Contacts or No Contacts?

Updated on July 26, 2010
N.S. asks from Las Cruces, NM
24 answers

My fourteen year old son has been wearing glasses since he was five. He will be entering 9th grade this school year and desperately wants contacts. I have mentioned this idea to his eye Dr. before and he said he does not prescribe contacts to young teenagers because of hygiene and care concerns due to their age. I know of many children who have been wearing contacts since grade school. Should I push it and ask again during next week's yearly visit? Has anyone dealt with 14 year old boys and contacts? He is not in sports so that would not be an issue. I'm thinking of getting him both and start on the contacts little by little until he can manage them with minimal help.

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So What Happened?

Thanks to all of you for your advice, personal experience and tips. We decided to go ahead and start our son on his first pair of contacts! He loves them. He had a bit of trouble learning how to take them off, but with a little practice he'll get better. I'm glad we did it. From what I see from your posts, 14 is the most common age to begin. The Dr. did not try to discourage us this time when I asked him for them. I guess 14 is better that 13 and he might see the beginning of high school as a good time to try them. He has frame glasses as a back up and I'm sure he will be very happy with his contacts when school starts up again. Thanks again for your encouragement!

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

If he's responsible and you teach him how to take care of them, then I say ask again. It's the Dr.'s job to be worried, but contacts are SO much nicer when you're a teenager than glasses. Just set the ground rules for him. If he doesn't take care of them, it's back to glasses for a few weeks. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I would get them.. This is such a hard time for kids. Anything you can do to make him less self-conscious...

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answers from Denver on

Just make sure he washes his hands good before putting them in and before taking them out and keeps his nails short as not to tear them. I don't understand why hygiene has anything to do with it unless your doctor meant the hands/fingernails issue? It's not like he is putting them in his arm pits?...LOL!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I think YOU know better than your doc whether YOUR son is responsible and ready for contacts!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

This is your time to show him you are willing to do this for him but he needs to show maturity (as much as a 14 yr old has). He needs to make sure his hands are clean & the contact case is cleaned & even the area he will putting them on is cleaned.

My daughter was his age when she asked for them but she was a slob so I told her she needed to mature a bit then we would see. She did it, not as much as I would have liked but better than what it was.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I got my contacts when I was 14 (going into high school) and was awesome! Three of my four kids wear glasses and we've told them when they head into high school we'll get them contacts.

I say he's old enough and if you think he can handle the responsibility, then forget what his doctor says and push for them.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My nephew is 13 & wears contacts. He's been wearing glasses since 10, but at the end of Elementry school decided he wanted to get used to contacts before middle school started. He's been wearing them since, has done a wonder for his confedence & has never had a hygene problem or any problem with them since. I kept on him about them the first 6 months or so, always reminding him about cleaning them, & washing his hands & taking them out before bed time & everything, but he's pretty responsible & has it down now, & never forgot.. I say if that's what your son wants, go for it! Get the one a day/throw away ones at first let him get used to them. He may hate them or love them, but I think he's old enough to decide that regarldess of what his Dr. thinks...

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I have not experienced contacts with a young teenager, however, there are pluses and minuses with contacts. In school, if his eyes do not bother him with contacts, there will be little difficulty. However, if someone around him is smoking, or around a contruction site, cleaning the eyes might require taking the contacts out and putting them back in. The sensitivity to the eyes might require him to have lens solution in his locker, if that is permisible. Wearing contacts for a long period of time takes some getting used to. But, for the most part, I personally, have been wearing contacts for years, haven fallen asleep with them in my eyes; I swim, dive and snorkel with them with no problems.
The change of the structure of the eye for a young person needs to be watched. However, I take a lot of fish oils, when my eyes seem dry and that seems to take care of that issue.
I would probably have both contacts and glasses for the young gentleman. The contacts are certainly a plus for convenience, self-confidence and good parent-teenager relations.....good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

My glasses were very thick and I started contacts at 13 just before the 8th grade. I'd say it depends on the maturity of the teen - some will have no trouble handling the routine cleaning while others just can't handle it. I never had a problem using them and I never lost one. It never hurts to have a back up pair of glasses. If your son is mature and your eye Dr is inflexible and won't budge on his no contacts for young teens policy, it might be time for a new eye Dr.



answers from New York on

If he truly wants them, and in general is a responsible person with good hygiene habits, then he's old enough to begin wearing them. Many girls and boys begin wearing contacts when they start high school. No, you should not push it again at the next visit, your son should ask the questions. After having a talk with the doctor, you, your son, and hubby should make that decision together.



answers from San Antonio on

I wore glasses from the age of 8. My parents got me contacts when I was 13. It was great. I loved not having to wear glasses all the time. It really helped my self-esteem and I became a more outgoing person. Contacts are so much more affordable now than they were then. Because your son wants contacts so badly he will be motivated to care for them properly. He just needs the information. Be prepared that he may lose one now and then, but that happens to adults, too. He will need to wash his hands before handling the contacts or touching his eyes and take them out to clean them according to the instructions. Your eye Dr. needs to realize that every child is different. You are the best judge if your child is ready for this responsibility, not the Dr.

