Myth: Wearing Glasses Makes Your Eyes Worse (Here's Why Your Vision Might Deteriorate)

6 sources cited
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Do Glasses Weaken Your Eyes and Vision?

No, glasses will not weaken your vision because they're designed to help you see better. 

If you notice your vision is worsening, it could be due to the natural aging process or other factors unrelated to eyeglasses.

However, in children with low myopia (shortsightedness), prolonged use of eyeglasses or wearing glasses with a full correction may worsen their myopia.1

Where to Buy Glasses + Contacts

Best Overall: Warby Parker

Fastest Delivery: EyeBuyDirect

Also Great: Liingo

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4 Myths About Glasses and Visual Health

There are several misconceptions about the effects of glasses on your visual health. Let's debunk some of them:

1. Your Vision Will Worsen if You Wear Eyeglasses

Some people believe that the magnifying power of eyeglass lenses can cause eyeball muscles to weaken or make the refractive error worse. The fact is, your refractive error may worsen with time with or without glasses. 

Others believe that forcing defective eyes to focus will strengthen the muscles and improve vision. This is far from the truth. Uncorrected vision will strain your eyes and can accelerate vision issues.

2. An Incorrect Prescription Can Damage Your Eyes

This is untrue, especially for adults. When you get a new glasses prescription, your eyes may need a few days to adjust.2 It will be impossible to adjust if your prescription is too weak or too strong. You may experience prolonged eye strain, headaches, or even dizziness in this case. However, this will not damage your vision.

3. Glasses Can Make Your Eyes Dependent on Them

Glasses correct near or distant blurred vision. As you get used to clear vision, you may want to wear your eyeglasses more frequently to have the same experience. However, this does not mean your eyes will develop a dependency on glasses. 

4. Poor Fitting Frames Can Damage Your Eyes

Your eye doctor will ensure your glasses are precisely sized for your face. Your vision won't be harmed if there is a misalignment. You'll only need to have them adjusted for greater comfort and visual clarity. 

What Causes Vision to Worsen?

Several factors may cause your vision to worsen. Let's discuss them in detail below:

Age

As you age, your eye muscles weaken, and your eye lens loses flexibility. This may cause a decline in visual acuity. According to research, most people experience a visual decline at around age 41 to 60 and may have trouble seeing things up close.3 This condition is known as presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness.

Genetics

Genetics play a role in many eye conditions occurring in children and adults. Although research is limited, studies have found some genes associated with poor vision that worsen over time. Some genetically linked vision problems include:

  • Nearsightedness
  • Farsightedness
  • Macular degeneration
  • Glaucoma
  • Color blindness
  • Retinitis pigmentosa (progressive decline of the retina)

Some conditions, such as glaucoma and strabismus (ocular misalignment), could be influenced by multiple factors, including genetics.4

Sun Damage

Ultraviolet (UV) damage to the eyes can increase the risk of cataract development and macular degeneration. These conditions can worsen your vision over time. Unfortunately, most damage occurs during early development because children’s eyes have not yet developed the same capability as an adult’s eyes to filter out UV light. 

Common symptoms of photokeratitis (sunburn of the eye) include:

You can prevent sun damage by wearing quality sunglasses and appropriate headgear.

Presence of Cataracts

Aging and other medical conditions may cause the proteins and fibers within the eye lenses to break down and clump together, clouding the lenses. This condition is known as cataracts

Over time, the clouding becomes dense, causing progressive blurriness as more light is blocked from getting through to the retina.

Digital Eye Strain

The prevalence of digital products and LED technology has made it hard to avoid screens. Unfortunately, looking at your computer, television, or phone screen for extended periods can lead to eye strain. Straining your eye muscles can worsen your vision over time. 

Immediate symptoms may include

  • Dry eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Itchiness
  • Tired eyes

To prevent eye strain, adhere to the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes of screen time, look away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Lifestyle (Poor Diet, Lack of Exercise, and Smoking)

Your eyes, like your other organs, require nutrients. You can prevent vision from worsening by eating a balanced diet that includes foods such as carrots, green vegetables, fruits, salmon, eggs, and plenty of water, which have essential nutrients for eye health.5

Adequate sleep and regular exercise can also significantly impact your eye health and prevent long-term vision problems. 

If you smoke, quitting or reducing frequency will prevent or reduce the risk of eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye syndrome, all of which cause progressive vision loss.

Other Factors to Consider

Below are some important facts to consider if you're worried about the effect of wearing eyeglasses.

Should You Wear Glasses All the Time?

There's no concern if you wear your glasses all the time as long as they feel comfortable and make your daily tasks easier. However, there are situations where you'll need to remove them. 

For example, if your glasses are for reading, removing them when not undertaking a reading task is most appropriate. 

Also, unless your lenses are designed for UV protection, remove them while outdoors and replace them with quality UV sunglasses.

Do Reading Glasses Make Your Eyes Worse?

No. Reading glasses will not worsen your vision, no matter how often you wear them. However, you may get slight headaches or eye strain if you use them for other activities not related to reading, such as driving. 

If your vision worsens, it could be due to the normal aging process affecting your vision. This is why you may need a prescription change as you get older.

Are Your Glasses the Right Prescription?

It's normal for your eyes and brain to adjust to a new glasses prescription for a few days to two weeks. However, if after two weeks you still experience the following, your prescription might be wrong:

  • You have extremely blurry vision
  • Your eyes are straining excessively
  • You have frequent headaches
  • You feel dizzy and nauseous

If you suspect a wrong prescription, consult your optometrist for an accurate one. 

Can Eyeglasses Cause Eye Infections?

Dirty eyeglasses are a reservoir of infection-causing bacteria. Common infections related to dirty eyeglasses include:

  • Pink eye
  • Blepharitis ( inflammation of the eyelids)
  • Bacterial keratitis
  • Conjunctivitis

To be safe, clean your corrective lenses regularly using a microfiber cloth and lens spray.

Is Wearing Glasses Over Contact Lenses Dangerous?

It’s okay to wear your glasses and contact lenses at the same time. Most people who combine the two do so to fix multiple vision issues. Some people wear contact lenses to improve distance vision and glasses to improve reading ability.

Summary

  • Some people believe that wearing glasses can make your eyesight worse. The truth is that glasses improve your vision and cause no further damage even when worn all the time.
  • However, even with the help of glasses, your vision may deteriorate due to aging, genetics, lifestyle, sun damage, or the presence of eye disease.
  • Kids with low myopia may experience worsening vision if they wear glasses all the time or if they wear glasses with full correction.
  • If you experience persistent issues with your vision, consult your doctor for an accurate lens prescription.

Best Places to Buy Glasses

Best Overall

Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.

Also Great

Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.

Best on a Budget

EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.

Best Places to Buy Contacts

Best Overall

1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.

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Also Great

GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.

6 Cited Research Articles
  1. Optometrist Network.“Why Is My Child’s Myopia Worsening?,” 2020.
  2. Optometrist Network. “How to Adjust to New Glasses,” 2021.
  3. American Optometric Association. “Adult Vision: 41 to 60 Years of Age.”  
  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Strabismus genetics across a spectrum of eye misalignment disorders,” 2014.
  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. “36 Fabulous Foods to Boost Eye Health,” 2020.
  6. American Optometric Association. “Myopia (nearsightedness).”
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