Common Signs You May Need Glasses

September 10, 2023

Millions of individuals all over the world wear glasses, but many who could benefit from a glasses prescription don't have one. As we get older, our vision naturally worsens, but many individuals don't have regular appointments with an optometrist to check their vision, especially if they're used to seeing in 20/20. Though individuals might think a vision problem would be obvious, many don't realize they have vision issues because the changes can be incredibly gradual. In addition, certain activities make individuals more prone to vision problems. If individuals read a lot or stare at a screen all day, they have a higher likelihood of vision decline, as these activities naturally cause eyes to deteriorate. Being aware of the signs of vision issues can help individuals know when to make an appointment for an evaluation.

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Chronic Eye Strain Or Fatigue

One common sign you need glasses is experiencing chronic eye strain or fatigue. It's natural for your eyes to hurt and become tired sometimes. When you've been awake for a long time, your eyes can become itchy and tired, though you might feel relief when you close them. The same is true if you stare at a bright screen for long periods, though installing programs that soften the blue light of a computer screen can help relieve eye strain caused by screen brightness. You might also experience excessive eye strain when dealing with allergies, a cold, the flu, or sleep deprivation. However, if you're experiencing eye pain for more than a few days, your eyes hurt when you move them, or your eyes get tired during normal activities like reading and watching television, it's time to get a checkup. A doctor should be able to determine whether you need glasses, or if you have an eye infection or another undiagnosed health condition.

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Blurred Or Double Vision

Blurred or double vision is a sign you need to get your eyes checked. Both of these can be symptoms of several underlying conditions ranging from mild to serious. Some can be easily corrected with glasses. If your vision is blurred when you try to focus on objects close by, you may be farsighted. When your vision becomes blurred looking at objects far away, you might be nearsighted. These conditions occur when the lens of your eye isn't able to focus light directly on the retina. Instead, it focuses on images before or behind the retina. The vision changes from nearsightedness and farsightedness can occur so slowly that you don't notice your vision is getting worse. Adults most commonly notice the issues when they try to focus on text on a computer screen, read a book, or drive. It might be difficult to make out road signs unless they're very close or far away. Children tend to notice issues when they're at school, doing homework, or reading.

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Frequent Squinting

Squinting is normal in some cases, such as when you transition from a dark room to a sunlit day outside, it's common to need to squint while your eyes adjust to the light. But if you're squinting constantly in sunlight without your eyes adjusting, or you're squinting in situations that shouldn't have enough light to warrant it, there may be a problem with your eyes. Some individuals also squint when their vision is blurred. The goal is to reduce the amount of excess light that enters their eye, which helps reduce the overall size of the image. This can work as a temporary fix in some cases, but doing it constantly indicates you're using squinting as a way to compensate for vision issues. Like blurry vision, the constant need to squint can indicate you're nearsighted or farsighted. Children who squint a lot may have a lazy eye, which occurs when abnormal vision development leads to a decrease in vision.

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Chronic Headaches

Many individuals don't think about their vision when looking for a cause of chronic headaches. But frequent headaches can be a sign there's an issue with your eyes rather than your head. Headaches occur when the eyes are strained trying to take in data, potentially because the lens is trying to focus on an object but failing to center light on the retina. Some individuals experience headaches because of farsightedness, especially if they're trying to focus on objects close to them. Astigmatism can also cause headaches. Astigmatism occurs when the curve of the cornea or lens has an imperfection. In a normal eye, the lens and cornea are equally curved and smoothed in every direction, but those with astigmatism have a cornea or lens that isn't smooth or evenly curve. This causes the light rays to be refracted incorrectly, leading to nearsightedness or farsightedness. The error in light bending is called a refractive error. An adult who has significant astigmatism may be aware their vision isn't ideal, but children often don't notice symptoms.

