A friend recently asked me what the most common question that I get from patients is. The first query that popped into my mind is “If I start wearing glasses, will they make my eyes worse (or will they make my eyes better?)” I felt like this was a helpful topic for Envision’s new blog as it comes up so often.
This is an important question. I, for one, wouldn’t want to do anything that made my vision worse, and yet would use glasses if it could improve my vision.
Countless studies using years of research have been performed to answer this question. The short answer is “No.” Research from evidence-based medicine (the most credible type) tells us that glasses help us see better and reduce eye strain during visually-demanding activities, but have no long-term consequence on eyeglass prescription strength, for better or worse.
There are several reasons for people thinking glasses made their vision worse. First, take the example of a person who is accustomed to blur, then gets glasses and later removes them after a few months. His/her perception is that the blurriness is worse than it was before glasses were used to begin with. In reality, because our brains are so good at adapting, it is only our perception that has changed. If that same person didn’t use the glasses for a few days, the perception of vision before glasses ever were used would return.
Another reason for thinking glasses make a prescription worse is because nearsighted Rx’s increase as a function of age till about the mid 20’s. As a person develops and grows, so does the prescription in many cases. In addition, around age 40, a condition called Presbyopia sets in, which causes an incremental increase in near vision blur till about age 60. It is easy to imagine a person who has never had to wear glasses until 40 to then assume it was the glasses that made the eyes “weaker” as his/her need for presription increases as the years role by.
Put simply, you don’t have to worry about your prescription increasing if you wear glasses. You will see better, more comfortably and work more efficiently if you wear glasses as prescribed.
To learn more, I invite you to read this article I found online from the Univ of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. It is easy to understand and discusses this and other “eye myths” as well: http://www.agingeye.net/visionbasics/visionmyths.php
Any additional comments or questions out there? What about personal comments about your prescription change over time?
Lastly, I want to ecourage our reader’s input, so if you have any topic you would like me to cover in future entries, please let me know.
Larry Golson, OD