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Are my reading glasses making my eyes worse?

presbyopia2

Are my reading glasses making my eyes worse?



Short answer- No

Although we don’t know the exact mechanism by which humans have a decreased ability to focus up close as we get older (a process called presbyopia), the fact remains that it will happen to all of us.

The leading theory of how this occurs is that the lenses in our eyes get stiffer and thicker as we age such that one of the muscles in the eye that contracts to change the shape of the lens does so less and less effectively because the lens itself gets less pliable.

The process of changing the focus of the lens from far away objects to up close objects is called accommodation.  If you have normal distance vision without glasses, then your eyes natural focus spot is far off in the distance.  In order to focus on an object close to you, the lens in your eye has to alter its shape. The ability of your lens to do that is at its best when you are born and slowly gets less and less pliable as the years go on.  You have such a tremendous ability to accommodate when you are young that the slow loss of this ability is not perceptible.  That is until you reach around the age of 45.

At around 45 years of age the lens has lost so much accommodative ability that you start to have difficulty focusing on near objects.  The impact usually starts when you notice that in order to look at anything small up close, you start holding it further away.  Even though this decreasing ability to focus up close has been slowly getting worse since the day you were born many people feel like the problem has occurred very suddenly.  We have many people who come into the office at age 45 telling us “all of a sudden” they can’t read.  What has probably been happening is they have just very slowly been adapting by holding things further away until one day “their arms are too short” and then they can’t read.

That is where reading glasses come in.  Some people just pick up over the counter readers which can work fine for them but if you haven’t had an exam in some time it is much wiser to get your eyes examined first to make sure the normal aging process is the only problem.  Once it is confirmed through a medical eye exam that there are no other issues, a reading glass is usually prescribed.  Contact lenses are also an option at this point.  See our blog Over 40 and can't read with my contacts for more information on your contact lens choices.

At the beginning a low powered reading glass is used.  As time goes on the lens in your eye continues to stiffen and your ability to focus up close continues to get worse.  The result of that is that your reading glass prescription needs to get stronger usually at a clip of about one step every 2-3 years.  IT IS NOT USING THE READING GLASSES THAT IS MAKING YOU WORSE, TIME IS MAKING YOU WORSE.  The decrease in reading ability without using glasses is going to continue to get worse as you get older whether you wear the reading glasses or not.  Trying not to wear the glasses and struggle along without them is not going to stop the march of time.  You really can’t preserve your reading ability by not wearing them; you are just struggling needlessly.

Watch our video on Presbyopia below.


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Comments 2

 
Guest - Paul Roddick on Friday, 29 March 2019 11:36
I see worse after, fact.

I strongly disagree with this conclusion.
I recently started wearing reading glasses. I sit here using my computer at a reading distance of about 1m & its reasonably clear, I can read & use the computer, but its not completely sharp. I can also look down at the keyboard & type & see all the keys, they are a bit blurry, but its not impossible.

Then I do some task using my glasses. After a few minutes I take them off & my eyesight is clearly much worse.
Now I cannot see any of the keyboard letters, at all. They are completely blurred & I can barely guess what they are, often i guess wrong. 5 mins ago it was not like that. The computer screen & text is now much harder to read. My close up vision has moved from about 1m to 2m. Now I have to wear the glasses to function.
This is not a perception effect, its a physical one. I realise that all eye professionals will disagree, but I think they are wrong frankly.

I strongly disagree with this conclusion. I recently started wearing reading glasses. I sit here using my computer at a reading distance of about 1m & its reasonably clear, I can read & use the computer, but its not completely sharp. I can also look down at the keyboard & type & see all the keys, they are a bit blurry, but its not impossible. Then I do some task using my glasses. After a few minutes I take them off & my eyesight is clearly much worse. Now I cannot see any of the keyboard letters, at all. They are completely blurred & I can barely guess what they are, often i guess wrong. 5 mins ago it was not like that. The computer screen & text is now much harder to read. My close up vision has moved from about 1m to 2m. Now I have to wear the glasses to function. This is not a perception effect, its a physical one. I realise that all eye professionals will disagree, but I think they are wrong frankly.
Dr. Wnorowski on Friday, 29 March 2019 12:26
worse after wearing

An important thing you didn't mention, your age. From your description of your problem I'm going to guess somewhere between 45 and 55.

The lens in your eye has capacity to change it's focus to near tasks, a process called accommodation.

As you get older your eye's ability to do that diminishes and starts to effect your ability to see at near for most people in their mid forties.

You still have the capacity to maximally focus up close at 45 years old for short periods of time. So in your mid 40's to early 50's you can, for a while, get your near tasks in focus but you can''t sustain that effort. Our eyes are only comfortable using between 50 and 75% of our maximum capacity to accommodate for any length of time. So there will definitely be fluctuations in your ability to see near objects. When you are well rested, your lighting is good you can use max capacity of accommodation for several minutes but then you will blur.

In your case my guess is that you started to blur with your reading glasses off which is what motivated you to put them on in the first place and then without a doubt the near vision is going to be worse when you take them off because now you are too fatigued to force your eye to maximally accommodate.

It's not the glasses that did it it's your fatigue.

Take a break for an hour not doing any near tasks only distance and you will go back to being able to see your tasks again just like you did at the start but you will fatigue again and usually quicker then the first time because you are not as well rested.

This WILL continue to get worse as you get older whether you wear those reading glasses or not.

Can't get around father time. sorry.

An important thing you didn't mention, your age. From your description of your problem I'm going to guess somewhere between 45 and 55. The lens in your eye has capacity to change it's focus to near tasks, a process called accommodation. As you get older your eye's ability to do that diminishes and starts to effect your ability to see at near for most people in their mid forties. You still have the capacity to maximally focus up close at 45 years old for short periods of time. So in your mid 40's to early 50's you can, for a while, get your near tasks in focus but you can''t sustain that effort. Our eyes are only comfortable using between 50 and 75% of our maximum capacity to accommodate for any length of time. So there will definitely be fluctuations in your ability to see near objects. When you are well rested, your lighting is good you can use max capacity of accommodation for several minutes but then you will blur. In your case my guess is that you started to blur with your reading glasses off which is what motivated you to put them on in the first place and then without a doubt the near vision is going to be worse when you take them off because now you are too fatigued to force your eye to maximally accommodate. It's not the glasses that did it it's your fatigue. Take a break for an hour not doing any near tasks only distance and you will go back to being able to see your tasks again just like you did at the start but you will fatigue again and usually quicker then the first time because you are not as well rested. This WILL continue to get worse as you get older whether you wear those reading glasses or not. Can't get around father time. sorry.
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Thursday, 14 November 2019

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