Senses working overtime.
January 13, 2011 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Help me see with glasses!

Thanks to this very motivating AskMe, I finally had an eye exam and got my first pair of glasses — at the ripe old age of 26. It's not exactly a weak prescription, but it could have been worse: –3.25/–2.75. My vision with glasses is intoxicating! I can see objects at a distance! Thank you, thank you, MetaFilter.

I just have a couple of questions about wearing glasses. Also, I'd love to know if these issues are something I should talk to my doctor about, in case my prescription or lenses need adjustment.

First, when wearing glasses, I have some difficulty focusing on objects close-up. I can bring things into focus at approximately 50 cm away, but it feels a bit like trying to get one of those "magic eye" pictures to work. The closer the object, the stronger the feeling of visual strain. For example, if I put on my glasses, I can easily read the text I'm typing now — but the discomfort is substantial. If I peer over the rims at the text, my eyes "hunt" for focus for about a second, and then the text snaps into focus and I can read normally and without discomfort.

Second, if I take off my glasses after wearing them for more than a few minutes, my vision seems temporarily worse. I'm not a believer in the "glasses ruin vision" notion or the like. I've also read explanations that say that it's an illusory feeling — that my normal, blurry vision feels worse after a while of "corrected to 20/20." No. My vision is demonstrably worse — there are signs I can read without glasses, but not immediately after removing glasses.

So: features or bugs?
posted by Nomyte to Health & Fitness (24 answers total)
How long have you had your glasses? They likely will take time to adjust to. I can't speak as someone who started wearing glasses as an adult and how that might be to adjust to (I've had them all of my life with some periods of not wearing them in my 20s), but I do know that every time I get a new script it feels weird and unpleasant at first, but after give or take a week of daily wearing I get used to it. If you just got them, I say give it some time (1-2 weeks) and see how you feel. If you are still having issues then, talk to whoever prescribed them.
posted by katy song at 5:04 PM on January 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a similar prescription to yours. My experience is also similar in these two respects. I think your second issue is just your eyes adjusting.

As for your first issue, I find it slightly more comfortable to read books without glasses. For computer screens, they are far enough away that it's easiest with glasses. I assume this is just because you (and I) are shortsighted, not farsighted, so our eyesight is fine uncorrected at the distance we usually hold a book.
posted by lollusc at 5:05 PM on January 13, 2011

Okay so near sighted people can focus closer than regular sighted people. If you correct your eyes you lose that tiny benefit. So yeah, that's normal.

I don't have any ideas about putting on and taking off your glasses, since with my -6 prescription I never do that.
posted by aubilenon at 5:07 PM on January 13, 2011

And by "adjusting" I don't mean adjusting to the fact that you now wear glasses. I mean adjusting between corrected and uncorrected. Presumably the way your eyes focus changes when you are wearing your glasses vs not. And you are more used to squinting a bit when you haven't been wearing your glasses for a while, so it takes a bit to adjust to doing that again when you remove them. I think of it as similar to the fact that I can see well in the dark after being there for a while, but when I first move between a lighted room and a dark one or vice versa, it takes a while to adjust.
posted by lollusc at 5:08 PM on January 13, 2011

Er.... is it possible you weren't honest or something during your eye exam...? What you're describing really just sounds like you have the wrong prescription, so definitely bring that up!

Secondly, you need to define this period 'immediately' after removal in terms of time. Of course your eyes need to readjust after having glasses on... it's only illusory in the sense that it's impermanent. If this lasts more than, say, the time it takes you to adjust to a dark room, I suppose that would merit concern

Third: Get contacts ASAP~

ianad blah blah
posted by MangyCarface at 5:10 PM on January 13, 2011

Maybe try a slightly lower prescription? I routinely use a set that undercorrects slightly - I tested to -4.5/3.75 or something like that, but I use -4.25/-3.5 contacts. I can't see quite as far, but I spend more of my time at a computer screen looking at close-up stuff, so this works better for me.
posted by Xany at 5:19 PM on January 13, 2011

If you can see close-up objects [better] without glasses, don't wear them for close-up work.

Or if it's a pain to take them off and on, you can probably get bifocals with no prescription in the bottom half of the lens.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:19 PM on January 13, 2011

With the far stuff after you take your glassess off, I would guess your eyes have simply relaxed with the glasses on, whereas you used to have a permanent squint before you got them. My optometrist described uncorrected vision as walking around with a weight on your back. You grow up with it and it becomes normal, but when it's removed suddenly you walk straight and without pain and realize what you've been missing. Then you throw the weight back on and your muscles are no longer used to it so it feels heavier than it used to.

