Many who can easily see items at a close distance without glasses find they cannot do so as they age. Typically, close vision starts to deteriorate around age 40 and, by the mid 40’s, most adults will have a change in their near vision. This is the normal maturation of the eyes, a condition called presbyopia, which is the inability to focus on near objects due to the natural aging of the eye. Nearsighted people can often remove their glasses to see up close, while farsighted people need a stronger lens to see up close. As we grow older and need stronger lens prescriptions or “powers,” we might assume that the glasses themselves have made our eyes or vision worse over time. This is a common misperception.
Let’s look at the facts…..
“Good” vision is subject to personal interpretation. With many types of refractive or vision errors (especially farsightedness and astigmatism) there are often little to no symptoms. Many of our patients have tolerated “imperfect vision” for years before getting glasses. NOT wearing glasses does not harm the eyes (regardless of what our mothers told us). However, eye fatigue, eye irritations, wrinkles around the eyes from squinting or straining, and headaches often occur in those who choose not to wear glasses.
Once patients finally receive a proper prescription pair of glasses, the most common report we hear is “how much better the eyes feel”, as well as the vision clarity. However, it is common to assume that the vision is worse for this reason: with the glasses being worn, the eyes are perfectly relaxed (ie, no more strain) then, upon removing the glasses, we (initially) notice the stark difference in our vision until our eyes return to their “strained” condition to compensate.
Bottom line: Glasses do not, and cannot, weaken eyesight. There is no permanent vision change caused by wearing glasses…..they are simply focusing light to perfectly relax the eyes in order to provide the sharpest vision possible.
So, it is a personal choice to go without glasses and see “pretty good, but strained” or to wear them and see “perfectly clear, without the strain”. Wearing glasses makes your vision clearer, but it does not have an impact on your actual prescription. Our eyeglass prescription will continue to change as we get older, regardless of whether we wear glasses every day or not.