Does Wearing Glasses Weaken Your Eyes?

No, wearing your new glasses does not make your vision worse; in fact, since you got them, your vision is probably better than ever, making you feel like you couldn’t get along without them. When you take them off, your uncorrected vision seems worse than ever, but most of this is due to the better clarity of vision that your new glasses give you, not to the glasses having made your eyes worse.

Most of us don’t notice the tiny changes in our vision from day to day. The brain is very efficient at adapting to small changes over a length of time, so we don’t notice the effort it may take for us to see well, using strategies like squinting a little or moving reading material a little further away.

When you put on your new eyeglasses, suddenly squinting and struggling to see clearly are not needed, and your vision seems very clear and almost effortless. But when you take them off at the end of the day, the improvement in vision they give us makes us think our glasses have made our vision seem even worse without them than it was before.

Lens technology is changing all the time. New lenses can make vision much better, even without a significant change in the power of the prescription. Even changes in optical materials and simple changes to the surface curvatures can make the world much easier to see. This does not mean your vision suddenly got worse, only that your correction got a boost from a new lens design.

The Twenty-Pound Knapsack

What if you had to carry a knapsack weighing twenty pounds on your back, taking it with you everywhere you go? It would seem quite heavy at first, but you get used to it so after a while you don’t notice it, or the work it takes to move around with it on your back. But suppose someone came along and took the knapsack off your back! What a relief not to have to struggle to carry it around any more.

But if you had to start wearing the knapsack again, it would seem heavier than ever, partly because your memory isn’t perfect, but mostly because you had gotten used to not being weighed down by it.
In a way, being without that knapsack is like seeing with your new glasses; once you get used to how easy it is to see while wearing them, it can seem intolerable to go back to the way your vision was before. This doesn’t mean the new glasses made your vision worse, it just means you have gotten used to seeing better without all the extra effort.

Changes in Vision over Time

There are many conditions that affect the eyes and our vision, whether we wear glasses or not. Sometimes, the glasses get blamed for these progressive changes even though they are not at fault.

Small changes from day to day can go unnoticed and it is only when we get our vision checked and find we need new eyewear for clear, comfortable vision. Refractive changes, like increasing myopia (nearsightedness) are usually at fault. Adults who need eyeglasses to help them focus on reading materials will experience the need for increased lens power as time passes, a change that is normal and expected in the condition known as presbyopia.

The Right Tool

Regular vision exams are the best way to decrease our sense of shock when it seems that our vision has suddenly worsened. It is easier for us to adapt to small changes in vision correction than to wait too long before getting a new lens prescription. New glasses do not cause your vision to deteriorate, they just make the change more obvious.

We depend on eyeglasses to make vision better and easier, in the same way a carpenter might depend on having the right tool to use for a specific task. Eyeglasses (or contact lenses) are the appropriate tool for better vision; that’s why we use them. They are the easiest way for us to see more clearly.