The near stuff though sounds problematic; I don't think you should have discomfort when reading at 50cm (which is not that close). Go back and have them check your prescription again. Or yeah, just take them off -- maybe you only need your glasses for distance? You can ask them about this stuff.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:25 PM on January 13, 2011

I've been wearing glasses since I was 12, full time since I was 15.

I still take my glasses off to read or do close crafting work. When I asked the eye doctor why, he did some tests and found that when I have my glasses on and try to look at close up stuff my eyes will cross slightly.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:36 PM on January 13, 2011

I'm near-sighted (though I can't say what my script is). I have to take my glasses off to read comfortably for any length of time or I'll strain my eyes - headaches galore. It's always been so, and it's getting moreso as I grow older (40s now). I can still see with them on, but I see better and more comfortably with them off. As a matter of fact, my laptop is arm's length from me right now because I'm too lazy to take them off... It's just easier to push the laptop further away. ^_^

I can't answer the second problem, but I'd ask your doc about it if you're worried.
posted by patheral at 5:43 PM on January 13, 2011

When determining your dominant eye people like to just shut their eye lids and alternate. The problem with that is doing so slightly alters the eye and makes things blurry for a minute. I suspect your doing something to the same effect because your trying to hard to notice these problems. It's normal for new glasses to take a few days to adjust to.

It's also normal to want to take them off for super fine work. My dad had to and used to work on tiny electronics stuff without a magnifying glass and I do the same. I can read a font size of two with a headache and 3 without. It's just the way our eyes work. We're specialized for close up work, other people for long distance work.

Now, all that said, the bit about trouble reading text makes me wonder as well if you've got the right prescription. I'd go back and ask.
posted by jwells at 6:06 PM on January 13, 2011

I've been wearing glasses since I was 15, so old enough to remember the differences. My current rx is -4.25/-3.75, but it has gotten worse over time, so it didn't used to be that bad.
I take my glasses off to do things like pluck my eyebrows or look below them to look at things that are really tiny close-up. However, you should be able to look at a computer screen at normal distance without blurring. In fact, now, and even when my rx was similar to yours I actually can't read a computer screen whatsoever without glasses.
If you can read your computer better without glasses than with, you probably have the wrong prescription.
However, it isn't unusual to be able to see really small things close-up better without glasses than with if you're only nearsighted, from my understanding. Glasses do distort things reaaallly close up, just a smidge for me.
posted by elpea at 6:23 PM on January 13, 2011

I have that exact glasses prescription and I can definitely see things clearly at 50cm (like my computer screen) without noticeable strain. In fact, I can't read my computer screen at all without my glasses. I also don't notice a huge difference in feeling or vision (other than it being uncorrected) when I take my glasses off. However, I've been wearing glasses / contacts for the last 16 years.

Since this is your first pair of glasses, give it some time. Maybe a week or so. If you're still feeling strain and discomfort after a week, go back to your eye doctor. I agree with the others that said you may have an incorrect prescription.
posted by geeky at 6:27 PM on January 13, 2011

Give it a week or two. My first week with glasses was awful - I was just shy of 9 years old, and felt like I was inside the funhouse mirror land. The first few days I have a prescription, I always have to swap back and forth between old and new to avoid stress headaches.

My "better without than with" range is quite short - these days about five inches from my nose - but used to be closer to 18". My script in 3rd grade was pretty intense, and today I'm up to -8/-7, with a touch of astigmatism.
posted by SMPA at 6:41 PM on January 13, 2011

I've had my pair for about a month, but I only wear them intermittently: not at work, which involves a computer; nor at home, reading or surfing the web; basically, only for doing mid-range things like playing video games, watching movies with subtitles, or ordering food from cafe menu boards.

In addition to asking the doc about the issues I outline, does it make sense to go to another optometrist and have them independently measure the optical power of my pair of glasses?
posted by Nomyte at 6:55 PM on January 13, 2011

I'm more concerned about your first problem than the second. You mention that you have difficulty reading text at 50cm (for Americans like myself, that's about 20 inches) and closer. How far back do you have to push your chair, before you can comfortably read what's on your monitor?

It's normal for people with weak prescriptions (sorry, at -8.25 I'd consider that weak!) to take off their glasses for close-up work like reading or crafting. But 50cm definitely doesn't qualify for close-up work! "Close-up" would be more like 20cm.

On the other hand, 50cm is a little close for a computer monitor. I suspect you might have been inching it closer to you over the years, as your eyesight got worse.

