Ask An Optom: could glasses be making my eyesight worse?

So, you've just had your eyes tested and found out you need your first pair of glasses or maybe a stronger prescription than before. You put on your new specs, and ta da, everything looks so much clearer!

But after a few weeks, when you take your glasses off, things seem blurrier than they did before your eye test and you might, understandably, question why this is suddenly happening.

“After some people start wearing glasses, they may notice that their vision appears worse without them. This often leads to the mistaken belief that the glasses are making their eyesight deteriorate.

However, what’s really happening is that you’re simply getting used to seeing the world in “high definition” through your glasses. When you take them off, the difference is more noticeable, making your uncorrected vision seem worse than before.

So, it’s really a change in your expectations of how clear things ought to look rather than an actual change in your vision in such a short space of time; once you get used to clear vision with glasses, you’ll likely become less tolerant of blurry vision without them,” said Dom Willson, optometrist and National Professional Services Advisor at Optometry Australia.

Let's dive into a few things you might observe about eyesight and wearing glasses.

Are my eyes getting lazy? 

One common concern is that wearing glasses might make your eyes “lazy”.  

Firstly, it helps to think of your eyes like an auto-focus camera.  

Each eye has a flexible lens controlled by muscles that adjust to focus on objects at different distances. When you look at something far away, these muscles relax to flatten the lens. For close-up tasks, the muscles contract making the lens steeper and more powerful. 

“As we hit our 40s, the lenses in our eyes start to harden and lose their flexibility, a condition known as presbyopia. This makes it harder to focus on near objects, and it happens to all of us. Currently, there's no cure for this hardening, but optometrists can prescribe glasses to help by providing extra refractive power, supplementing the waning abilities of your natural lens, and allowing you to read small print clearly and comfortably.” 

Once the ageing process starts, it continues whether we wear glasses not. So, after a year or two, when your eyes are a year or two older than they were before, you’ll notice that the glasses that initially gave you clear vision are now not working quite so well.

It’s easy to blame the glasses for making your eyes get worse, but the problem is more related to birthdays than to your glasses! Even if you hadn’t started wearing glasses a year or two ago, you’d still be in the same situation with your vision now, either way.  

I’m concerned my child or teen’s vision is worsening due to myopia 

Myopia or short-sightedness is different to presbyopia, in that far away objects & letters become blurrier. Myopia most commonly first appears in the primary school or high school years and often worsens until usually stabilising in the 20s or even 30s.  

The causes of worsening myopia are the subject of active research and are still not fully understood although it’s most likely linked to a lack of outdoor time, and perhaps also too much close-up screen time. One thing we do know from years of research is that wearing appropriate glasses does not make myopia get worse, and in fact some studies have shown that wearing glasses that are not up to date (too weak), or not wearing glasses at all, can make myopia worsen at a more rapid rate.

Could I be wearing the wrong glasses? 

Wearing outdated glasses, the wrong prescription or even someone else’s glasses won't help you see clearly and can cause eyestrain and headaches.  

For kids, wearing an incorrect or outdated prescription can impede the development of their visual system, leading to long-term vision problems. 

By the time children reach 10-12 years old, wearing incorrect glasses is less likely to cause lasting damage but can still result in blurry or uncomfortable vision. By visiting your optometrist for routine eye examinations, refractive errors (eyesight problems) and other aspects of eye function can be assessed to ensure clear and comfortable vision.”

Are my glasses dirty or has my eyesight gone haywire? 

Dirty or scratched glasses can make your vision seem worse than it is.  

Like a dirty window, the dirtier your glasses, the harder it is to see through them.  

Regular cleaning with a microfibre lens cloth can help maintain clear vision. 

“To maintain the best vision and hygiene, clean your lenses every morning. Avoid wiping your lenses with a dry tissue or cloth as this habit can potentially cause fine scratches over time – better to wet your lenses first, either with a commercially available lens spray product, or even just with lukewarm soapy water. Alcohol wipes are an effective cleaner and can also reduce bacterial contamination but be cautious as alcohol can damage some frames.”

When should I get my eyes checked? 

Regular eye exams are crucial for maintaining good vision for life.  

“It is recommended that every Australian, from the time they start primary school, pay their optometrist a visit every year until age 18, then every two years as an adult for a comprehensive eye examination.” 

Kids with conditions like hyperopia (long-sightedness), progressive myopia (short sightedness), strabismus (misaligned eyes) or amblyopia (reduced vision in one eye) may need more frequent check-ups. Similarly, people over 65 or with known eye conditions, such as glaucoma, should have more regular eye exams. 

“Conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can affect your eyes, making regular eye checks a good way to flag broader health issues. Most eye conditions can be treated effectively if caught early, highlighting the importance of regular preventative care.” 

To schedule an appointment with your local optometrist today, use our easy search tool here.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *