12 Year Old Wanting to Get Contact Lenses Threw up Trying Them On

Updated on August 14, 2015
M.M. asks from Chicago, IL
22 answers


My 12 year old has been asking for contact lenses because he hates his glasses and never wears them. I was never able to wear them, I tried, failed and never wanted to do it again. I had him touch his eye ball, just to see if he could even do it before even going to get the exam. He was fine, so we made an appointment and went for the contact exam. During the training session, he couldn't put the left one in at all, was able to put the right one in, but then he got hot and sweaty and lightheaded and threw up.
They told me this was normal and it happens a lot with the first time users.
I was wondering if that ever happened to anyone and were you able to get over it and try again and be successful at wearing contacts? ADD: I was not in the room with him during this...

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answers from Columbia on


I suggest that you...leave. Let him practice putting them in and taking them out without mom or dad hovering. It takes practice. He'll eventually get the hang of it. But it's harder to learn when you have someone chattering at you the whole time "do it like this....no, try it this way."

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Never had that problem, but also never "touched my eyeball."
It was the contacts that needed to touch the eyeball.

I guess it never bothered me, because both of my parents wore contact lenses.. It was just not a scary thing.

I got my first pair at 12, I wish I could of gotten them earlier, but back in the dark ages, they were not available for kids.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Portland on

I've had kids throw up at being nervous about something - that part is actually not that uncommon (had it happen this morning as a matter of fact).

I started wearing lenses around that age. The first year I tried them, the optometrist made kind of a big deal about inserting them as if it would be hard, and I kind of panicked and couldn't handle it. We tried a different optometrist the following year, piece of cake. I think it was his approach.

It's possible your son may have taken your experience and figured this was a really hard thing to do (natural to do so if you couldn't wear them) and has gotten too nervous.

When I put my contacts in, I learned to just sort of not touch my eyeball. I think that's the part that grosses people out. I hold it just away enough so that it sticks but I'm not pressing my eyeball. Super light touch. Anyhow - yes, I found it tricky, but I ended up taking a set home and practicing and got the hang of it. And I get queasy ... so if I can do it ... it's possible :)

I would wait a bit and let him try at home. He's got one in, so he knows he can do it. It takes a lot of people practice. I used to sort of bang into my eyelashes. Within a short while I could stick them in without a mirror.

He'll get the hang of it - way better than glasses!! Good luck to him :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Des Moines on

Two of my children have contacts, and got them and 9 and 10 years old. The eye dr told us it doesn't matter the age, it has ALL to do with how they feel about putting contacts in and taking them out. Some people just cannot handle it, even adults.

Whether or not he can get past this, there is no way to know for sure...but if he is willing to try again and work past the panic, then I'd say go for it. But he has to be the one to get over it....and I hope that he can if he still wants contacts. Maybe he should talk to people (other than you that obviously has issues with it) that wear contacts, kids his age, to get their perspective and to know it eventually is super easy and no big deal.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My daughter got contact lenses a month before turning 10. We had to go back to the eye doctor 3x's for her to get it but she was determined and she figured it out. FYI...she did much better once I left the room and let her practice with the technician.

I stand corrected.... My daughter got her lenses a month before turning 9.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

It happened to me about the same age. I have such eye issues (I have yet to have a successful glaucoma screening because I can't stand things to be near my eyes) It took a few tries, but I eventually got the hang of it. If he's determined to wear contacts, he'll figure it out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

That's so bizarre to me. I began wearing contact lenses when I was 15. I wore them for 15 years (then became a SAHM and went to glasses since I was getting up in the night with babies). I still sporadically wore them - for special occasions when I didn't want glasses in pictures or the hassle during sports or whatever.

I don't recall ever really pressing on my eyeball. I mean, I may have touched (not pressed, just made contact only) my eyeball with the tip of a finger, for a nanosecond, or something, but to actually press against my eyeball? Never. All I ever did was the equivalent of getting a speck of something in your eye and using the flat of your finger to touch just enough to get the irritant (eye lash?) to stick to the finger and come out of the eye. That's it.

