Table of Contents
If your vision changes, you may need glasses. (Learn More) What kinds of glasses should you get? You may need a combination of different types of glasses to improve your vision and keep your eyes healthy. (Learn More)
If you are in certain age groups, you may need to get your eyes checked more or less frequently. However, you should always go to your eye doctor if you experience a sudden change in your vision. (Learn More)
Children may not know how to tell you when they need new glasses, so it is important to know behavioral changes that signal they need a prescription. (Learn More)
Taking care of your glasses once you have a prescription can help them last for a long time. (Learn More)
Why Do I Need to Get My Eyes Checked for New Glasses?
If you experience changes in your ability to read, work on a computer, or see distances, you may have a refractive error that needs a prescription for glasses. You may also develop headaches, itchy eyes, flashes of light, or simply cannot remember when you last had an eye exam. It may be time to head to the optometrist for a full workup.
You may find that your vision is changing, and you need over-the-counter reading glasses. You may find that you have an underlying condition that needs monitoring and a new prescription. Your optometrist may recommend specific sunglasses to protect your vision during bright daytime hours because your eyes are developing sun damage.
There are many reasons to get glasses, but this decision should be based on an eye doctor’s recommendation. If you notice changes in your vision, purchasing over-the-counter glasses should not be the first step. Even if you find a pair that improves your visual acuity, it is important to know if there are underlying reasons your eyes are changing.
What Kinds of Glasses Are Used for What Activities?
- Standard Eyeglasses: One of the oldest methods used to correct vision, glasses are a set of plastic or glass lenses held by frames at a certain distance from the eye. The lenses in the glasses are different shapes and thicknesses to correct refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Glasses can also be used to improve visual acuity for people with cataracts or glaucoma.
- Single vision glasses are all-purpose lenses, although one lens is sometimes shaped differently because the prescription in that eye is different than the other eye. In contrast, multifocal lenses — bifocals and trifocals being the most famous — correct for both near and far vision problems.
- Progressive lenses function like bifocals or trifocals, but the prescription change is not abrupt. Instead, it is smooth from the middle or top of the lens to the bottom, where the prescription treats farsightedness.
- Reading glasses: These glasses specifically correct presbyopia, a form of farsightedness that begins around age 40 and progresses through middle and older adulthood. For people who already need glasses, presbyopia may mean they need bifocals. For those without any visual acuity problems, they find they need glasses for up-close tasks like reading.
- See an optometrist for a prescription, but you may be able to purchase reading glasses over the counter. However, if your visual changes have surpassed +3.00, then you will need prescription reading glasses.
- UV sunglasses: Spending hours in the sun without eye protection can damage your eyesight over time. Even wearing sunglasses that do not filter out ultraviolet (UV) radiation can lead to damaged eyes.
- If you have questions about which sunglasses offer 100 percent UV protection, ask your optometrist for recommendations. It is important to note that these glasses only protect against the sun as a source of UV radiation. Arc welding, tanning beds, or snowfields require different UV filtering eye protection.
- Transition lenses: If you often wear glasses, you may not want to carry prescription sunglasses with you everywhere or clip on sunglasses over your normal glasses. Many people instead opt for transition lenses, which darken in bright light. These lenses typically protect against UV radiation, but they may darken when you are indoors in bright light, which is less convenient.
How Often Should I Go to My Optometrist?
If your vision changes and you cannot see clearly, you should get glasses or new glasses. Your eye doctor will diagnose the condition causing these changes, which are most often refractive errors like nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism, and write a prescription so you can improve your visual acuity.
How often should you see the doctor? There are specific recommendations for how often you should get your eyes checked even if nothing has changed, and these are based on age. If you experience a sudden, dramatic change in vision, you should also see your optometrist immediately. Along with changes to your prescription, an optometrist can write referrals to specialists in the event that a different condition caused the visual changes.
At different ages, you will get your eyes checked at different frequencies.
- A baby’s first eye exam should be at 6 months old, and these exams should occur every 6 months until 2 years old.
- Between 3 and 5 years old, the child should get an eye exam at least once.
- Between 6 and 18 years old, the child should have an eye exam annually, including one right before starting 1st
- Young adults from 18 to 39 years old should get an eye exam at least every other year, although it may be important to undergo an annual eye exam for changing eyesight.
- Middle-aged adults, 40 to 64 years old, should get an eye exam at least every other year.
- Older adults, starting at 65 years old, should get an eye exam every year.
Of course, you can also get new glasses if you want different frames, your old frames are out of style, or your frames break. As long as your prescription is current, you can get as many pairs of glasses as you want when you want them.
What Are the Warning Signs That a Child Needs New Glasses?
It may be hard for a child to articulate that they cannot see clearly because they do not know they should see the world differently. As their parent, you may notice a few changes in their behavior that indicate they need glasses.
- Sitting too close to the television
- Holding a book very close to their face or peering close to their textbooks while studying
- Losing their place frequently while reading
- Using a finger to follow along the sentences while reading
- Squinting at objects
- Tilting their head
- Rubbing their eyes
- Developing a sensitivity to light
- Excessive tearing
- Closing one eye to perform tasks better
- Avoiding activities that specifically require near or far vision
- Complaining about headaches
- Complaining about tired eyes
- Getting lower grades
Take Care of Your Glasses and They Can Last for Years
Once you have glasses, you want to take care of them, so they last as long as possible. Consumer Reports offers some tips to extend the life of your glasses.
- Wipe your glasses with a special cloth, and do not wipe them with other cloths while dry.
- Do not use paper products to clean your glasses.
- Do not use ammonia, bleach, vinegar, or window cleaner on your glasses.
- Do not spit on your lenses to clean them.
- Clean your glasses with warm water and a pea-sized amount of dish detergent. Dry with a soft cotton cloth.
- Use a hard-shell glasses case to safely transport your glasses.
- Keep lenses facing upward when you put your glasses down to prevent scratching.
- Use both hands to take glasses on and off to prevent warping the frame.
- Do not leave glasses in a hot car because the plastic can warp.
Glasses can be a trendy fashion statement regardless of your age and how often you wear these corrective items. Taking care of them extends their life. Getting your eyes checked regularly means you have the most up-to-date prescription to improve your sight.
Eyeglasses and Contact Lenses. University of Rochester Medical Center.
Common Vision Problems. National Eye Institute (NEI), National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Eyeglasses for Vision Correction. (December 12, 2015). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
Sunglasses: Protection from UV Eye Damage. (April 21, 2014). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
The Pros and Cons of Transition Sunglasses Lenses. (June 30, 2017). American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
Recommended Eye Examination Frequency for Pediatric Patients and Adults. American Optometric Association (AOA).
Eyeglasses: Frequently Asked Questions. (July 2018). All About Vision.
How to Take Care of Your Glasses. (August 2012). Consumer Reports.