Problem with new glasses
April 29, 2021 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I've been trying to buy new glasses and I've been having trouble that I've never had before. My prescription has barely changed but new lenses are giving me headaches.

I am strongly nearsighted (-6.0) with astigmatism. My vision has been fairly stable for a number of years now. I've worn glasses basically my whole life and never had any real problem with new glasses.

Last spring I decided to try prescription sunglasses. I bought them through an online shop, and when they arrived I noticed they felt a little weird but the prescription seemed fine. After wearing them regularly for a few weeks I noticed I was getting a headache every time, and when I stopped wearing them the headache went away. I chalked it up to shoddy workmanship at the online company, returned them, and decided to try again when life was less pandemic-y.

Last month I tried again at a different shop, still a discount chain but I went in person to talk to an optician. Got my sunglasses and the headaches came back. Went back, they offered to re-do the lenses, I tried again, and the headaches came back again, so I returned the sunglasses. Fine, maybe prescription sunglasses aren't for me.

But finally the kicker. I also recently went to the optometrist and got a new prescription -- basically the same as my old one with a slight change to my astigmatism. I went bought a new pair of normal glasses from a reputable shop that I've used before. And after wearing them for a couple of weeks, you guessed it, I'm getting headaches. I switched back to my old glasses yesterday and today no headaches.

I'm going to bring my new glasses back to the store and ask them for help, but suddenly after buying 3 pairs of glasses from 3 different stores it's getting harder to chalk it up to manufacturer's defects in all cases. But I don't understand what else it could be. Has anyone been through something like this? Any advice?
posted by no regrets, coyote to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've had a bunch of problems with glasses online and in-person recently too - mostly headaches and weird depth perception problems. I impulsively bought glasses at Costco this month and they fit well. Costco did more measurements than I'm used to when picking out frames and I think it helped. They also were helpful with adjustments after they arrived. I would go back to your place and ask for adjustments.
posted by JuliaKM at 9:57 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I'd make an appointment with an ophthalmologist and get a full exam. They can verify your prescription, see if your glasses match that prescription, find out the cause of your headaches, and check your general eye health.
posted by davcoo at 10:00 AM on April 29 [6 favorites]

Agree with davcoo. But also...due to the pandemic, have your "looking needs" changed? Do you spend a lot of time at a different focal length (laptop on lap v. screen on desk, for example), with different lighting (local desk lamp v. office overheads), etc.? That can definitely cause strain.
posted by praemunire at 10:09 AM on April 29 [3 favorites]

I fairly recently had a (medically-related) eye health visit where my prescription was checked, also - and the doctor was not impressed with the prescription I'd received the previous fall from one of the discount chains.

I'm a bad glasses wearer - since middle school, I've only worn my glasses while driving or in other circumstances where I absolutely had to use them for distance. As a result, I'm VERY comfortable without them, and I'm pretty sure my brain has adapted to the non-use, because my ability to read at a distance has improved over the years, and oddly, so has my prescription. (Supposedly this doesn't happen, but [shrug] it did.)

However, it can make it REALLY difficult for me to determine during an eye exam which is the better choice. Often, the examiner doesn't have a lot of patient with flipping back and forth repeatedly, either. The most recent doctor tried a different tactic that I'd never seen before - he DELIBERATELY blurred both options in some manner, and that made it SO MUCH EASIER to choose between them! I didn't have the money to purchase yet another set of glasses right then, as it was a medical visit, but I have no doubt that it was the best Rx that had been found for me in many years.
posted by stormyteal at 10:13 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]

Just trying to troubleshoot: were the pupillary distances on all of these the same as well as the overall prescription? Also, are the shapes of the lens similar, or are you perhaps having to look through them differently because they're significantly shorter/taller?
posted by teremala at 12:11 PM on April 29 [2 favorites]

I have astigmatism and have switched to glasses only since the pandemic hit.

Couple of things that helped me. One is buying glasses with a similar style. I seem to do better with a large lens and thinner arms. I've had glasses my whole life and only my current optometrist has talked to me about how the prescription changes around the lens. Depending on the type and size of frame, the part around the edge of the lens may be blurry (or at least not your exact prescription).

Another thing that has helped is that I have purchased 3 sets of glasses: one for use with my laptop with the blue light filter, one with no line progressives, and one with far distance only. I used the laptop one with computer only, the one with far distance for driving, and the regular w/ no line progressives for everything else. I know that it sounds like a lot, but it's helped with the eye strain and my problems getting dizzy from the progressives. You didn't mention you needed progressives, but having the computer glasses are totally worth it IMO.

posted by jraz at 12:15 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]

Probably more unlikely in your case due to you trying on 3 new pairs of glasses, but in my case when this happened to me I chose a pair of glasses that rested on my temples too tightly, adding pressure and causing headaches. The pressure was very subtle but was definitely the source of the headaches. Many glasses are too narrow for me, so maybe in your case, if you're unaware of this issue, you may unluckily pick 3 too-narrow "normal" glasses.
posted by watermelon at 12:40 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]

My first thought was that the +/- on one of the astigmatism numbers got flipped but the strength is right (I've had that happen) but not 3 times from different sellers...

Throwing out a curveball here: is it possible that the lenses are fine but the new *frames* are too tight, causing tension headaches where the arms are clamping onto your head instead of just resting there? Especially if you are ordering them online without trying them on first (or matching measurements to the old frames).

On preview, someone else got there just as I was proofreading...
posted by CyberSlug Labs at 12:42 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]

Is it possible that your optometrist gave you a prescription for Progressive lenses? Tell them that you DO NOT want Progressives. I specifically told my optometrist that I did not want a prescription for Progressive lenses, but he wrote it as such anyway. You can still tell any online supplier or other optician that you do not want progressive lenses, as it is easy to read the prescription without putting in that portion of the order.