On a side note: I got my vision corrected with lasix 6 years ago and it's like a miracle. I have perfect vision and don't have to worry about glasses or contacts. If anyone is thinking about having it done I would definitely recommend it.



answers from San Antonio on

A lot depends on the kid and their maturity level. If he is pretty responsible, and takes good care of things, then he is probably ready. My younger sister got contacts before HS and she did fine.
My youngest boy, though, is a wreck! Pretty disorganized, can't find things, forgets his retainers at night....he has glasses and is 16. He wants contacts (he needs glasses for computer work and to see the whiteboard in class) and I said, "No way! Show me you are responsible with your glasses first." I'm still waiting.....



answers from Houston on

I got my first pair of contact lenses at age 15 in 1981! My parents biggest concern, besides the cost, was that I would be uneasy touching my eyeballs! I am 44 and just got my first multi-focal lenses this year. I have only worn my glasses at night, first thing in the morning and maybe when I am home sick for 29 years. Like another poster said, contacts and their care are way different now than they were back then. You had to clean them with a cleaner and rinse with saline and heat sterilize every night and enyzyme once a week. I was so good at doing this that I could almost make 2 years on a single pair!

Of course by the end of the two years, they had built up much deposits in spite of weekly enyzyming, that when I got a new pair it was like heaven. WIth my newest pair this year, I use Clear Care. Just take each out and directly put on the little dome of the special case. Rinse for 5 seconds and put in vial with the Clear Care solution. Then 6 hours later, they are good to go. And because they were put on the domes in the correct position, then they go back in your eyes in the correct position. No unnecessary handling to get fingerprints and turn inside out. This has reduced most of the chances of tearing them. The old days contact lenses were a much bigger pain to care for. And they cost so much you had to get insurance on them!

I think if your son has been wanting them, then suggest he educate himself on what all is needed. They are much easier to care for now and I would find an eye doctor that would prescribe them. Sounds like your current one has a narrow way of thinking. (No offense of course.)

Good luck in whatever you decide.

K. Howell



answers from Houston on

My daughter got them at age 12. The doctor recommended we start with dailies so we did. She now wears the monthlies, but tends to lose them so we may be going back to dailies. If your son wants them, he should have the chance to try them. I would definitely push the issue or find another doctor. If it does not work out he can always go back to glasses.



answers from Houston on

I, too, have worn glasses since I was 5 and switched to contacts when I was 14, right before starting my freshman year of high school. There was never any problem keeping them clean or having them cause any issues. I loved having contacts in high school and not having to walk around in glasses all the time. Your doctor's advice seems a bit odd, since at this age, he should be mature enough to take care of them properly.



answers from Houston on

Take him to another Dr. The very idea of not prescibing contacts to a teenager is, well, stupid.
I got my very first pair of contacts in the 7th grade. My mother very simply said, "take care of them or lose them"....THAT was enough for me. I am 39 now. Contacts these days ARE NOT like they were in the 80's. Back then, you got one or two pair for a huge price. These days, you get disposible ones for a fraction of the cost. Your best bet? talk to another Dr and some other adult that has expierience with them.

Good Luck!!



answers from Kansas City on

I was 14 and a freshman in highschool. My parents worried about the hygiene aspect too but we came to the agreement that if I didn't take care of them they would be taken away. With my coke bottle vision that wasn't an option for me! So, I took care of them. I bet with the threat of losing them he'll take care of them.

As for the doc, maybe you need to find a doc more willing to work with you and your son.



answers from Seattle on

ALL of my friends and most of the people I knew had contacts in highschool, except myself and one other girl and 3 guys.