Pressing on my eyeball would be creepy and gross. Probably wouldn't have made me throw up. I've never been nauseous from eye/contact lens use or the idea of it. But if the eye doctor's office says it isn't unusual, then I would take their word for it. I only have my own experience to go on.

I second the notion that he should be allowed to practice without an audience though. It can be stressful at first. After getting the hang of it, though, it's no big deal at all. It can be frustrating for someone who is trying it for the first few times. And honestly, for some people it seems more difficult than for others. Give him a little space. Let him decide if he's willing to keep working at it a little longer.
Every eye doctor I've ever visited has sent me off with a pair of trial lenses. He can practice with those at home and when he gets the hang of it, THEN order him some. Or not, if he decides he doesn't want to deal with it.

He's likely just feeling a lot of pressure since he really wants to ditch the glasses. Don't add more. Let him have some breathing room.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I got bit by a dog when I was a kid and almost lost an eye. I have been super sensitive about anything being near my eyes ever since. When I was 40, I decided that I wanted contacts. Let me tell you....when the doctor had to put that first one in for me I was shaking. I'm still not sure how he got it in my eye. I didn't actually get sick, but I was most definitely traumatized. Once I got to practice putting them in myself a few times I was fine. I also concur with Christy Lee, don't hover. Let him practice without the pressure of someone watching him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I was 13 when I got contacts and I didn't react that way at all.
This was the 70's, I was extremely near sighted (I couldn't see beyond the tip of my nose - I'm not kidding), my glasses were heavy and thick (high polymer plastics hadn't really come along yet) and I so WELCOMED contacts - it was a RELIEF to wear them to experience normal eyesight.
I was suppose to wear them a few hours a day at first to get use to them.
I jumped right to wearing them all day long.
It got to the point where I had back up contacts instead of a backup pair of glasses.
I wore them until I was 37 yrs old and LASIK came along and gave me 20/20 vision for about 10 years and then I had to wear reading glasses (happens to us all in our late 40's no matter what you do).

Back in the day, 13 was considered very young for contacts but today kids as young as 8 wear them.
Maturity varies quite a bit so what works for one might not work for another.

If your son wants contacts, he's going to have to get over his nerves, view it as something very common, somewhat boring and nothing to worry about - and he'll soon be dealing with putting them in and taking them out every day 365 days a year.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Never heard of that happening and I know tons of kids who had contacts at that age. It sounds like his anxiety got to be too much and they were just trying to not add to his stress.

It is stressful to first put them in, think about it, put these in in front of me or you can't take them home!! My older daughter didn't have nearly the drama you did but it took her some time to get them in. For the next year she would come to me for time to time frustrated so I would put them in for her because we were in a hurry. That is something you may want to consider because a lot of parents had to pop them in for their kids.

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answers from Washington DC on

Sounds like a panic attack.

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answers from Dallas on

Best wishes... No experience with contacts but I have super sensitive eyes and I'd rather go to the dentist than go to the eye dr and have the puff of air, drops or anything close to my eye!

I hate it! It's all I can muster to do my lashes with mascara!

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm not sure having him touch his eyeball was helpful. i'm one of the ones who was not able to get the hang of it, and reverted to glasses. but i didn't handle my eyeballs. the lens touched them, not my fingers.
the doctor told you this was pretty normal. millions of people are able to get past an initial EEEK reaction to putting them in and use them. some of us aren't, but even i probably could have if i'd stuck with it.
how badly does he want contacts?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I never had a problem with contacts, but I have a friend who has been trying to use them for the first time this year. He hasn't thrown up, but he does get sweaty and lightheaded. Poor dude, it is ticking him off because he figures a 40 year old grown man should be able to do it.

It sounds like your son is on the unhappily normal side. :-( He can either try again, or stick with his glasses. Whichever choice feels right for now.

