Was my life as a bespectabled person a lie?
January 12, 2017 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I have worn glasses since I was 7 years old (I'm 32). I went for a checkup yesterday, and turns out my eyesight is 20/15 (better than normal)...what happened?

I went for a check up because I lately feel like things are blurrier than usual, so I wasn't expecting great news.

They had three doctors check me because they were confused. I had to read the eye chart multiple times. The first time I was given a prescription for glasses. The second time they took it back and the third time they confirmed that I do not need eyeglasses.

I was really confused. The third doctor told me that maybe my eyesight used to be even better, but now that I am at 20/15 I feel like things are blurry. This sounded like a really weak speculation to me (every doctor who tested my eyesight would have to have been wrong for this to be true). The second doctor said that my eyes seemed a little dry, and maybe that is what caused the sensation of blurriness.

Is this likely? Should I get a second fourth opinion?

I am actually considering fake glasses because I cannot read or study or work without wearing them. I feel naked. Is wearing fake glasses as ridiculous as I think it is?
posted by Tarumba to Health & Fitness (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Actually, something like this (though not as extreme) happened to me at my last eye checkup. I'm also in my 30s, and the doctor said that sometimes our distance vision can actually improve with age, even as our near vision gets worse. In my case, I still tested as needing glasses, but with a weaker RX. So while going from "needs glasses" to "better than normal" does sound like kind of an edge case, it's not unheard-of for things to shift in that direction.

Also FWIW, despite the explanation I was given, my near vision has NOT degraded to any sense I can actually perceive.
posted by aecorwin at 1:04 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Is wearing fake glasses as ridiculous as I think it is?

As a glasses-wearing person, I hereby allow you to remain in our august tribe as an honorary member and to wear fake glasses in any and all circumstances for as long as you and you alone see fit, unto perpetuity.
posted by Etrigan at 1:09 PM on January 12, 2017 [87 favorites]

My wife's vision got better as she got older, to the point where she didn't need glasses for distance anymore after wearing them most of her life. This didn't happen until her late 40s / early 50s though.

As someone who has to wear glasses full time and would rather not, I can't understand why anyone would wear fake glasses. To me it would be like riding around in a wheelchair if you didn't have to, but to each his/her own so whatever. If you like wearing them, wear them. I think it would take you approximately half a day to get used to not wearing them though.
posted by bondcliff at 1:10 PM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

20/15 or better (when corrected) eye-owner here.

Your vision can change during the day and during your life, both for the better and worse. Some medications can affect it. Some long-term eye conditions can affect it. Head injuries can affect it.

And also if you do need correction, glasses that aren't sized right (e.g. the inter-pupilary distance is off) can affect it. And contact materials and cleaning regimes can affect it.

But also if you are reading a chart at 20/15, that means that for sure under optimal conditions your eyes can do it.

And if you're used to 20/15, and you suddenly transition to 20/20, yes, you will notice the blurriness.

20/20 isn't perfect vision, it's normal vision.
posted by zippy at 1:12 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Out of curiosity, what was your previous prescription?
posted by praemunire at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2017

Also, are your doctors saying your vision is 20/15 without correction, or with correction?
posted by zippy at 1:14 PM on January 12, 2017

Where did you get your prescription? I had 2 prescriptions in my early 20s for eyeglasses from those combo optometrist/glasses store places. They took my parent's insurance and upsold me on the glasses. Years later, around 28 or so, I had my own insurance and went to an optometrist employed by my insurer (Group Health in Washington). I told him the symptoms I was experiencing, had the eye exam, and the optometrist told me to stop staring at computer screens so late at night and come back in 10 years for another exam.

Since then I've assumed that optometrists that also sell glasses give you unnecessary prescriptions for minor vision imperfections in order to sell more glasses.
posted by kittensofthenight at 1:15 PM on January 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Is wearing fake glasses as ridiculous as I think it is?

Only you can answer this, as it only matters to you what you think. But since you asked, yes, I think it's really ridiculous. I wear glasses and love them, but I also know people who wear fake glasses and I can't figure out why, other than these are "fashionistas" types and live that culture.
posted by TinWhistle at 1:19 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can totally wear fake glasses if you feel they make it easier to focus (visually or mentally). Besides, it's only a matter of time before you'll start needing reading glasses anyhow; might as well not get used to the glorious freedom which will only be ruthlessly snatched away by Time.
posted by Mchelly at 1:19 PM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

The blurriness might be from yours eyes not being used to having to not focus through a lens. I know when I get new glasses there's always an adjustment period if the lens thickness is different from my last pair. This includes blurriness, trouble focusing, and distortions.

I'd recommend going at least a week without glasses and seeing if you still have the desire to wear them after that.
posted by mayonnaises at 1:29 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Out of curiosity, what was your previous prescription?

I don't really know. I had the bad habit of just handing in my prescription to the glasses people.

Also, are your doctors saying your vision is 20/15 without correction, or with correction?

