Do you often catch yourself squinting at fine print, computer screens, or street signs and wonder, “Do I need glasses?” If so, you’re not alone.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, over 150 million people in the United States use corrective eyewear.1 That's nearly half the population.
Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they need glasses. There were approximately 702 million cases of distance and near vision impairment caused by uncorrected refractive errors worldwide in 2007.2
If you think you might need glasses, the best thing to do is to schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor. Read on to learn about the most common signs you might need them.
14 Signs You Might Need Glasses
You may need prescription glasses if you experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
1. Blurred Vision
Blurry vision can manifest in many ways. You may have trouble reading or recognizing faces. Or, you may need to hold your phone at a distance to see it.
These all could be signs of a vision problem that needs treatment with glasses or contact lenses.
2. Frequent Squinting
Squinting is another common sign that you may need glasses.
By squinting, you’re adjusting the amount of light entering your eye. This can help make images clearer. Wearing glasses can improve your vision, so you don’t need to squint.
Not all headaches are signs of poor eyesight. However, some headaches result from your eyes trying too hard to focus.
If you experience frequent headaches, especially after working at a computer or looking at a screen, a pair of glasses might help.
4. Eyestrain and Fatigue
Eyestrain and eye fatigue are usually caused by the intense use of your eyes. Common causes include long-distance driving and spending too much time on the computer (computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain).
However, it may indicate that your eyes are having difficulty focusing. If you find your eyes straining frequently or in situations where they didn’t before, it could mean you need glasses.
5. Watery Eyes
Watery eyes can be a sign of vision problems. But it’s also a common symptom of other conditions, such as dry eyes and allergies.
If you’re concerned about watery eyes, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
6. Difficulty Reading, Texting, or Doing Computer Work
If you get headaches, eye strain, or fatigue from using digital screens, it could mean a couple of things.
You may be experiencing digital eye strain. It could also be an underlying vision issue. If you find yourself holding your phone or reading material at arm's length or have difficulty focusing, it could be a sign of an uncorrected refractive error.
Seeing halos around lights is a common symptom of vision problems. You may experience them when looking at lightbulbs or headlights in the dark. They may indicate astigmatism, cataracts, or another night vision issue.
8. Eye Pressure
If you feel pressure building up behind your eyes, it may be a sign of glaucoma or other eye conditions. Eye pressure is treatable, but it’s definitely a sign that you should schedule an eye exam.
9. Double Vision
10. Poor Night Vision
Difficulty seeing at night is a common sign of vision impairment. Many people don’t notice, as seeing is obviously more difficult at night. You may find yourself squinting more or having trouble seeing roads or signs at night.
11. Distorted Vision or Wavy Vision
If certain objects, such as shades or blinds, look wavy or distorted, it could be a sign of deteriorating eye health. Sometimes objects will look like they are underwater, bent, or misshapen.
Tell your eye doctor if lines appear distorted or wavy.
12. Trouble Adjusting from Dark to Light
Difficulty transitioning from dark to light environments (and vice versa) is another sign of visual impairment.
If it takes your eyes longer than normal to adjust to changes in brightness, it may be time to schedule an eye exam.
13. Trouble Recognizing Faces
If you have difficulty recognizing familiar faces, it may be a sign of myopia (nearsightedness). People with myopia have poor distance vision. This can be corrected with glasses, contacts, or surgery.
14. Rubbing Your Eyes
Excessive eye rubbing can signify many vision problems. It could be an infection or a piece of debris. It may also result from eye fatigue or strain, which might require treatment.
Common Vision Problems that Require Glasses
These are some of the most common conditions that can make you need a pair of glasses:
Refractive errors are common eye disorders. They occur when the eye has trouble bending (refracting) light that enters the eye. This causes difficulty focusing. The most common symptom of refractive errors is blurred vision.
Myopia is when your eye’s focusing power is too strong. This makes it difficult to see objects far away. There are two causes of myopia:
- Your eyeball is longer than average
- Your cornea (the clear covering in front of your eye) is too steep
Myopia affects more than 34 million Americans over the age of 40.1
Hyperopia is when your eyes focus images too far behind your retina. This makes seeing things up close difficult. Causes of farsightedness include:
- Your eyeball is shorter than average
- Your cornea is too flat
Over 14 million Americans age 40 and older are hyperopic.1
Presbyopia (Age-Related Farsightedness)
Presbyopia is a decrease in your ability to see near objects as you age. It usually starts around age 40. The stiffening of your natural lens causes presbyopia.
Astigmatism is when the cornea or lens of the eye is unevenly curved. It causes blurry vision when looking at near and distant objects. Astigmatism occurs in about 1 in 3 people and can occur with myopia or hyperopia at the same time.1
Can You Have 20/20 Vision and Still Need Glasses?
Yes, it is possible to have 20/20 vision and still need corrective lenses. 20/20 vision isn’t the same as perfect vision. It means you have normal visual acuity.
You can have 20/20 vision and still experience problems with:
- Peripheral vision
- Depth perception
- Color vision
- Movement detection
- Eye coordination
These, along with other factors, such as your eye health, make up your ability to see clearly.
How Do Eye Doctors Know If You Need Glasses?
The only way to know if you need glasses is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. An eye doctor will determine whether you need glasses or other vision correction and guide you through your options.
During an eye exam, you can expect your optometrist or ophthalmologist to:
- Measure your visual acuity with a vision chart
- Evaluate your eye muscle movement by watching your eyes while they follow a target
- See how well your eyes work together by covering one eye at a time while you focus on a target
- Measure your eye pressure with a tonometer
- Evaluate your eye health by using lights or imaging to check the front and inside of each eye
- Perform a refraction test to check your prescription
How Can I Check My Eyesight at Home?
A home eye exam is not a substitute for a comprehensive vision test by an eye care provider. However, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has directions for Home Vision Tests for Children and Adults.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of common vision problems can help determine if you need eyeglasses. Blurry vision, squinting, and difficulty adjusting to darkness are all signs that you might benefit from wearing glasses.
Some symptoms, like double vision and wavy vision, can be due to a serious eye condition that may lead to vision loss without treatment. Schedule a comprehensive eye exam if you experience any of these symptoms.
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