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  • Writer's pictureBruce Salinger

Can Wearing the Wrong Prescription Damage Your Eyesight?

Once you hit a certain age, it can seem like eyesight starts to go downhill rapidly. You may notice blurry vision, glare, dry eyes, problems focusing and depth perception problems. When you point this out, your friends and family may blame going too long without updating your glasses. Is it possible to damage your vision if you wear the wrong prescription too long?

Does Wearing Old Glasses Ruin Your Eyesight?

According to vision experts, an incorrect or old prescription won’t damage your eyes. You don’t have to worry about developing cataracts or having your eyesight get worse because of wearing old glasses. Wrong prescriptions don’t cause glaucoma either.

Why Do You Need To Wear the Correct Prescription?

Even though sticking with outdated glasses won’t ruin your eyesight, that doesn’t mean you should wear them. Getting the correct prescription is a smart investment for eye health and happiness:

  • Eye strain: Without proper corrective lenses, your eyes have to work harder to let you focus on words and images. Like any other muscle in your body, eye muscles can get tired out, too. When this happens, your eyes feel sore, dry, blurry and more sensitive to light.

  • Discomfort: The wrong prescription may not hurt your eyesight, but it can cause literal pain. Many people experience headaches, fatigue and overall discomfort when they don’t wear the correct eyeglasses. Plus, eye strain can trigger sore neck muscles and back pain.

  • Work problems: It’s hard to concentrate at work and get things done when your eyesight seems out of focus. Wearing the wrong prescription in one or both eyes can make you feel dizzy and nauseous. You may need to take frequent breaks to let your eyes rest, interrupting your workflow.

  • Car accidents: It’s not safe to drive when you can’t see the road in front of you clearly. Not only may you hit something by accident, but you might also cause a crash because of braking erratically. Going without your prescription glasses is also a serious violation that can get you in trouble with the law if you’re stopped.

  • Injuries: Even walking around the house or going for a walk outdoors can be dangerous without the correct prescription. Of course, this depends on how blurry your eyesight is. If you have trouble seeing clearly, you can trip on a raised part of the sidewalk, a branch or an uneven patch of ground.

What Causes Vision Changes?

The most common cause of prescription changes is age. As you get older, parts of the eye become less flexible or clear. The retina starts to require more light to see clearly. These things can require periodic updates to your prescription contacts or eyeglasses.

How Often Should You Get an Eye Exam?

Eye health professionals recommend scheduling an eye exam every two years until age 65, and once a year after that. That way, your prescription stays up to date and you enjoy better eyesight for your favorite activities.

Keep in mind that your prescription isn’t the only purpose of an eye exam. The eye doctor also checks for vision issues such as increased eye pressure, cataracts and macular degeneration.

A vision exam is an annual checkup for eye health. Getting more antioxidants (think dark berries) in your diet is great for preventing age-related eye problems, too.


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