...I don't really mind that I can't see.
July 17, 2007 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Should I get glasses/contacts or continue my fuzzy-sighted yet carefree lifestyle?

My eyes are -1.25 (give or take .25 in each eye) with an astigmatism in the right eye. I have glasses (although the eye doctor that gave me that prescription did not diagnose the astigmatism so glasses do nothing for it) but I don't like wearing them. I'm not particularly fond of the idea of contacts, either because putting them in my eyes and having them sit there freaks me out.

Glasses and contacts always seem like too much stuff to keep track of; also, if I wear glasses and take them off, I can't see like I normally can for a period of time. My insurance doesn't cover eye doctors, contacts, or glasses.

So, are there any negative consequences to not correcting my vision? (Are there any positive consequences?) If so, are they serious enough to warrant me actually wearing my glasses or shelling out hundreds of dollars for a new appointment/new glasses/trying contacts?
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Well, eventually your eyes will probably get worse and you'll have to suck it up and find some way to correct your vision. I don't know if your eyesight is so bad that you absolutely *must* wear glasses now ... if you pass the vision test for a drivers license (if you drive), can see road signs, and feel like it doesn't affect your quality of life, then I would be inclined to say keep doing what you're doing. If you have inexplicable headaches, that may be caused by your fuzzy vision and straining to see.

As a glasses & contacts wearer, I can say that the vast majority of people get used to either very quickly. Contacts feel funny for the first week, after that, if they fit properly and your eyes aren't too dry, you shouldn't even be able to feel them at all. Finding a comfortable pair of glasses will also help to make them become second nature. I don't even think about putting mine on anymore - I have a lightweight pair with extra-thin, glare-free lenses and I very rarely think about them.
posted by tastybrains at 12:20 PM on July 17, 2007

All I know is that when I got glasses, I spent a while just walking around looking at things, because the world looked *amazing*. And I could pass the driving test without them.
posted by alexei at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2007

You sound like my grandfather.

Is his vision failing? Yes. Does he drive everyone around him crazy because he *guesses* what the blurry things are? Yes. Is he too old for anyone to convince him to wear glasses? Yes.

Are you too old to fix your vision? Probably not.

It is a quality of life issue, and your vision degradation will happen so gradually that you'll think your vision is fine. Meanwhile, you'll be squinting while watching tv, making wrong turns, misidentifying people you meet. And annoying everyone around you.
posted by meowzilla at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2007

I don't need my glasses all the time but I find it's easier if I do. That way I can just forget about them. I only take them off at bedtime so there's no losing them either (well, okay, make that "significantly less")
posted by winston at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2007

your eyesight isn't going to get any better, its only going to get worse over time, despite what various internet quacks (want to sell) tell you. so i don't believe there are positive consequences, and besides the obvious 'can't see' problem another negative one is you might get wrinkles around your eyes from squinting. plus its might annoy people you're around to see you squinting all the time, like my old college roommate once told me.

up to you to figure out when it stops being a fuzzy annoyance - you can't read the menu at a deli - and a problem - you can't see pedestrians.
posted by uaudio at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2007

So, are there any negative consequences to not correcting my vision? (Are there any positive consequences?) If so, are they serious enough to warrant me actually wearing my glasses or shelling out hundreds of dollars for a new appointment/new glasses/trying contacts?

Do you drive? Do you drive at night? At your prescription, you should be having trouble reading road signs at a comfortable distance. This has serious implications that I hope I don't have to detail, but they affect both your safety and the safety of everyone around you on the road.

Be very, very sure you want to take that risk before deciding that it isn't worth your time or money to get glasses.

If your concern is about simply wearing the glasses, take a look at the many rimless frames out now. Unobtrusive, fashionable, and lightweight.
posted by odinsdream at 12:50 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

You need to get glasses or contacts, because your eyesight will only get worse, not better, and forcing your eyes to try to see when they can't cannot be good for you. I'm surprised you don't have awful headaches.

