The teen, the eye tests and the glasses

I sometimes think that it would be easier to endlessly walk into a brick wall than be a parent.  In fact, at the moment, it does feel like I am walking into a brick wall, several times a day.

I guess that is the joy (if you can call it that) of living with a teenager.

Coming back from rugby training a few weeks ago, the teen mentioned to me that his left eye had been aching for a few days.  He has a slight squint in his left eye, so I said to him I would book him in for an eye test and get it checked out.

We have already been through numerous appointments to an optometrist with his squint, but as treatment was an operation that wouldn’t guarantee the squint would improve and could make it worse, we decided to leave it and let him make up his mind when he was older.  It isn’t awful and you only really notice it when he is really tired.

When he mentioned the ache, I knew the eye test was overdue but imagine how awful I felt when the optician said it was four years since his last eye test.  Cue one of those moments when you want the floor to swallow you up after you have collected your ‘worst mum of the year’ award.

Within a few minutes of the test starting, I knew what was coming.  Sadly the teen didn’t.  I mouthed to him that he may well need glasses.  Cue the absolutely no way face from him.  I mouthed back that we could talk about contact lenses.  This was met with a shrug of general indifference. 

Sure enough, his left eye is pretty weak and not only is there a squint but also astigmatism so the vision in that eye is much worse than the right eye. He has me to thank for that genetic malfunction, my eyes are exactly the same.

He was not happy.  When the optician guided us out to choose glasses, I was quietly subjected to a tirade of reasons why they were wrong.  He was still recovering from having lights shone in his eyes, he was tired, etc.  No way was he going to wear glasses.  

He reluctantly tried on a few pairs but picked the first pair and said there was no point spending time or money on glasses as he was not going to wear them.  The poor assistant who was helping didn’t know where to look and I was quite embarrassed.  By this point, the teen just wanted to leave. But of course, there is fitting and measuring to do before they can order the glasses.  I did wonder if he might spontaneously combust. When they mentioned a second pair or sunglasses, he just glared at me and I quietly said no thank you.

When we left, he stropped off to see his girlfriend and was not willing to give the subject anymore discussion. 

When he later came home, he had given it some thought and said that he did understand that he needed them (although he was still adamant that it was their fault for shining lights and blowing air into his eyes before the test) but that he might wear the glasses at home but no way was he ever wearing them at school. 

A week later, the glasses arrived and I think they really suit him in spite of the lack of time spent choosing them.  He has worn them a little and some of his friends have said how much they suit him, so he has actually left the house wearing them a couple of times. 

The contact lens trial was the next traumatic event.  I think he thought it was going to be easy to put lenses in and take them out.  Sadly, I know from experience that this isn’t the case, particularly to begin with.  He really struggled with it.  I felt so sorry for him, he spent an hour in the optician trying to get them in and out and his eyes were so bloodshot, I was almost at the point of telling him to stop and that this wasn’t going to work.  To be fair to him, he didn’t give up and eventually did the whole process three times.

A couple of weeks on and he now has three months worth of daily contact lenses which are sitting in the kitchen unopened and his glasses have hardly been worn this week.  Every time I mention it, I get the dramatic eye roll but I will keep nagging as I want him to realise the importance of looking after his eyes.  I know that contact lens wearing gets easier over time and he just needs to be patient with them, but generally, teenagers and patience aren’t something that come together. 

As for me, you might find me walking into a few brick walls as I am sure it is easier than parenting a teenager. 

The teen, the eye tests and the glasses



  1. August 14, 2018 / 10:35 am

    Guess what? I can really relate to this!
    My younger son has been wearing glasses since he was 5 and switched to contact lenses (with none of the problems your son had) at 11. But around the age of 13, he started skipping a few days with the contact lenses. And now we’ve got to the point where he refuses point blank to wear the contact lenses. But he certainly won’t wear his glasses. The optometrist told us teenagers are quite good at compensating, but it just means their eyes are under constant strain and they never have time to rest them. This week I’m going to start getting him to wear his contact lenses again for a few hours a day, with the aim to get him wearing them full time by the time he goes back to school.
    My 17yo first needed glasses just over two years ago. He had the same horror your boy did. But the optician told him (and me) about the importance of getting ones he likes – whatever the financial cost. So he has a very expensive pair of cool glasses that he enjoys wearing. He always wears them when he’s going out, even to his prom, but often forgets to wear them for school, when he actually needs them!

    • Nikki Thomas
      August 14, 2018 / 11:21 am

      That’s really interesting and I bet the amount of time they spend looking at a small screen causes some of the strain too. I offered to pay for designer glasses for the teen but he was in such a strop, he wouldn’t even look at them. In retrospect, I should have left the opticians and gone back after he had had time to calm down

  2. Beverley Pope
    August 15, 2018 / 10:13 am

    This could have been written by me ! My sons eyesight deteriorated at the age of 15 and eventually I managed to get him to the opticians at 16 . No surprise he needed glasses but was adamant that he wouldn’t wear them. Luckily for us the optician was extremely understanding and patiently helped him choose a pair that were deemed acceptable. A week later he had a contact lens fittIng and although he wears them most of the time he does now wear his glasses if he’s at home and in the evenings. I’m not sure how old your son is but the reason I managed to get him to eventually visit the opticians was pointing out that he wouldn’t be able to have driving lessons until his eyesight was sorted out .

    • Nikki Thomas
      August 15, 2018 / 10:26 am

      My son is 14 and he is so aware of how he looks and that is the thing that is stopping him from wearing his glasses. The contact lenses are in and on his shelf and I now have to convince him to wear them. I have mentioned driving to him and that his eyes will get worse if he doesn’t take the strain off them. It is a real worry but hopefully I am starting to get through to him. Thank you for commenting it is a relief to know I’m not the only one going through this

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