Eye doctor for teen who needs glasses, but wants contact first

A few years back, our pediatrician told my then 13 year old that he should have his eyes checked.  We went to UC Berkeley's Pediatric Eye Center and the doctor just told my son in a matter of fact way that he needed glasses without even considering that this might be a huge blow. (Needless to say, we haven't gone back.)  My son completely fell apart in the appointment, and even though we ended up getting him glasses, he has never worn them and swears he'll only wear contacts.  (He's managed to cope without them largely because he's near sighted and has been home during the pandemic.). Fast forward to now, and we have told him that he cannot even begin to start learning to drive until he gets his vision corrected, and he's now open to seeing another doctor and updating the prescription, but is still adamant that he must start with contacts.  We don't believe he'll be responsible with contacts (e.g., "forgetting" to put them in and even losing them really easily), yet we know he really needs to fix his vision.  Does anyone have an eye doctor who works really well with teens -- especially those who are really sensitive about wearing glasses and who want contacts right away?  We want someone with excellent bedside manner who has a lot of experience working with teens and this kind of situation.  Any/all suggestions would be appreciated!

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Please listen to your teenager and get him contacts! He is no more likely to “lose” his contacts than his glasses but you are much more likely to lose his trust as a parent who listens to and honors their child’s experience. Wearing glasses may really be a big deal for your child and there is no practical way for you to enforce glasses. 

My personal opinion is let the kid get contacts. I think the biggest con for contacts is leaving them in when sleeping which isn't great for eye health. They aren't easily lost and if he forgets to put them in he just won't be able to see. Maybe he is embarrassed about wearing glasses? If that's the case then I can completely understand the preference for contacts.

Both my daughter and I got contacts at 12. Not an issue- especially for her because we got the disposable ones. I think Biotrue will give you a months samples. 

I highly recommend the one day disposable because you don’t have to worry about cleaning, infections etc. 

Vision so much better forgetting to put them in isn’t an issue. Gary Osias is nice but Castro Valley. 

Hello! Eye doctor here. While I appreciate how a teenager may have huge issues with wearing glasses, I would not allow anyone to be fit in contact lenses (CL) without being in glasses first (there are very few exceptions to this rule that involve medical conditions we wouldn’t wish on your kid). The reason is simple and you alluded to it in your email. People who don’t have glasses end up over wearing their contacts. This can result in a sight threatening infection to the eye (google corneal ulcer). Why? If your choices are blurry vision vs over wearing CL, people make bad choices. As a mother of teenagers, let me give you a strategy that may help depending on your teen. No glasses, no CL. Period. Teen wants to drive? Sorry. These are the rules. Now, there can be compromises—only need to wear the glasses at home and not at school. But, must do so every day. Why? The habit needs to be that kid gets home for the day, CL come off, glasses go on. This will be a good habit to get in and will promote good eye health for years to come. Start by educating yourselves (you and teen) on how to properly wear CL, and the consequences of CL abuse. That will help your teen understand the responsibility that must go along with CL wear and the sensible rules you are putting in place to protect their vision. And—here’s another incentive, a scarred eye from CL abuse will make it much more difficult to have LASIK later and may cause them not to be a candidate. (And I can’t offer to be your kid’s eye doc because I work at the place where you had your bad experience—sorry!)

My kiddo, 13, wanted contacts not glasses. We got both, to have glasses for backup. I was sure that contacts were not a good idea due to the chore of putting them in and taking them out. But she was motivated and managed it all very well. We got the daily disposable kind to simplify the care component. With being at home and on screens last year for school she didn’t wear either much at all. Back to school last April she wore the contacts diligently for 6 weeks then declared it was too much work putting them in and taking them out and they were kind of irritating. Now she mostly wears the glasses! She gets compliments. She uses the Contacts for beach or more active days. 
We went to the same eye outfit as you and told them we wanted contacts. They tried out three different styles of contacts to find the most comfortable fit. They helped her practice putting them in and taking them out multiple times. 
A few times she has forgotten to take them out at night then it’s really difficult and uncomfortable the next morning to change them. Her eyes have different prescriptions so she has to track which contact lens goes in which eye. 
So, yes to contacts! My kiddo just turned 14 so driving is a bit away. 
Good Luck! I know I didn’t really answer your question but wanted to share our experience so far. 


It sounds like you don't wear contacts.  They aren't all that difficult to deal with, and if your son is highly motivated to wear them I'm not sure why you don't think he'll not be responsible wearing them.  Let him give them a try!  It will also show him that you respect his opinion on what is best for him.

Not a doctor recommendation, but would like to suggest daily contacts. He can’t lose them, because he puts them in in the morning and takes them out and discards them every night (you’d have to make sure he does—but that’s like anything else, toothbrushing, etc). They are comfortable and low-maintenance and would like be a very good fit for a forgetful teen. It is more waste, but companies would recycle the packaging for free. And the cost spread is quite high in % but not in actual cost ($200-400 annually, depending on the contacts type and your insurance). Good luck!

What a challenge! And kudos to you for being sensitive to your child's distress.

I had a similar situation with both of my children in that they wanted to wear contacts rather than glasses, particularly one who needs bifocals and could not adjust to progressive lenses. I live across the bay now, so where we went is perhaps too far for you to consider, but I'll share it nonetheless. I took them to the resident eye doctors at LensCrafters in Menlo Park. Of the three doctors we saw, all did not hesitate to go straight to contacts with glasses as backup, particularly because both play sports. Both now young adults wear AcuVue Oasys daily wear lenses. They are expensive, yet easy for this age group. I use my FSA funds to pay for them pre-tax. My kids have been wearing these contacts for years without any adverse incidents or infections, even when they have occasionally forgotten to take them out before swimming, showering, or sleeping (definitely not advisable!). 

Good luck!

Dr. Sakai at Rockridge Optometry is great with my teens (who have been seeing her since they were pre-teens). My son has contacts AND glasses - you need glasses for when you take out your contacts in the evening or for first thing when you wake up! - and he has daily disposable contacts which really removes the issues of losing or cleaning them. If your son really wants contacts he might surprise you with being very responsible about them; this was our experience. 

My son needed vision correction at age 11 and was also very opposed to the idea of glasses. We did get him a pair of glasses as a back up but he wears contacts most of the time and almost exclusively at school. He wears his glasses around the house or when he feels like his eyes need a break. It turns contacts are not hard to get used to and they will usually recommend one time use contacts for kids, which don't require cleaning. If they get lost, no big deal! It took my son just a few tries before he was comfortable putting them in. I also know an 8 year old who wears contacts without any issue and is able to put them in himself. Let him give the contacts a try and then decide if he's responsible enough. I think that once he gets to experience the joy of  seeing the world CLEARLY he'll be very careful to take care of his lenses. We go to the El Cerrito Optometry,  I think Dr Ezumi has good bedside manner.