If you are in your thirties or older, I would recommend Lasik, since you don't like to fool with contacts or glasses, as it is a one-time solution. I did it, and I am glad I did.
posted by misha at 1:00 PM on July 17, 2007

Contacts are so not a big deal -- as long as you get properly fitted and choose comfortable contacts (and there are dozens of options for daily wear, disposables, etc. that are extremely comfortable) the OMG ENDLESS HASSLE!!!!!!!! thing just isn't the case for the majority of people the majority of the time.

I spend about 20 seconds dealing with my contacts in the morning, and then rarely think about them again till the 20 seconds I have to deal with them at night. Keeping track of a contact case, a bottle of solution, and my glasses is about as complex as keeping track of a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. If you've got the time and organizational skill to brush your teeth regularly, you've got the time and skill to deal with contacts or glasses.
posted by scody at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have the same prescription (without the astigmatism) and I originally sought correction because I found that I no longer felt safe driving at night. Even with my mild blurriness, I couldn't read street signs well, and light played off objects in funny ways, making it harder to see edges and be sure I wasn't going to hit anything/body. This may be affecting how safe you are as a driver without your realizing it.

I dislike wearing glasses, but I use a contact lens that I only take out every 2 or 3 weeks. They are monthly disposables, and I can sleep in them. I usually don't notice they are there. I used to have big "eye issues" but now freely stick my fingers in my eyes with nary a second thought. I totally understand that the idea of contacts may freak you out, but you may be able to overcome it, and they give you a nice field of vision, and decent convenience.

And like people have mentioned, actually seeing leaves on trees is pretty nifty. So a negative consequence of not getting vision correction might be that things aren't as pretty to look at. But some things are awful to look at, and are probably better left blurry. So there ya go.
posted by MsElaineous at 1:09 PM on July 17, 2007

Glasses are actually easier to deal with if you wear them all the time, as you don't have to remember where you put them or carry them around (except when you sleep.)

Good vision is nice to have, though, just like good hearing; if you could go to the doctor to have excessive earwax removed from your ears to improve your hearing, then had to keep your ears clean (what a nuisance!) to maintain it, would you do it?

Whether it's contacts or glasses or lasik, you're better off doing something than you are not doing something -- and with glasses at least, you'll get used to it over time. Even lifelong glasses-wearers have to readjust when getting a frame/perscription change -- but you adjust, then you stop thinking about it.
posted by davejay at 1:10 PM on July 17, 2007

Oh, one bonus of glasses (and I'm not being snarky, this is actually true): you can remove them when you're having, er, relations with a consenting adult. As MsElaineous said above, "some things are awful to look at, and are probably better left blurry." In this case "awful" is probably too strong a word, but there have been times in my life when a soft-focus filter was a boon, even on a very attractive person.
posted by davejay at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

I had pretty much your same prescription, down to the astigmatism. I wore glasses because I like seeing 20/20, and I recommend it. It's worth the trouble. If you have a nice pair of frameless glasses you'll quickly come to appreciate them.

Even better: get wavefront LASIK. I did this and can confirm that it kicks ass. My doctor claims 70% of his patients see 20/15 or better. I think I'm around 20/20, but still, it rocks.

The thing I miss most about glasses is being able to rip them off suddenly for dramatic effect.
posted by mullingitover at 1:22 PM on July 17, 2007

My eyes are about as bad as yours and, while I do have glasses and the world looks sharp through their lenses, I rarely wear them. They are mostly for movies or TV shows that I am very interested in. The reason I don't wear them much is that they often get misplaced (never lost, knock on wood) and I find that the constant searching is more annoying than not having perfect vision.

Yes, it is often difficult to see street signs in the dark but it has never been anywhere close to dangerous. If I can't tell if it is the right street I just take the turn anyway, or turn around at the next street. Important signs such as yields, stops, and one-ways are always prominent enough that it isn't a problem at all. YMMV, quite literally.
posted by mbatch at 1:33 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure that the RX numbers mean, but I also have some astigmatism and otherwise faulty vision.

1) I was told many years ago that contacts & astigmatism don't do well together, so I've always worn glasses. This might have changed or might anyway be dose dependent.

2) I don't mind wearing glasses at all. The only time it's a pain is when I don't have my RX sunglasses. Wearing eyeglasses all the time is not something I even notice.

3) However, when I first started I had exactly the same problem with wearing them sometimes. My vision would (at least) seem worse after wearing them. I think part of what's happening is that you really do see the world more clearly, and come to expect it, when you wear glasses. When you take them off it's harder to feel sanguine about the lack of good vision. So, my advice is not to start until you're going to keep it up. Kind of like heroin.
posted by OmieWise at 1:42 PM on July 17, 2007

You don't have to shell out $200 for glasses if you are not sure you want to stick with them permanently. Get your prescription (~$40) and visit http://glassyeyes.com. I've got five cheapo pairs of glasses found through that blog (altogether costing less than $100) through which I see just fine and can coordinate with my outfit, plans for the day, et cetera.
posted by sian at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

To quote Brian Reagan (comic): "How could instantly improved vision not be at the top of your to-do list? Glasses? Nah, I'll see tomorrow."
posted by Ynoxas at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2007

You're pretty dangerous to everyone else on the road if you don't get your eyesight corrected. And I bet your insurance wouldn't cover you if have a problem and it comes out that you'd had a prescription but never updated your driver's license to reflect that.

You might not think it's that big of a deal, but it really is. My eyes are only a little worse than yours and I can't imagine not wearing corrective lenses all the time. I prefer contacts, but glasses are fine too.
posted by mikel at 2:00 PM on July 17, 2007

I started wearing glasses when I was about 18. I never would have because I thought I would look strange with them on (but I got used to them and now I quite like them).

Anyway what prompted it for me was almost daily headaches caused by my astigmatism. at that age I was in my last year of high school, where i really started hitting the books, and all that reading caused terrible eyestrain. I wonder if you've had any problems with recurring headaches? if so, glasses might solve it. if not, and you see well enough for your own satisfaction, then do whatever you want.

by the way I think my prescription is around the same as the poster's, but I passed my last eye test at the driver's center (quite recently) so I don't need my glasses to drive. as long as you can pass the eye test, legally I'd imagine you're ok wheter you have a prescription or not.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:07 PM on July 17, 2007

addressing points brought up and adding information:

I'm not dangerous to anyone on the road because I don't drive. The ten (?) times that I've driven this year I've worn the glasses that are floating around my house (also use them for movies similar to mbatch who seems to have vision very similar to mine)

I don't like the idea of contacts being in my eyes all the time and I also don't like the idea of sleeping at a friend's house, not having contact solution or a case and having my eyes feel awful in the morning.

I don't have headaches. I read a lot and that does not give me headaches. Squinting doesn't give me headaches. I know my vision isn't fine and when I wear glasses I appreciate the details but I just really don't like wearing glasses. I tried to get used to it (wore them for a week pretty much non-stop to try to convince myself to do it) but I don't like how they look on me, I don't like the feel of them, I don't like the extra step in the morning of putting them on.

Also, where I am, a vision test for glasses costs about $60; for contacts $100.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 2:34 PM on July 17, 2007

mustcatchmooseandsquirrel; have you ever worn contacts? If you have, it must have been a long, long time ago. There have been vast improvements in just the past few years alone. Like MsElaineous, I have monthly contacts, Acuvue Oasis. They're hydrophilic lenses designed to be worn while you sleep for 2 to 3 weeks at a time. For most people, there is very little irritation. I wore mine on a trip from NC to Burning Man, through the entire event, and back without taking them out, and never noticed them.

The days of needing to always have a bottle of specialized contact lens cleaning solution with you are over.
posted by odinsdream at 3:49 PM on July 17, 2007

If I wear my glasses for too long, it starts to strain my eyes or sometimes gives me a headache. I'm slightly nearsighted, but don't recall my prescription. I wear my glasses for television watching, movies, video games, ordering from a fast food menu, and when I need to find an address or walk alone late at night. Otherwise, they stay in my case.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:55 PM on July 17, 2007

Oh and like you I have an issue with contacts. I don't like foreign objects in me, so I have a problem with needles, for example, or anything touching my eyes. I'm also prone to eye infections, so I really shouldn't be sticking my fingers there much.

I also like to grow my nails.
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:58 PM on July 17, 2007

A couple items of commentary from someone who has been wearing glasses or contacts, since preschool.

Contacts are easier to wear, the less your eyes need them. With your script, you should be able to get the lighter end of possibilities. As someone with a double-digit script Plus extreme astigmatism, I can't get the 2-3 week wearables some people have talked about in thread. Count your lucky stars they are available to you. But if you aren't a consistent person with your cleaning, even the lightest contacts will become uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous. If you spend a lot of time in smokey clubs (they still exist outside of seattle, right?), you may find the life of your contact lenses far less than you'd expect.

Glasses have their own problems; weight, scratchability, ease-of-loosing, dorkishness (but luckily, nerdy is in, they say). The upside of glasses over contacts are the ease of care (soft cloth, not papertowels), the durability (I have years old pairs of glasses in reserve for when I lose the current pair...I wouldn't put a 6 year old used contact in my eyes, no matter how it'd been stored).

If you do go with Lasik, do not do as my mother, and get the cut-rate deal of the week. We are a ways away from being able to grow you a new set of eyeballs, so assume you only have one shot at getting the zap done.
posted by nomisxid at 4:18 PM on July 17, 2007

Silicone hydragel contact lenses, 30-day continuous wear. Just go in for the fitting and try them out.
posted by MrZero at 6:07 PM on July 17, 2007

Some people have problems putting stuff in their eyes.
I cant even really handle the mildest sort of eye drops. it freaks me out. There is no way I could put contacts on.
posted by Iax at 7:41 PM on July 17, 2007

My prescription is more mild than yours, but I found (before I got them) that I was getting headaches at the computer. The glasses have helped a lot. At first I only wore them while on the computer - I can read a book or watch TV without them - but I've found when I'm playing video games, I enjoy them a little more because the amazing graphics are still a little better with them on, and it's a little easier to read with them on too. So I started out figuring I wouldn't wear them much, but I've discovered I like being able to see more clearly!

Also, you don't have to spend hundreds on your glasses... check out Glassy Eyes.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:44 PM on July 17, 2007

I wear glasses when I drive, occasionally if I know powerpoint slides are going to be presented. I can pass the driving eye test without the glasses, but am safer at night especially with them on.
I lost my spare pair recently and did a search on the web to get a cheap new pair. The new pair cost $8 plus $10 shipping (all the way to Australia) so I don't think cost is that much of an issue in getting glasses. Search Google for $8 glasses if you want some.
posted by bystander at 8:35 PM on July 17, 2007

You should definitely get contacts. I started wearing contacts last week after a few years of only having worn glasses at school and its amazing how blurry things really were before. For me the world looks completely different-things are visible and look good. Contacts are also not as creepy as you think they are and training your eye to let them be easily put in takes no time at all. So if the contacts will improve your quality of life, if you'll be able to say see street signs or look at a menu at a fast food place then I say that you are missing out if you don't get contacts.
posted by thelongcon at 8:45 PM on July 17, 2007

I have astigmatism. It's fair, and only in one eye. Plus a touch of far-sightedness. I've worn glasses for the past 4 years when I finally got my eyes checked. I occasionally find them a bit of a nuisance, but if you were to ask me if I'd rather go back to slightly blurry, but mostly acceptable vision I wouldn't.
posted by O9scar at 10:04 PM on July 17, 2007

"I was told many years ago that contacts & astigmatism don't do well together, so I've always worn glasses. This might have changed or might anyway be dose dependent."

"As someone with a double-digit script Plus extreme astigmatism, I can't get the 2-3 week wearables some people have talked about in thread."

I have a whopper of a prescription with high astigmatism, and was told the same thing for years. I wore "gas-permeable" hard (endless pain-in-the-ass) lenses most of my life as they were the only thing that would correct my vision properly. About a year ago my eye doctor had me try something new - Baush & Lomb PureVision soft lenses. I was astonished at how sharp my vision was and how comfortable the lenses were. I was used to the small hard lenses, and the new soft lens which covers much more of the eye took about a week to get used to.

They have improved my quality of life beyond all expectation. The lenses are completely comfortable, for 30 days or more. I no longer fear dust in the air, or crashing on a friend's couch unexpectedly. I keep a teeny-tiny bottle of an OTC "natural tears" product in my pocket when I go out, and a drop is all I need in the morning to undo a slight dry feeling. Even without drops, a few moments of blinking to get the tears flowing does the trick.

When money has been tight I have worn a pair for almost 90 days straight with no ill effects, though I certainly don't encourage imitating that feat.

This is not a paid endorsement, I just love the things. I now have no desire to ever risk Lasik over the tiny effort required to swap lenses once a month.

Please, if you have the opportunity to enjoy perfect vision, for crying out loud do it. There's a lot of beautiful stuff in the world and you'd be a fool to opt out of seeing it all clearly. A six-month pack of lenses only runs me about $130. And I bet if you explain you're paying out-of-pocket, an optometrist would make the exam & fitting affordable too.

You can learn to put them in your eyes. I have trained friends by having them practice first without an actual contact lens. [I am not any kind of medical/optical authority here, just a guy who's worn contacts for 25 years.] Wet a clean fingertip with saline solution and touch your cornea. There are no nerve endings there. The blink is just a reflex -- there is no pain, just a tickle from the slight pressure. You can learn not to trigger the reflex. Don't use a mirror as a crutch -- it doesn't really help and you don't want to be dependent on having a mirror handy. Keep trying until you can deliberately hold a fingertip on your cornea without blinking. Then go get a trial pair of contacts. You'll be able to pop them in without blinking them right off your fingertip, and begin marveling at the world around you.
posted by Tubes at 10:57 PM on July 17, 2007

I have astigmatism and I wear disposable extended-wear contact lenses that correct for it. Frankly, I have worn them for up to a month at a time with absolutely no discomfort. I am by no means recommending that you practice such negligent contact lens-wearing habits, but the point is that sleeping at a friend's house with extended-wear contacts in overnight will not necessarily be an issue for you at all (although I think some people are more sensitive to sleeping in contacts than others). I rarely bring a contact lens case or solution with me anywhere, although I usually keep my glasses in my car just in case I lose a lens (in 16 years that has never happened, though). But that's because I have crap eyesight and I would have a ton of trouble driving without a lens -- not an issue for you. It sounds like if you lost a contact you could carry on just fine until you got home.

As for being squicked out by putting/wearing lenses in your eyes -- I don't think it's a big enough deal to factor into your decision. Honestly, it's one of those things that seems a little daunting before you do it, but there's really nothing to it, and once they're in you won't even notice that they're there.

My understanding is that one's vision with contact lenses is better than 20/20. I know that I don't see as well in glasses as I do in contacts (and obviously have less peripheral vision).
posted by amro at 7:10 AM on July 18, 2007

Everyone is a little freaked out the first time they wear contacts. Then you get used to it. Honestly. And in terms of hassle, you can get the daily-wear ones. Put a fresh pair in in the morning, toss 'em at night. No cleaning.

How bad is the astigmatism? When I first got soft contacts my myopia (nearsightedness) was bad but my astigmatism was marginal, and they were able to bump up the correction enough that the astigmatism didn't bother me.
posted by radioamy at 11:20 AM on July 18, 2007

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