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Issues Seeing At Night

A variety of conditions can lead to issues seeing at night, though only some of these can be corrected with glasses. Night blindness occurs when someone has trouble seeing in the dark. Some medications lead to night vision problems, and cataracts can also cause night vision issues. If you think you have an underlying medical condition causing your problems with night vision, talk to an ophthalmologist. This specialist can diagnose many different types of eye diseases, rather than just those that require glasses. If the problem with your night vision is related to nearsightedness, a glasses prescription can help. Many individuals experience issues seeing at night as they get older, especially when facing the glare from headlights or street lamps. Other conditions that can cause night blindness include glaucoma, diabetes, vitamin A deficiencies, and retinitis pigmentosa.

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Sitting Too Close To The TV

One common concern is that sitting too close to the television is bad for your eyes. Staring at a TV screen for too long can indeed lead to eye strain, and the same is true of digital screens. However, being close to the television doesn't lead to eye damage in itself. With that said, if you need to sit close to the television set to see what's going on, it could be a sign of nearsightedness. Nearsighted individuals can see objects and details close to them, but when the image is further away, it becomes blurry. Research indicates children can sometimes focus more easily on close objects than adults, so if your child watches television at an abnormally close range, it's not automatically cause for concern. However, if you or your child can't see the television from a reasonable distance, it's time to have an eye exam done.

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Seeing Light Halos

All vision comes from the brain's ability to interpret light. Different light waves bounce off of objects, enter the eyes, and the brain interprets the patterns the eyes pick up. However, glare and light halos can be a sign light is causing issues with your vision. Light halos are bright circles surrounding a light source. You might see them around headlights or street lamps, and they might make it difficult to navigate when you drive. Some light halos can be strong enough to cause discomfort, and you might need to look away to avoid being blinded by them. When the glare and halos are strong enough, the light can become disabling by eliminating your ability to see anything past the brightness. Halos tend to occur when you're in a dark or dim place, like if you're driving on a dark road at night. Nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism can all cause the retina to have problems interpreting light signals. All of these can be treated with glasses.

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Reading Material Too Close To The Face

One of the most common signs you need glasses is holding reading material too close to the face. The eye's ability to focus degenerates as you get older, even if you don't have other eye conditions. This natural aging process is called presbyopia, and the majority of individuals begin to see changes when they reach and pass forty years old. Everyone is subject to presbyopia, even if they've had perfect vision for their entire life. The condition is caused by the stiffening of the lens, which makes it harder to focus on close objects. If you're suffering from presbyopia, you might actually benefit from holding reading material farther away rather than closer. If you need to hold reading material close to your face to see it, that's more of a sign of traditional nearsightedness. Trying to focus on material that's too close can lead to eye strain. It's important to talk to a doctor if you think it's becoming harder to read or focus on details.

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Closing One Eye to Read

If you have to close one eye to read, it might be a sign of convergence insufficiency. This condition occurs when it's difficult for the eyes to work together at a close range. When you're looking at a screen or reading material close to the face, one eye might drift outward rather than focusing. This leads to a blurred image that improves when you close one eye. Even if the image doesn't look actively blurry, it might cause eye strain that improves when you angle your head or cover one eye. Some patients with convergence insufficiency might not notice the issue because their brain automatically discards the input from the drifting eye. Untreated convergence insufficiency can sometimes lead to permanent turning outward of one of the eyes, which is commonly referred to as a wall eye. School screenings and basic eye exams aren't adequate for detecting convergence insufficiency. Prism glasses and vision therapy are two of the main treatments. While prism glasses won't correct the problem, they can often decrease symptoms.

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Trouble Adjusting To Different Lights

You may need to wear glasses if you have significant trouble adjusting to different lights. Adjusting to light can only happen if your pupils can react properly to different light sources. The faster your pupils react, the faster your eyes will adjust to the new light. Some individuals struggle to adjust to dark environments, while others might struggle to adjust to brighter light. Dry eyes might also cause an increased sensitivity to light and eye fatigue. The surface of the eye needs to be lubricated by tears, and too much dryness can lead to the death of corneal cells and exposure of the corneal nerves. Some individuals who experience light sensitivity might benefit from using polarized sunglasses that filter out glare. Other conditions that induce light sensitivity include anatomical malformations in the eye and retinal dystrophy issues. If a reason for your light sensitivity isn't diagnosed through a basic eye exam, see an ophthalmologist.

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