She didn't say. She just said: you don't actually need glasses. Your vision is 20/15.
posted by Tarumba at 1:33 PM on January 12, 2017

When I was 17 (glasses with bifocals since 12), my eye doctor predicted I'd get one good decade, probably in my 30s. They took away my bifocals when I was about 29, and now at 44 I've turned into my father with the long-arming and the light-turning-ons and I am long overdue for an eye appointment to go back to bifocals. It was a good run.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:08 PM on January 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

I'm in my late 40s and have had glasses since age 12 or so. I started off farsighted, and ended up nearsighted, with a period in the middle where I didn't need glasses at all. My doc said this was entirely normal.
posted by BlahLaLa at 2:16 PM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had bad vision as a child and got used to wearing glasses (starting from age 4). As I grew, my vision improved, and in my late teens I took a several-year break from glasses since my vision was near-20/20. In my 20s, an optometrist at a regular check-up let me know that one of my eyes was slacking a little bit, and that this could be the cause of headaches I'd been having; so in my early 20s I started wearing glasses again. I technically only need the correction for reading and screens, but since I grew up with glasses, like you I feel more comfortable just wearing them all the time.

Your vision definitely could have changed over time. And it is also totally OK to wear glasses even if this is the case! I get it--when they've been part of your face since you can remember, it's just better having them on. Revel in cheap online glasses stores, though, don't buy the really expensive frames/lenses.
posted by snorkmaiden at 2:19 PM on January 12, 2017

Go buy some cheap non-prescription sunglasses. You can do this now!

You get to still wear glasses, and you look 45% cooler. Win-win!
posted by Huffy Puffy at 2:23 PM on January 12, 2017

If your glasses help you see and function, then they're not fake and therefore not ridiculous, regardless of whether there's a prescription in the lenses. Be of good cheer.
posted by waffleriot at 2:29 PM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

I also have worn glasses since I was a teenager and I suspect I am heading towards a few years of not needing them at all. At it's worst, my prescription was only about -3, but that meant I needed glasses all the time. Over the past 10 years as I head towards 40, each check-up has resulted in a slightly weaker prescription, and after the one before last, I actually found myself automatically leaving my glasses off a lot, unless I was driving or going somewhere where distance vision was essential. My most recent prescription was only about -1, and I suspect in a couple of years my vision will be fine, and then a few years after that I'll start needing reading glasses. My optometrist said it's totally normal to progress like this in middle age.
posted by lollusc at 2:33 PM on January 12, 2017

Same. When I was about 33 or so, my vision corrected itself considerably from bad to just kinda-bad. And then a couple of years later, it was back to my old prescription. The optometrist said it wasn't unusual.

Glasses are fun! You can absolutely get some frames with clear lenses, and then use the frames for real glasses if/when you need prescription glasses again.
posted by mochapickle at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2017

I had LASIK, and I remember well that naked feeling. I can tell you that in my experience it goes away in a short amount of time, a couple weeks. It'll take at least 6 months, though, for people to stop remarking that you don't wear glasses anymore; some of them won't quite recognize you at first.

If you change your mind on wearing placebo glasses, I've got some advice:

0) Pick a vacation or break as the time to stop wearing your glasses-- it sounds like you can't use the distraction right now.

1) Glasses are a natural eye defense that you forget is there. I found myself hitting my bare eyes with things like napkins, straws, and other things that very normally find themselves near my face because I had long ago lost any reflexive eye-shutting defense against such intrusions. That went away after a couple months.

2) With glasses on, you've probably had UV protection from the sun for a long time. After glasses, you need to shield your eyes from the sun's damaging rays, which means taking seriously the need for sunglasses. You may or may not wear sunglasses as a habit right now because of the glasses you already wear, but if the glasses go, then UV-blocking sunglasses (even the cheap ones from the convenience store do this (or so they claim)) are a must.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:18 PM on January 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have always worn glasses, will never have good vision and whenever people have suggested lasik it has freaked me out. I would never want to face the world without the mask and fashion accessory of glasses and the thought of having "perfect" vision is not attractive to me. That's to say that I think that if you feel naked without glasses, you can wear clear glass ones because you were socialized as a glasses-wearer and that is a really big deal.
posted by Frowner at 3:20 PM on January 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

My eyesight's improved in my 30's as well. Go figure.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:40 PM on January 12, 2017

Funny, I just had an eye exam this afternoon and my prescription is significantly weaker than last time. The optician said it's not unusual for a person in their thirties.
posted by beandip at 5:50 PM on January 12, 2017

Lifelong glasses here; and lifelong eye protection without having to think about it. Not ridiculous.
posted by buzzman at 11:44 PM on January 12, 2017

If you do decide to continue wearing glasses, make sure you can get completely neutral lenses in them. I had a period of wearing contacts and then decided I wanted to wear glasses (while wearing my contacts), and the pair I got were fun very round John Lennon sort of glasses with lenses in them, and wearing those fuckers really hurt my eyes after even a short time. The lenses appeared to be completely neutral when I first put the glasses on, but after an hour things started to go wonky and I rarely could make it longer than a couple of hours wearing them before I truly HAD to take them off.

Maybe you can find some heavy frames that you like that will feel like glasses on your face but that won't need lenses.
posted by hippybear at 2:15 AM on January 13, 2017

Did they also test you for astigmatism? My prescription got "better" last year (from -3.5 to -3.0, so the world is still a blur), but I seem to have acquired astigmatism, which is probably what changed my eyesight. You'd still need glasses to correct for that, but it won't prevent you from possibly seeing eye charts clearly.
posted by easternblot at 2:56 AM on January 13, 2017

Count me as another mid-30s person with a recent eye exam that shows improved vision. I've worn glasses/contacts since I was 10 years old, and while I still need them, my new prescription is quite a bit lighter than my old one.
posted by writermcwriterson at 7:57 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

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