Could I have a vision problem that requires glasses?
March 15, 2017 7:23 AM   Subscribe

I've only ever the GP eye exam where you read the chart, and they say 20/20 and move on. I have noticed as of a month ago that trying to read anything about a foot to a few feet in front of me strains my eyes and looks a bit fuzzy (I can read, but it hurts). Long distance is no problem. Could I have a vision problem that requires glasses? No eye problems in the family, so no one believe's that I could have one and they blame me using a computer.

Additionally, I scheduled an eye exam with LensCrafters and I am curious if that kind of eye exam is different that just reading the wall chart, because if that's all it is I am doomed and they will never find if something is wrong with me.
posted by ProblematicParker to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
If you're over 40, this is completely normal presbyopia.
posted by cardboard at 7:28 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]

A lot of storefront opticians use a machine to test your eyes.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:29 AM on March 15

Yeah, it is totally normal for people to develop trouble with their close-in vision after they're about 40. It's normal for younger people to have that problem, too, but it's extremely common for people who are over 40. They'll definitely test for it if you're over 40 or tell them that you're having trouble reading or seeing things close-up.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:31 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

The Lenscrafters eye exam seems thorough enough. No personal experience though.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:33 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

I would go to an actual optometrist instead of a storefront/LensCrafters one, but seconding that once you hit about 40 (give or take a few years), this is extremely normal, and easily solved with reading glasses.
posted by brainmouse at 7:34 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

Sorry guys, but I am an 18 year old girl.
posted by ProblematicParker at 7:34 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I began to need glasses at 10 or 11. It's completely normal for your vision to change at 18.

On preview, yes, you should see someone with a D.O. (Doctor of Optometry) degree, i.e., an optometrist. Such a doctor may be in-house at Lenscrafters.
posted by JimN2TAW at 7:36 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]

Can you try on some reading glasses at the pharmacy and see if that improves your experience? Could be an easy fix.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:39 AM on March 15 [4 favorites]

Yes, absolutely. Sounds like you are far-sighted, it's totally normal at any age (I didn't start needing glasses until I was in my early 20s and now ha ha I'm 42 and blind as a bat) and the optometrist at LensCrafters will test you for it. And you can always at the beginning of the appointment speak up and say, "Hey, I've noticed that anything in this particular range is blurry."

Since no one in your family has vision problems, do you have vision insurance? Glasses can be pricey.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:44 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

Be sure to tell the optometrist about your possible issues, so they know where to start. If you watch the video JimN2TAW linked to, a lot of the exam is you sitting behind a big contraption where the optometrist flips different lens strengths and orientations around while you look at images and/or eye charts and tell them whether the image/letter is clearer or not. (There is no wrong answer here, I've made plenty of "no difference" replies, and if you have a quiet and calm optometrist it can actually be quite relaxing.)

So it's still kind of reading the wall chart, but a lot more detailed, and will determine if you need glasses for real all the time or if you can just use reading glasses.

No eye problems in the family, so no one believe's that I could have one and they blame me using a computer.

Pfft. Feel free to tell them that that's not how genetics works. I've needed glasses to see anything clearly since I was six, my mother is mildly near-sighted but rarely has to wear glasses, my father and two brothers don't need glasses at all (well, Pops developed the usual over-40 presbyopia, so now he uses reading glasses for close stuff.)
posted by soundguy99 at 7:53 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]

Ah even if you're not over 40 this is not unusual (just not the bog-standard thing it might be otherwise). People develop eye problems, and they get worse, at any age. It's weird that your family is discouraging you from seeking medical attention, please ignore them and get a thorough eye exam.
posted by brainmouse at 7:59 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Could I have a vision problem that requires glasses? No eye problems in the family, so no one believe's that I could have one and they blame me using a computer.

If it hurts to read at a certain distance, you are at the very least straining your eyes. Maybe you just need computer breaks, or maybe there's a deficit in your vision and you need glasses, but this is not something that your family is qualified to assess. Luckily, hey, we have professionals that do this exact thing.

And there's no harm in getting a more thorough exam. If your family's opinion about your eyesight is right, an optometrist (or even just an optician) can confirm that there is nothing wrong with your vision. However, if you need glasses, you need glasses, and no feelings about it from your family will change that.
posted by desuetude at 8:14 AM on March 15

Thanks for the advice everyone. I am now quite excited for the eye exam and I hope my problem can be fixed.

As for the price of glasses, I will just be paying out of pocket if there is a need for them. Any price will be worth me being able to see properly without pain and without feeling helpless.
posted by ProblematicParker at 8:28 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

If your vision has been good until now, I'm guessing that any prescription you get will be a simple one, and thus cheap glasses-wise. My husband went in for his first eye exam (at 45 though!) and was just prescribed reading glasses like he could get from the drugstore. They also gave him the option of wearing one contact lens for helping with close-up vision. He also would have been fine with glasses from an online source like Zenni.