Maybe it's time for bifocals or a second pair of reading glasses to go with your distance lenses? ~ that's the time that an optometrist will automatically suggest the "Progressive" technology. I hate them. There is such a small field of vision, and around it becomes almost like a "dream vision" in a movie - the edges become softer. This is due to the gradual progression of focal points that optimizes vision to a closer point the farther away from the center you look. It's much more expensive technology, and it's a complete scam that this is pushed on people to try when it's not necessary. Once you exchange for regular glasses, it's just as easy to see through the ENTIRE lense as it should be.

I have astigmatism. Progressives never worked for me for a number of reasons. The focal point was so small, that I had to either turn my head or *move my phone* from side to side in order to read one line! I couldn't drive and look at the dash at the same time without turning my head to look directly at the dash for the focus because the magnification was too much (wrong focal point) for such a short-mid range distance. This was ridiculous, because I need to watch the road - and just catch the dash readings in my peripheral vision for reference. All of this was magnified (pun intended) by my having a prior neck injury that was aggravated by the need to turn my head and neck in many very short turns and slight angles constantly. It was THIS that gave me a constant headache.

Progressive lenses look like normal ones, because they do not have the typical line that comes with bifocals. Really, the only reason to have them is for vanity and ingrained ageism - nobody wants to look "old". I generally do not even need reading glasses, although they are helpful sometimes. I ended up choosing to go with a regular distance lense for everyday use, and a bifocal computer lense that gives me a monitor distance and a reading distance. I do still feel that the magnification of both my bifocal distances are a bit too strong - they force me to sit closer to the screen or bring my book up closer to my nose than I would like, so it's a work in progress - but this is SO much better than when I tried the Progressive suggestion (which I felt was PUSHED on me).

I'm thinking now that I would like to have bifocals which are distance with / reading or computer distance on the bottom. At least with the bifocal lenses, you can see normally through the ENTIRE peripheral lens above the bifocal line... and even a little below the line on, closer to the frame itself.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
posted by itsflyable at 12:44 PM on April 29

Upon re-reading your post, my vision is much better than yours, but it could still be the same issue. I would ask what has changed since your previous prescription, and then ask (or demand) that the change be reversed.
posted by itsflyable at 12:48 PM on April 29

Upon re-reading your post, my vision is much better than yours, but it could still be the same issue. I would ask what has changed since your previous prescription, and then ask (or demand) that the change be reversed (as long as it will still assist your vision).
posted by itsflyable at 12:49 PM on April 29

Really, the only reason to have them is for vanity and ingrained ageism - nobody wants to look "old".

People don't like the abrupt jump between prescriptions, especially if they need effective trifocals. It sounds like your vision has never been particularly bad (and also like you got the el cheapo progressives with the narrowest field of vision), so perhaps your needs are different, but they are quite useful to some, not for astigmatism per se, but for when your eyes simply aren't up anymore to making the near or far adjustments (or both!) in vision through a single-prescription lens.

But I think it's extremely unlikely that an optometrist would write a prescription for a non-single-prescription lens of any kind (vs. a single-prescription lens) without discussing it with the patient. The patient would have identified a whole different set of needs to him in the examination than the single-prescription-lens user.
posted by praemunire at 1:38 PM on April 29 [1 favorite]

I don't want to do any back and forth, but I will say that I specifically stated that I did NOT want progressive lenses both to my optometrist, and again to my optician. I also stated quite clearly that I wanted "to be able to read the street sign before I was stopped at the stop sign" - and that was the only reason. I did say that I could also use a new pair of reading glasses at some point, but that wasn't important.

My partner has had glasses since he was a toddler. He always just got regular distance glasses with a new prescription when needed, and he could just put them on and everything would be fine until a new prescription was needed. He had the same experience as I did with a different optometrist insisting that he try Progressive lenses. He also hated them, and then had to forcefully insist that he take the optometrist up on his guarantee to ensure that his glasses were satisfactory. The exchange was then to regular distance lenses, with a pair of bifocals as a secondary use pair.

This is NOT an uncommon experience. We both felt as though the very expensive set of Progressives were pushed upon us, and that so much money must be made in doing so that the exchange back to regular distance lenses barely cuts in to their profit.
posted by itsflyable at 8:47 PM on April 29

How big are your frames? I mean, the lenses. Sunglasses usually mean big lens area - which would be analogous to my issue.

I have astigmatism, glasses just weren't right... and after extensive testing, the doc determined that it was because my big ol' lenses were sitting too far from the outer edges of my eyes. Bending the glasses - more or less at the nose - so that the outer edges of the lenses were the same distance from my eyes as the inner edge - did the trick.

Maybe DON'T try bending your glasses yourself, but an eyeglass place ought to be able to do this? or determine if that's the problem?
posted by WaywardPlane at 1:41 AM on April 30

Are your frames a much different size to the usual size you've been wearing? People have already covered the pupillary distance (which they should measure or ask for) and the distance from eye to lens (which could be a factor), but I am also sensitive to the position of the centre of the lens - which is termed the height. It's usually only measured if e.g. you're doing bifocals or varifocals. Especially if you've gone up in lens size (big frames are in fashion now) this could be the difference. You just need to say please could they measure the heights when fitting. Unfortunately this is one of the reasons that buying online doesn't work for me.
posted by london explorer girl at 7:42 AM on April 30

« Older What left-of-centre parties have won elections in...   |   US Civil War: former slave-holder joined the Union... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments