The public has a variety of misconceptions about eye care. In this social media-driven world we live in, there are so many businesses and individuals that have your attention. Some will have your best interest in mind, while others see an opportunity to take advantage of a billion dollar industry. It is important that you get your information, technology and education on your health from a trusted resource. The “Eye Care Myths – Debunked” series will help you sort through the facts and increase your knowledge on eye health.
Myth 3: “Wearing glasses will make my eyes worse.”
This is one of the most common patient misconceptions. Patients often believe that if you’re prescribed glasses and start to wear them, it will negatively impact your vision and prescription going forward. “I don’t want my eyes to become dependent on the glasses” and “If I start wearing glasses now, it will make my vision worse and I’ll have to wear them all the time” are just a couple of the patient concerns we hear on a regular basis.
Let’s get this out of the way… Glasses do not weaken your eyes, they don’t make your eyes lazy, and they certainly don’t make your prescription change at an enhanced rate. There are 2 primary factors to address here; what glasses or prescription correction accomplishes for a patient and how prescription changes over time.
“If my eyes aren’t becoming dependent on my glasses, then why is it less clear than it used to be when I remove the glasses?” If you have never worn prescription, your eyes have gotten used to seeing the world around you, perhaps with some effort that goes almost unnoticed. Now, if you are given a prescription that makes it easier for you to see and makes everything clearer than it ever was before, removing that relief and returning to the old, glasses-free vision seems borderline intolerable. That does not mean your glasses have made your eyes worse. It’s just that your eyes didn’t realize how clear things could be. Now that they have seen optimal clarity and ease of vision, it seems like a larger discrepancy to go back to seeing without the correction.
“Ever since I started wearing glasses, it seems like every time I come in to have my vision checked, the prescription gets worse.” This is a fair an obvious correlation between wearing glasses and vision worsening, but the glasses are NOT to blame. There are vision conditions that get worse on their own, independent of glasses wear. Presbyopia (a condition that affects near vision and everyone starts to experience in their 40s) and Myopia (nearsightedness) are the two most common culprits of this misconception. Presbyopia is a gradual loss of the ability to accommodate (the way the eye magnifies things at reading and computer distance). Over a course of approximately 20 years, the ability to accommodate slowly evaporates. This is corrected with a prescription for reading that makes up for that loss of accommodation, but the presbyopia will progress whether you correct for it or not. It is an aging process that is not sped up or slowed down by glasses wear. Similarly, for children with myopia, the condition tends to progress throughout the teenage years and often into the mid-to-late twenties. There are factors that affect myopia progression and proper correction does not slow the progression, but it also does not enhance the progression rate.
Now you can rest assured, knowing that glasses and/or contact lenses will not contribute to your eyes or vision “getting worse.” Enjoy the burden that has been removed from visual system!
Jared Most, OD