Should I get reading glasses, or will they make my eyes worse?
February 27, 2007 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Do reading glasses make you become more farsighted?

I'm 42, I spend a lot of hours reading on both paper and screens, and things are getting a bit blurry.

I can read books fine, although I can see that text isn't as crisp as it used to be. I've become addicted to using Ctrl-+ to increase the text size in Firefox. I don't get eye strain or headaches.

I've tried a friend's pair of +1.00 reading glasses, and they make everything a lot clearer. But I'm wondering if I'll become dependent on them. Do reading glasses make you become more farsighted? Should I start using reading glasses now, or should I hold out for longer in the hopes of slowing the inevitable process of getting farsighted? Anecdotes are good, studies are better.

I don't know if it makes a difference, but I've had strong myopia since I was a little kid (it stabilized at -6.00). I usually wear contacts, but sometimes I wear glasses.
posted by fuzz to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No, reading glasses do not make you become more farsighted. They simply bring things into focus.

You should visit your optimologist and tell him that you've been having problems reading close-up.
posted by SpecialK at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2007

Speaking as someone who has worn glasses for nearsightedness most of my 42 years, they will not screw up your eyes. Of course they may have some effect but that is minimal and you won't go blind because of it in your lifetime. I am now getting to that age where I am starting to need reading glasses or bifocals :(
posted by JJ86 at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2007

42 is a really typical age to start losing focus in that zone. I think you are victim of "the ravages of age", not any behaviour on your part. If anything, increasing the text size is better for your eyes.

Think of it this way -- would you walk around at -6.00 with no corrective lenses help your nearsightedness?

posted by loiseau at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2007

You (probably) have presbyopia, same as me and most people over 40. There is nothing you can do about it. Get some reading glasses!
posted by unSane at 9:37 AM on February 27, 2007

I was in the same position and asked my doctor who said that yes, I would become more dependent on the glasses not because my eyes would get weaker but rather because I would simply become used to seeing so much clearer with the reading glasses on.

He was right. I've been wearing the reading glasses for about a year now and when I take them off, I can still see as well as I did before. However, I prefer reading with the glasses.
posted by gfrobe at 9:47 AM on February 27, 2007

It's age. It's normal. I'm in the 40ish range - ok, not a range, just 40 - and am finding that I have to hold printed matter farther away to see it clearly than I used to (I've never had to wear glasses before). Neither of my parents wore glasses until they were 40ish, so that may come into play as well.
posted by rtha at 9:55 AM on February 27, 2007

The question I see being answered mostly is 'Why can't I see as well as I used to?'

The question I see being asked is 'Will wearing glasses make my eyesight worse than not wearing glasses?'. I see the question like that because that is the question I asked myself in my early 40's.

An analogy would be, 'If I start using a calculator, will my ability to do math in my head get worse?', and the answer is yes, because I stop practicing my math skills.

Is it not true that the focusing of the eye depends on muscles in the eye that make the lens focus, and so won't glasses atrophy these muscles? Are there exercises I can do to strengthen these muscles?

IANAO, but it seems the answer is no, exercises don't help this, and glasses don't make the problem worse. (It just seems like it)
posted by MtDewd at 10:46 AM on February 27, 2007

Response by poster: The question I see being answered mostly is 'Why can't I see as well as I used to?'

The question I see being asked is 'Will wearing glasses make my eyesight worse than not wearing glasses?'.

Thanks, that's right. I guess I didn't phrase my question very well.
posted by fuzz at 5:31 PM on February 27, 2007

The whole "I don't want to wear glasses too often or my eyes will get weak" is total bunk. If you wear the glasses and it seems like your vision is getting worse, it's because all of a sudden you realize how bad your unaided eyesight actually is. It's all based on the shape of the lens in your eyes. There are no muscles to exercise to fix a deformed lens. Get some bifocals or bifocal contacts and accept your fate.
posted by MadamM at 6:24 PM on February 27, 2007

There has been actual research done into the whole glasses ruining your eyesight thing and, while not 100% of optometrists agree, it's pretty well debunked. Yes the muscles flexing your lens and helping your eye focus are losing condition (this isn't about lens shape like your myopia was), but that's because they're stiffening with age. Glasses won't change that in any way. So you have nothing to lose.

But if you have glasses or contacts already you shouldn't just add something else to the mix. Go see your optometrist and get it done right. You can probably just adjust your current prescription, at least for a while.
posted by shelleycat at 9:43 PM on February 27, 2007

My optometrist said it's the lens that gets harder, not the muscles loosing their ability. The lens itself is no longer as good at changing its focus.

I'm 50, and wear multi-focals. Fine print (like on maps) still gives me a hassle. I want bionics, thnx.
posted by Goofyy at 4:32 AM on February 28, 2007

Huh, interesting. My optometrist blamed it on the muscles rather than the lens. It's possibly a bit of both, but either way is age degeneration and won't be worsened by glasses.
posted by shelleycat at 11:03 PM on February 28, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. Sounds like I should just go ahead and get the reading glasses. At least I'm not incontinent yet ...
posted by fuzz at 1:33 AM on March 2, 2007

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