My kids have both worn glasses since age 8. My younger son was resistant to getting glasses at first, but not wearing them isn't an option; there would be consequences. Not wearing the glasses is not a choice that I allow my kids to make.

What they DO get to choose is their eyeglasses style. If your son's current glasses are uncomfortable or he doesn't like the look, that is something you can change.

Check out zennioptical.com, it's a great deal and quality work. Everyone in my family has had glasses from there at some point. My husband's current glasses cost under $17, including shipping.

Re: Doris Day's age comment - Back when I was young, contacts were either rigid and difficult, or softer lenses were worn for a year at a time and required multi-step and multi-product care. Back then, an older age for starting contacts was in order.

Now that contacts are usually replaced every day or week, the risk of infection is much lower and the care is one-step and super easy. The average age range for children getting contact lenses is 8 to 11 years old. Kids in this age group have a 90% success rate of appropriate self-care and use without parental help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Sorry, I'm laughing because I can so see myself doing that!

At one time I had contacts, and I'm not sure how. I never had a reaction to that situation, but it is a running joke with my family about me passing out in other medical settings.

My PCP told me it is a vasovagal response and shouldn't cause alarm. We had this conversation because I'm tired of medical professionals wanting to send me to the ER for observation when it does happen.

I guess my question is, does your son still want to move forward with the contacts? I'm sure in time he'll become a real pro and you'll all have a good laugh.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

It was probably just stressful.
Maybe in his own bathroom, he'd be more comfortable?

You can't even buy non disposable contacts any more ( I think I was the last holdout!) so I wouldn't be worried about eye infections, etc.
I'd let him try it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

It is something that takes practice. When I first started wearing them it would sometimes take me 30 minutes to get them in in the morning. Now, it takes all of 30 seconds. Let him have a pair to practice with and let him see what he thinks with time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Hi! I'm an optometrist and I see this all the time. Kids get nervous and some of them have a difficult time. Most new contact lens wearers do, even adult patients. Your child may need more than one training class to get it right. Your optometrist will perhaps give you "homework" to practice at home before a 2nd attempt. Perhaps he will do better without an audience (mom). Ask the staff to schedule a child-friendly technician to teach him, and exit the room so he can fly solo with them. If he can not do it on the 2nd or 3rd try, you can always try again when he's older. No worries mom!



answers from San Francisco on

My son got lightheaded to the point of passing out when first trying contacts, the doctor wisely scheduled another appointment. After some research, I found it is very normal to have a negative reaction. Most people go on to wear contacts successfully.

I also encouraged my son and told him he would not pass out again. He wears his contacts for sports and has been for almost 2 years.



answers from Washington DC on

I'd ask him if he wants to try again or wait. There's no foul in holding off. However, I would tell him that never wearing his glasses is not an option, either, and honestly I would have asked him to be a responsible glasses-wearer for 6 months before considering contacts. If your glasses get dirty, you don't get an eye infection. Is he really ready for contacts?



answers from Miami on

I haven't read the other posts yet, but oh good grief. What doctor lets a 12 year old have contacts? He or she should have told your son that he has to wait until he's older. He will never want to have contacts after this.

Kids also don't do a good job cleaning contacts, and end up with eye infections. I'm sorry, but there are some things that need to be for when a kid is older. This is one of them. And I think that these people are being inappropriate. It's an opinion, but having worn contacts since I was 18 years old and I'm in my 50's, this is really how I feel.



answers from New York on

My 13-year old daughter is on day 3 of her trial week. It took her FOREVER in the training session to get that left one in, and yesterday when she was putting them in for the first time at home she went through three of the left lenses (thank goodness they gave us extras for the week).

How does your son feel about them now? I think that since the eye dr office said the throwing up was not uncommon that it's nothing to worry about. As long as your son is willing to keep trying I would let him - my daughter LOVES her lenses, even with the time it takes to get them in.

I can't tell you how excited she was when we got her some off the rack sunglasses at Target yesterday :)

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