Explain my vision woes as though I were five, please
January 11, 2014 12:05 AM   Subscribe

I got new eyeglasses a few days ago and I'm having difficulty adapting. Please help me understand what's happening here, including how ageing fits in.

I've read the previouslys (like this one) and a bunch of Wikipedia articles, but I'm still befuddled.

Since childhood I've had very strong myopia with astigmatism in my left eye. I got LASIK/PRK which left me with perfect vision. Ten years afterwards, I found my vision was deteriorating, got an eye exam that resulted in a mild prescription, and ordered glasses with digital (AKA high-def or "free form") lenses. They came in the other day.

Without the new glasses, my distance vision is pretty bad. Wearing them, it is GREAT. I can see leaves! Read signs! Recognize faraway people! Without glasses, my up-close vision is great, but wearing them, I can't read anything. In the three days since I got the glasses, I've worn them three times -- once for two hours, twice for a few minutes. Each time I felt nauseated for about an hour afterwards.

So I have a couple of questions:

1) Is this degree of nausea normal/reasonable?
2) Can I expect my myopia to continue to get worse? I'm on my laptop *a ton* -- is that accelerating the deterioration?
3) I gather I'm expected to take the glasses off to read. Is that a normal thing to need to do? Isn't that the problem bifocals are intended to solve? (I'm 45.)

Sorry about the length. I am planning to call my optometrist, who by the way seems credible and did a thorough exam, but would like to be a little better-prepared first. If you can shed light on any of this please do. Thanks in advance.
posted by Susan PG to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So the question is: are these bifocals? If yes, they might be wrong, as you seem to suspect...

Because otherwise, the glasses I use for driving make me even worse at the computer than no glasses, so that's basically my observation too. I need (prescription) reading glasses.
posted by Namlit at 12:55 AM on January 11, 2014

IANAVision Professional of any kind, but I am about your age and have a love/hate relationship with my progressive lenses. The basic idea with progressives is that instead of having only two distinct prescriptions (near and far) that meet in a hard, visible line in the middle of the lens like older bifocals, there's a sort of blending from the distance prescription (at the top of the lens) to the near prescription (at the bottom of the lens). Unfortunately, for reasons involving optics that I don't understand, this blending results in a vaguely T-shaped useful area of each lens. Distance vision is great, because the top of the lens is useful all the way across, but the middle and near-distance areas are really only useful along a line down the center of the lens, i.e. the lower left and lower right corners of each lens are an ugly optical compromise that tends to distort your vision if you look through them. So, reading with progressives can feel confining because instead of just looking where you like in whatever way feels natural, you have to tilt your head to the specific angle that puts the reading part of the lens (a small area near the bottom center) between your pupil and the words you are reading. You can't just hold your head still and scan your eyes left and right, up and down on the page because doing so changes the prescription and sometimes has you looking through the distorted lower corners of the lenses.

Fancier progressives like the custom-ground "digital" ones you got are better in that their usable middle and near-distance areas are wider than they would've been with older-style / cheaper progressives, but they are a long ways from ideal. Sure, you can read with them, but they're optimized for distance. If you do a lot of sustained reading or close-up work, I think it's still best to have a separate pair of reading glasses, or to take the glasses off if you don't have problems with close-up vision.
posted by jon1270 at 5:32 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

The difficulty you are experiencing is not out of the ordinary for first time users of progressive or bifocal lenses. They are an odd thing to get your brain used to learning. Return to your opticians and explain your problems, it is often a fit issue, where the glasses can be adjusted to sit correctly for the eye to be in optimal position. I'd also say persevere a little more if you can, try to imagine you'll get beyond this stage. In my experience some people just couldn't get on with these type of lenses but a large part of that was the approach they took, in that they gave up at the first hurdle. Try and work with what your optician suggests if you can!
posted by 0 answers at 5:51 AM on January 11, 2014

My ophthalmologist told me "point your nose" at what I wanted to see before she gave me the prescription for progressives.
posted by brujita at 6:06 AM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You've only worn them for a couple of minutes? 2 hours max?