I graduated HS 14 years ago, and the school had over 500 kids and I STILL REMEMBER exact numbers. One of the things I did when I "ran away to join the circus" (aka enlisted in the military at 17) was to take off my glasses and back over them with the mini-van the day I took myself to the airport for bootcamp. LOL... as a matter of fact, while I was Rx'd "BCGs" (birth control glasses) in bootcamp, I wore my contacts every day except for gas-chamber day. And have ever since. I keep thinking I need to get a pair of glasses in case of emergency, but it took me 10 years to even consider the idea, the "glasses-war" had been so heated.

GOD I hated those glasses.

Of course, they weren't the reason I left, but only one reason amongst hundreds of examples of how my parents didn't trust or allow me to make any decisions on my own. It didn't matter how strongly I felt about something. On a side note... home on leave with my contacts in, people literally didn't recognize me. And I got the "Whoa... you're, like, pretty." comment so often it made me realize that teen boys are pretty STUPID and it's probably better I didn't date any of them after all.

And... as you say... now many children are getting them (and doing WELL with them!) in gradeschool. Contacts have come a *long* way from the ones in the 70's & 80's. Even the 90's. You don't even have to clean them anymore if you get dailywear or extended wear disposables. And many allow nearly as much o2 to the cornea as going without

So while I'm *obviously* biased... i say "go for it" or get a new doctor.



answers from Washington DC on

Get a second opinion. My daughter's eye doctor prescribed contacts for her when she turned 14, just before high school. It made her very happy and boosted her confidence. It took her a little time to get used to putting them in and taking them out, but she caught on quickly. She's also very mindful of caring for them properly. I'm sure your son can handle the responsibility.



answers from San Antonio on

My 14 yr old daughter wanted them also. I got them 2 yrs ago but I went to an Opthamologist for her 1st appt. It cost more-$300 but I wanted to have an expert opinion. She has had them 2 yrs now and no problem-even with a stigmatism. She is now wearing Air Optix brand which she says feel better on her eyes. I don't remember the brand last year. This is a time when you really have to communicate with your son and the dr. to get the right fit. I told her I never wore them so it is totally up to her to let me/the dr. know if all is well.
The 1st year, I did not get her new glasses due to the cost of the contacts. The 2nd year, we went to a regular dr and it was not as expensive so I got her both glasses and contacts.
My daughter loves that now she can wear cool sunglasses-we discovered that she actually needs them because her glasses were always the changing type in the sun and the 1st time she walked outside in the sun with contacts was a surprise for her!! lol
I notice you do live in EP with lots of dirt-make sure you ask the dr. about drops to keep his eyes moisturized. Those huge orange clouds in that area may be his only problem.



answers from Houston on

Three kids. Boy got them at 15 after NEVER wearing his glasses. Daughter #1 got them at 11 and wore them at first but then quit until she started 6th grade. Daughter #2 got them at 11 and wears nothing but. No one has had problems. They wear the two week kind and are very good about keeping up with when to throw them out. My only complaint is occasionally, because they are kids, they will tear one that is only a few days old and it has to be thrown out. But better that than a scratched cornea. So we go through a 6month supply in 5 months. Not a biggie.if your child is at all responsible and more important, MOTIVATED, he will do just fine. If this dr won't prescribe them, find one that will.



answers from St. Louis on

I started contacts when I was 15-ok I'm a girl but I just don't see the difference. Yes you must keep your hands clean and try not to touch your eyes or rub. You might want to ask an eye doctor about this that perscribes to young people. Again when I was young I did lose them lots-you just can't take them out in the otside air-anything can blow them away or also in the bathrooms at school--no drain cover at the sink. So it could be something that he could go in the office or maybe they would have a special room he could borrow when he has to "work" on them. Some Drs. only want to have them worn a few hours a day for several months--that might also depend on weather they are hard/gas permable or the flexible kind. If you do get them for him get the insurance!!!! It helps pay for the lost ones!!!!! I still carry that--many years later and occasionally do lose one. Good luck Mom and if he does do sports he might want to keep a pair of glasses just in case.



answers from Houston on

I started wearing glasses at 10 and got contacts for my 15th birthday. It was one of the best things my mother ever did for me. My self-esteem improved dramatically. I think I would've been fine having them a year earlier, and I probably would've had a better HS experience if I hadn't spent that first year as a nerdy 'four eyes.' The teen years are hard enough, do your son a favor and go for the contacts!!!


answers from San Antonio on

I was 15 years old, when I started wearing contacts. Check around and find an optometrist who prescribes contacts and/or glasses.

I wore contacts up until the age of 42. Now, I wear glasses. I've been thinking about going back to a more comfortable contact lense.

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