But yes, get that eye exam, it's important to do every now and then to check for health issues as well as to give you prescriptions.
posted by wyzewoman at 8:44 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Another possibility is dry eyes. I wear glasses, but when I felt eye strain and occasional blur with a pretty recently updated prescription, I mentioned it to my ophthalmologist (I see an M.D. eye specialist) and he said my issues were caused by dry eye, and suggested over-the-counter eye drops, possibly to be upgraded to prescription eye drops in the future.
posted by RRgal at 8:44 AM on March 15

Definitely get the exam. It doesn't matter at all who might or might not have vision problems in your family. You are having them now and need to get checked out. Here's another page on what happens in an eye exam. It's definitely not just reading the chart, there are a lot of other things they check for.
posted by dawkins_7 at 8:48 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

You've only had your eyes checked by a GP, never an actual optometrist? Then heck yes, go to an optometrist for a real eye exam.

I'd vote against Lenscrafters or another chain like ForEyes though, unless their affiliated optometrist is willing to give you a prescription that doesn't require you to buy any glasses there too --- you might want to buy them there, but I'd hate to be required to do so: the choice should be yours.

Make sure to let the optometrist know any and all medications you are taking, whether OTC or prescription; if you have high blood pressure or diabetes; or if there's any glaucoma or cataracts in your family --- all could have an impact on your eyesight. And make sure to walk out of there with a written copy of your prescription!
posted by easily confused at 9:00 AM on March 15

Make sure you get a copy of your prescription, and most importantly, your pupillary distance! That way you can punch in the numbers and buy online. It'll be much cheaper and the glasses should be just as good. Don't be pressured by any sales pitches. You can always go back to any eyeglass store.

They might balk at giving you the P.D. Insist, because you paid for the exam and part of the cost is getting your prescription.
posted by just.good.enough at 10:06 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

Sounds like astigmatism. I can go without glasses just fine unless I need to be reading for long periods of time. It didn't show up for me until age 16.
posted by politikitty at 10:54 AM on March 15

Since you're paying out of pocket, be aware that you can get your prescription from your optometrist (heck, even if you're buying your glasses from them get it for the principle). There are many online places where one can buy glasses for a fraction of what you can get at most chain stores.

My family's been buying from Zenni Optical for almost a decade now with no issues (found via askme).

If you just need reading glasses, have no astigmatism, and your eyes both need the same correction you can likely get glasses even cheaper at a drug store or dollar store.

A note on PD - depending on locality optometrists may not need to measure your PD for you. But you can find instructions online as to how to measure it. I like the dry-erase marker and some old glasses method (you can use sun glasses if the measurer can still see your pupils, or buy disposable glasses via dollar store/drug store).
posted by nobeagle at 11:05 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Everyone should be getting real eye exams (like where they look into your eye and make sure you don't have some sort of horrible disease that will blind you eventually without intervention, or cancer, and where they test you for glaucoma which is an early indicator of diabetes) yearly or at least every other year when young and not having serious issues, starting from childhood.

I prefer Costco's optometrists generally, as they do not care where you buy your glasses and Lenscrafters is an eyeglass-selling-operation that happens to have a doctor onsite. Like many others, I buy my glasses online because I can have 6-8 pairs for the price of one or two retailer pairs. Goggles4u and Eyebuydirect are my preferred ones.

Most doctors now will let you, for an extra $20 or so (and mine was covered by my incredibly mediocre vision plan - I left Costco down $10 total for the appointment), have an exam that replaces the dilation part of the exam. Strong recommendation to do that - you need one or the other to have a full check of your eye health, but dilation leaves many people unable to truly safely drive afterwards even though they don't stop you. I can't do a damn thing but listen to an audiobook for a good 4 hours afterwards, so I love the new option to skip it.

I've worn glasses since I was 11, with bifocals until 33 and now back on bifocals at 45, though I could pass the driver's licence test without glasses until about 8 years ago. I don't wear them at the computer or for walking around the house, but if the TV's far enough away or I'm out shopping I have to have them on. This stuff changes up all the time.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:17 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

Just to sum up and to emphasize some important stuff:

1. This is normal, and any eye doctor will be able to help you solve your problems.

2. Try on a few pairs of glasses in differing shapes and sizes at Lenscrafters.

3. Do not buy glasses (especially not out-of-pocket) from Lenscrafters.

4. Ask them to measure your PD (Pupillary Distance) before you go and to write it on the physical copy of your prescription that you may have to ask them to provide. They may be semi-jerks about this, but you paid for it, and it is yours to ask for.

5. Buy 2 or 3 pairs of glasses in a size/shape that match the ones you most liked when trying them on. Understand that 1 or more of them may not end up working for you, either fashionably or vision-correcting wise. You can try to return/fix them with your online retailer, but I have found that, at those prices, it is better to just use them for around-the-house/emergency/spare purposes.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:07 AM on March 16

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