I just got a new pair of high-def glasses, as a lifelong glasses wearer and it was a much more intense adjustment period than I remember happening before. It took me at least 4 hours of constant wearing before the weird subtle vertigo nausea headache went away (it improved over that time, but the first 2 hours were roughest), and it wasn't until about 8 hour mark before everything settled. The next day they were fine. Now things are awesome.

Wear them for longer, your eyes and brain need to learn how to manage the new imput.
posted by rpbtm at 6:07 AM on January 11, 2014

You say you feel nauseous after you take them off, do you feel queezy while wearing them? My glasses threw me off because the floor and walls were not quiet where I thought they were and things looked steeper but I went from no glasses to progressives, I felt sea sick for the first few days (but I get seasick on wet grass so wasn't surprised), I had headaches and what felt like eye strain for the first week and then I got used to it and was tipping my head to get things into the perfect focal point without thinking. I find I even move my head up and down now when my glasses aren't on as my brain has kind of latched onto the idea that is how you get things to focus.

I would suggest maybe getting reading glasses for when you are on your computer a lot, but to give the other glasses a fair chance, your eyes have to get used to the new glasses to work.
posted by wwax at 7:14 AM on January 11, 2014

Progressive glasses take time. I'm back to regular bifocals but I still take my glasses off when I use the computer.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:02 AM on January 11, 2014

Response by poster: Oh thanks for your answers so far, but these are *not* bifocals or progressives -- they're just a mild prescription for myopia. Sorry: that part is meant to be asking shouldn't they be bifocals?
posted by Susan PG at 9:54 AM on January 11, 2014

Ordered and got them - was there a point where someone with training put the new glasses on your face and tested your vision?
posted by Lesser Shrew at 11:35 AM on January 11, 2014

Without the new glasses, my distance vision is pretty bad. Wearing them, it is GREAT. I can see leaves! Read signs! Recognize faraway people! Without glasses, my up-close vision is great, but wearing them, I can't read anything


these are *not* bifocals or progressives -- they're just a mild prescription for myopia

Okay that makes it clear. At 45 you would anyway be in the market for reading glasses. What do reading glasses do? They compensate for the decreased flexibility of your eye to adjust to nearby things, or, simply put, they create an effect of nearsightedness to enable you to focus on stuff that's in front of your nose.
So, since you say you need a "mild prescription for myopia (nearsightedness)" the reading-glasses-ability is kind of already built into your eyes. Your new glasses are for seeing better far away. Take them off when you read.
posted by Namlit at 1:19 PM on January 11, 2014

Absolutely, yes, take them off when you read! I have been doing that for fifteen years and it works just fine.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:22 PM on January 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lesser Shrew yes, but there wasn't much to it. The optometrist put them on my face and asked me if I could see well and if the frames were comfortable. That was basically it.
posted by Susan PG at 1:30 PM on January 11, 2014

I got glasses a few months ago after exclusively wearing contacts for several years. I wore them for three days in a row and still had that distorted perspective, nausea feeling. Sometimes it just takes time.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 10:59 PM on January 11, 2014

Can you read comfortably without your glasses? I've had myopia since childhood and recently developed astigmatism and find that reading with my glasses on (especially screens) is doable, but not exactly pleasant. I don't generally wear my glasses when reading.

Some people also find that the reading screens while wearing their glasses causes them problems, and get a lens treatment to reduce glare. That might be something to discuss with your optometrist if the problem is particularly bad while working on a computer? I also find some screens I need my glasses to read, and some I don't, depending on the resolution of the display.

And as others have said, if it's unpleasant but not impairing your ability to function, try pushing through the feelings of nausea. I find it can take several days to fully adjust to new glasses, though for me it's headaches rather than nausea. If it's beyond a bit uncomfortable and making you have to take steps to recover, that would be the point where I'd go back to the optometrist. Some discomfort is normal, but impairment isn't, in my experience.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:23 AM on January 12, 2014

« Older Paper photo/art frames   |   Should I reject my credit card's mandatory... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.