Why does my vision keep getting worse?
January 27, 2011 7:02 PM   Subscribe

What is going on with my eyesight?

I just visited my optometrist last week because I noticed that my six-month-old glasses weren't strong enough for me to be able to see things like road signs. Sure enough, my vision has deteriorated AGAIN. Six months ago it was -6.5 (left) and -9.5 (right). Now it is -6.75 and -10.75. My vision has been getting steadily worse since I started wearing glasses in kindergarten (I'm 23), but lately the right eye in particular has started to worsen faster, at least -1 per year.

I'm the only one in my family with really poor vision (some of my older relatives wear bifocals, but their scripts are nothing like mine). My dad had a detached retina a few years ago, but his vision is fine. Optometrists have been telling me for the last, ooooh, 17 years that it would plateau. Is this true? I mentioned to my optometrist that I was worried and he did a pupil dilation and said that everything looked normal, but he doesn't know why my vision keeps getting worse.

I don't work in front of a computer. I do spend a few hours a day doing uni work/reading MeFi etc, but I make the text really big and keep the computer a fair distance away. I'm not sure what else I might be doing that could be harming my vision.

My questions are:

1. Has this happened to anyone else? Did your eyes eventually plateau? How bad was your vision when this happened? Or did you eventually go blind?

2. Who else can I see for a second opinion? I'm not sure this is worthwhile because with my new glasses and contacts, I've exhausted my private health benefits for the year, so I'd rather avoid any tests unless they're covered by Medicare. Should I talk to another optometrist? An ophthalmologist? What sort of tests might they do?

3. Am I totally over-reacting, and some people are just meant to have -15 vision or whatever? (Seriously, this is probably true. But still I worry, and my optometrist is not good with the reassurances.)

Of course YANMO. I'm just looking for ideas for things I can ask my optometrist, or a different optometrist, to check out if necessary. I'm not keen on Googling because I KNOW I'll find some WebMD article suggesting I have some sort of advanced eye-cancer-AIDS.
posted by jaynewould to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Mine got between .25 and .5 worse every year for about 10 years, and have now finally stayed the same for 2 years in a row. I'm 27. They were never as bad as yours are though, but mine did just plateau at slightly older than you...
posted by brainmouse at 7:07 PM on January 27, 2011

Vision is important. It's time to see an ophthalmologist who will hear your story, examine your eyes, and give you better answers to your questions.
posted by exphysicist345 at 7:18 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I've been wearing glasses since I was in preschool, and my eyes got worse every year. Until, I turned 24-25. I'm honestly not quite sure when it was exactly, because there were a few years in there when I stopped going to the doctor as frequently. The last two times I've gone though, my prescription has been the same. I'm 26 now. They say that you can't get lasik until your vision plateaus, and I think it's normal for that to happen in your mid-late twenties or early 30s.
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:25 PM on January 27, 2011

I have a similar prescription to yours, and I don't have advanced eye-cancer-AIDS. I'm just super myopic in my right eye. It did level out sometime in my 20s. But I do think it's a good idea to see an ophtalmologist, rather than an optometrist, at least for a one-time consult. It'll put your mind at ease, and it's also worth talking to someone about general eye issues. Those of us with extreme nearsightedness are at higher risk for some nasty eye stuff, and it's good to know what to look out for.
posted by craichead at 7:28 PM on January 27, 2011

It will keep getting worse for a couple more years, likely. Mine started to plateau in my late 20's and has been the same for about 5 years.
posted by gjc at 7:45 PM on January 27, 2011

You want an ophthalmologist to give you a thorough once-over and take a complete history. High myopia increases your risk of retinal detachment, and scheduled regular retinal exams will be helpful in catching any changes that might occur before they become a problem.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:53 PM on January 27, 2011

You should probably go see an ophthalmologist, but: I had one eye doctor tell me that he was very surprised that my vision had stabilized at the age of 22/23. He said that changes are often to be expected, especially with women (hormone-related, I assume), until you hit your late-twenties/early-thirties. Then you can coast on that awesomeness for a little while, until it's bifocals for you.

He was kind of a jerk, though, so take that for it's worth...
posted by vivid postcard at 8:36 PM on January 27, 2011

I started wearing glasses in 3rd grade and I'm now at a -6 in contacts. My eyesight plateaued around age 28 or so (based on my last pair of glasses...I think they got a little worse but not bad enough to change the glasses I only wear at home). I did remember being upset about that last change, wondering if I would eventually just go blind then they stopped changing. So hopefully you're getting close.

Next time you go to the eye doc though, find an opthamologist to get a thorough exam and make sure noting worse is going on. They prescribe glasses just like everyone else so it won't hurt anything.
posted by MultiFaceted at 8:42 PM on January 27, 2011

If you do want to see an ophthalmologist, check your coverage. Coverage for disease assessment/treatment by an ophthalmologist is often covered as part of your medical care while a regular vision exam and glasses are paid out under separate eye care coverage.
posted by metahawk at 11:17 PM on January 27, 2011

Thanks all :) I think I will go see an ophthalmologist, just for peace of mind. Out of curiosity, does anyone know if you need a referral for this (in Australia)? I'm not sure I want to tell my optometrist I don't trust his judgment...but I will definitely go see one.

Thanks also for all your anecdata - I was always told that it would plateau once I got past adolescence, but it's only gotten worse since I left school. It's really reassuring to know that a late-twenties plateau is a possibility, since nobody's mentioned that to me before.

Metahawk - I checked and you are exactly right. Non-optometrist eye stuff is covered under a bulk "other therapies" category (alongside osteopathy, speech therapy and home nursing. Go figure). So I have plenty of cover available, yay!

I am having six-monthly retina checks at the moment too. (No bungie-jumping for me, apparently. I also received the helpful advice to "avoid car accidents".)

Thanks again :)
posted by jaynewould at 12:26 AM on January 28, 2011

3. Am I totally over-reacting, and some people are just meant to have -15 vision or whatever? (Seriously, this is probably true. But still I worry, and my optometrist is not good with the reassurances.)

Well, my eyes weren't as bad as yours when I was in my mid 20's but they did plateau and were the same for 10 years and then I needed to bump up 1.25 diopter and it has been the same since then (I'm 43 now). At my last fitting, I asked my optometrist what is the worst my eyes could get and still wear contacts. He said he knows at least -12 for Acuvue Oasys lenses but said other brands go higher.

tl;dr: My eyes plateaued in my mid 20s. Your vision can get worse and still have contacts. But everyone's eyes are different so see the ophthalmologist. It's your eyes so check it out. With luck, you're fine and the doc will tell you that you're OK so you can stop worrying.
posted by birdherder at 12:41 AM on January 28, 2011

The rate of change is more important that the value of correction so if you can show the ophthalmologist your prescriptions over time (or perhaps your lenses, they can measure them) that will greatly help them understand what's been happening.
posted by tommasz at 10:33 AM on January 28, 2011

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