Normal ergonomics is for the monitor to be just far enough for you to easily touch with your fingertips - or about 60-80cm. If you have to be farther than that to read it comfortably, that's definitely something to call your eye doctor and say. Someone may have screwed something up along the line and mis-ground your lenses or something.
posted by ErikaB at 6:58 PM on January 13, 2011

You might need bifocals. I did before I was 30. I had both of the problems you mention. Of course the old horizontal-line-across-the-lens granny glasses are a thing of the past, and now they are graduated and the bifocal nature is not evident. I actually have a trifocal prescription now - effectively three different prescriptions - close-up, computer screen (reading) distance, and driving or long range. Works great. My long range vision with glasses is better than 20/20, and through the lower part of my glasses I can easily the fine print on the back of my iPhone. A question for your optometrist.
posted by JParker at 7:25 PM on January 13, 2011

My prescription is almost identical to yours: -3.0 / -3.25. It sounds to me like your glasses may be overcorrecting -- you should definitely be able to focus comfortably at normal reading distance while wearing your glasses. Measuring now, it isn't until about 10cm I start to be able to focus more easily without the lenses than with them: if you're having trouble at five times that distance then something isn't right.

The other issue you describe, the brief adjustment period when you take off the glasses, is totally normal, I wouldn't be so concerned about that.

In addition to asking the doc about the issues I outline, does it make sense to go to another optometrist and have them independently measure the optical power of my pair of glasses?

I'd bet that the problem isn't that the lenses were ground incorrectly, it's that the prescription itself is off. Give the first doc a chance to remeasure; if they try to blow you off by saying you're not wearing them enough to have gotten used to them, go get a second opinion.
posted by ook at 7:58 PM on January 13, 2011

Are you sure you're not trying to overcompensate for your glasses when trying to read close objects and straining your eyes unnecessarily? My clue that it's time for a new prescription is when I notice myself straining and developing headaches -- then I spend the first few weeks with the new script untraining myself from those reflexes. If you're only wearing them sporadically for close distances, it's quite possible you haven't really adjusted to them yet and are still straining your eyes. Just because they've adjusted to far-distance viewing doesn't mean they've fully adjusted to close-distance viewing yet.

I wouldn't really worry about your second issue at all. It sounds fairly normal.
posted by lilac girl at 8:04 PM on January 13, 2011

Re your second problem: I just took my glasses off after a long day and I have a lot of trouble focusing on things I can see clearly in the morning, near or far. So that's not at all uncommon.
posted by lilac girl at 8:33 PM on January 13, 2011

I brought up a similar topic to my optometrist - basically, I'm always looking at things close up - be it on a computer, or working on some artwork - or reading. My prescription is about twice as bad as yours, meaning, things start to get fuzzy a few inches before my nose.

I wondering if it made more sense to get a lowered prescription (I wear contacts) to stop such strain and get glasses for seeing far away. They thought that was cute.

But, the also recommended the opposite for me: get very low powered reading glasses - something like 1.25x.

I would def. bring your problem up to your optometrist, but I also think you're just adjusting to having corrected vision. Your eyes will react differently with and without glasses. Like many, I have to adjust for a third scenario: with contacts as well. Switching between contacts and glasses - even with the correct prescriptions is perplexing to my eyes, unless I only do one or the other for days on end.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:59 PM on January 13, 2011

I used to only wear my glasses for working on the computer. I didn't realize I had a vision problem (just kept getting headaches) until I got my pair of glasses and put them on, what a difference!

Then I got a slightly stronger prescription a couple years later. I decided to wear them all the time. I could get away with only using them for reading, but the eye doctor said that if I wear them more, my eyes will have less struggle and thus fewer headaches and more comfortable vision. Even though I have a fairly weak prescription, when I first started walking around in my glasses, I felt like I was about 3 feet tall. I never noticed the ground was so close before! I adjusted to that within a month or two and now, if I take off my glasses during the day, I feel somewhat annoyed at my less-perfect vision and prefer to put them back on.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:44 PM on January 13, 2011

Speaking as someone who has worn glasses since before learning the alphabet, let me just remind you that there is no such thing as one prescription that is perfect. You can go to two doctors and get two radically different prescriptions. Both will have their advantages and disadvantages, so it's not always clear which one is better. You have to repeat this process until you converge on something that you are comfortable with. I would never put up with any form of discomfort no matter how you use the glasses. With the advent of $10 - $20 online glasses, there is no reason not to try.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:18 AM on January 14, 2011

I've had my pair for about a month, but I only wear them intermittently: not at work, which involves a computer; nor at home, reading or surfing the web; basically, only for doing mid-range things like playing video games, watching movies with subtitles, or ordering food from cafe menu boards.

Having (and needing) the exact same prescription you have, this definitely makes it sound like you have an incorrect prescription. If I take my glasses off, I definitely cannot read a computer monitor - too blurry. The only thing I can read without my glasses is a book held fairly close to my face.

Either go back to your doctor and get re-evaluated or find a new optometrist to get a second opinion. Wrong prescriptions can and do happen. (I've had it happen myself, once!)
posted by geeky at 12:29 PM on January 14, 2011

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