If you wear glasses, you know there’s nothing better than replacing your old, outdated lenses with an up-to-date prescription and a stylish new pair of frames.
We all know the drill: you get your eyes checked, get a new prescription, choose your frames, and wait a week or so for your new specs to arrive. You get the call, pick up your new glasses, slide them on expecting to see the world in all its crystal clear brilliance…. But woah! Something doesn’t seem quite right.
The truth is new glasses, especially with new prescriptions, don’t always produce the expected outcome right away. It’s actually quite common to experience an adjustment period.
In other words, the new glasses that are designed to help you see better, reduce headaches, and improve your eyes’ stamina and ability to focus can actually produce the opposite effect—at least initially. It’s common to feel like you are wearing the wrong prescription.
We’ve researched the topic to shed some light on the most common concerns of eyewear patients who are getting used to new glasses and answered the most common questions about adjusting to new glasses.
So, let’s start with the first thing you said after putting on your new glasses…
Why do my new glasses feel weird?
Your eyes are complex structures consisting of six major muscles and six major nerves. These muscles and nerves work together to instantaneously regulate light and control impulses that gather and send thousands of images from the retina to your brain. As your eyes change over time, the muscles begin to weaken and the eyeball can actually start to harden. The reduced flexibility may make it more difficult to focus on objects up-close or to switch between seeing up-close and distant objects clearly. Even with glasses, your eyes will often continue to change, requiring new prescriptions in order to see clearly and without discomfort.
Think of a new pair of glasses as a new pair of sneakers. They look great, and are going to help you, but your body needs to adjust to them in order to be effective.
For many, putting on new glasses for the first time causes blurred vision, headaches, and even some distortion. That’s because your brain needs some time to adjust to the new prescription and lenses.
Often, your new prescription will be more powerful, meaning your brain will need to adapt from what it used to know to what you see now. The new lenses might be physically bigger or smaller than your previous lenses, meaning your field of vision while looking through the lenses will be different than before. Again, your eyes and your brain may need some time to adjust.
Can new glasses make you feel dizzy?
Feeling dizzy is the most common complaint people have with new glasses, however, the feeling will be temporary. Reports of feeling dizzy, light-headed, and even nauseous are much more common when adjusting or transitioning to multifocal lenses including bifocals, trifocals, and progressive lenses.
New glasses can often cause a feeling that is very similar to motion sickness. Like the motion sickness you may experience while in a car or on a boat, as your brain works to adjust to the new lenses, it sometimes has trouble recognizing and adapting to the space around your body. This causes conflict between the messages being sent by your inner ear, which controls balance, and your eyes, which obviously control vision. The resulting combination often causes a temporary feeling of being dizzy.
The sensation of feeling dizzy is certainly not what you want, especially when you are trying to read, work, and especially, drive, but the good news is the dizziness associated with new glasses is usually short-lived and should subside in two to three days as your eyes adjust to their “new normal.”
Are your new glasses giving you a headache?
Headaches are another common concern associated with new prescription glasses. In reality, your new lenses are causing your eye muscles to respond differently than they have in the past. Chances are, you wore your former prescription for at least two years. This reaction to new lenses may cause your eyes to strain while they learn to adjust to the new prescription. For most, this adjustment period will take anywhere from 5 to 7-days.
It’s important to understand even a slight adjustment in prescription can result in headaches and eye strain. Again, don’t panic. Your discomfort is most likely a normal reaction to your body adjusting to your new lenses.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to alleviate headaches and be more comfortable as your eyes adjust:
Stick with your new glassesIt’s important to resist the temptation to switch back to your old glasses. Remember, your headache is the result of your eyes straining to adjust to your new lenses. It’s best to wear your new glasses as much as possible to speed-up your adjustment period.
Give your eyes some restYour eye muscles, like any muscles, will tire when strained for long periods of time. When you feel a headache coming on, or even if your eyes just feel tired, take your new glasses off and close your eyes and give them a rest for a few minutes.
Take ibuprofen or an OTC pain relieverAn over-the-counter pain reliever may help alleviate minor headaches experienced during your adjustment phase.
Could your new prescription damage your eyes?
Though it’s possible your new prescription will cause you some slight discomfort as your eyes adjust, it’s extremely unlikely your new prescription lenses are causing damage to your eyes.
A new prescription, be it stronger or weaker, will feel a bit weird and take some getting used to, but there is no evidence of danger to your vision. According to the Mayo Clinic, eyeglasses affect vision by changing the light rays received by our eyes; they do not change any part of the eye itself. At the very worst, a new prescription—even if it were to be an incorrect prescription—will not damage your eyes.
How long does it take to adjust to new glasses?
Getting used to new glasses depends on numerous factors, including the type of lenses, the strength of your new prescription, and the current health of your eyes.
Adjusting to a new pair of single-vision lenses typically takes about a week, if they are being worn every day. Wearing glasses just for reading or only when working on a computer could extend the adjustment time up to two weeks.
On the other hand, transitioning to multifocal lenses, like progressives, tend to require longer periods of time for your eyes to adjust. Most optometrists recommend expecting a full two-week adjustment period to fully acclimate to progressive lenses.
When should you call your eye doctor?
Unless you are experiencing migraines or debilitating dizziness, most experts agree you should allow for a two-week adjustment period before calling your eye doctor. Once you do reach out to your provider, your eye doctor will want to double-check your prescription and ensure the lenses you currently have are appropriate for you.
Remember to wear your new glasses as much as possible to accelerate the adjustment period.