the time you commented. I know the feeling of struggling with the contact> My son is so strong and it was really hard for awhile. Just stick to it. I promise it gets better. Last year it was kicking and screaming ever time. This year he still fights it but he can sometimes sit in a chair all by himself and let me put it in and take it out! There is a light at the end of the tunnel! Good luck!

  • Abby says:

    This was soooo helpful. My almost 3 year old needs to wear one contact lens to correct her crossed eye. The eye Dr didn’t give me any pointers or tips and this page is AMAZING!!! Thank you.

  • Christen Valentine says:

    Thank you so much! We just received my daughters contact today and I just want to cry. The Dr made it sound so easy! It’s hard, he said it’s ok for her to sleep in it for 1 night if I can’t get it out. I was just talking to my husband about how I wished there was a support group because I can’t expect my Dr to answer his phone at 8pm!

    • reaserj@gmail.com says:

      I totally know the feeling. Hows it going now? You getting the contact figured out? Are you using a soft or hard contact?

  • Dorine says:

    Is there a way to get financial support for this expensive care.

  • Jasmine Smith says:

    thank you so much for the encouraging words!!! i had one of those days where i wanted to pull my hair out! lol but thanks to you i know i can get through this

  • Nancy Yang says:

    This is amazing! Our son Josiah was born with congenital cataracts in both eyes so it’s been an upwards battle all these years. He’s 5 and we finally have the hang of everything without him screaming and crying. I can relate to these posts so so much!

  • Rebecca A. says:

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing all this! We are just starting this journey with our 6 week old. He just had his surgery this week & we go in for his contact lens & patching demo next week.

  • Great site and a great topic as well. I think these are really some of the important information that you have shared. I Got some good idea about infant contacts 101. Thanks a lot for sharing.

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