“Do I Need Glasses?” 10 Ways to Know For Sure.

Ironically, one of the clearest signs that you might need glasses is the inability to read an actual sign. However, there are many other clues that can reveal if your eyesight needs correcting with glasses (or contact lenses). As I frequently tell my patients who aren’t thrilled to be needing glasses, roughly 60% of the world’s population requires vision correction and 80% of all visual impairment can be avoided or corrected.

Two main types of vision problems

Dr Dieck

William B. Dieck, MD, FAAO

Nearsighted: Difficulty seeing far away. People with myopia (nearsightedness) can see close objects clearly but objects farther away appear blurred. Myopia occurs if the eyeball is too long or the cornea (the clear front cover of the eye) is too curved. As a result, the light entering the eye isn’t focused correctly, and distant objects look blurred.

Farsighted: Difficulty seeing close up. People with hyperopia (farsightedness) can see distant objects very well but have difficulty focusing on objects up close. The eyes have to work harder in order to focus which can result in headaches, eye fatigue and long-term effects.

Many symptoms can signal you need glasses

The following 10 symptoms may reveal that it’s time to get glasses. Keep in mind, though, that the only way to accurately diagnose a vision problem is to see an eye care professional.

  1. Trouble seeing up close or far away. If you can’t recognize an object, person or sign that’s 20 feet away, or if you are having trouble reading newspaper or magazine print, you may be developing farsightedness or nearsightedness. If you find it difficult to see objects both near and far, that may be astigmatism, a common condition involving a curvature of the eye lens or cornea.
  2. Difficulty seeing at night. If your night vision is deteriorating to the point where you really can’t see things accurately at night, you may be experiencing signs of early cataracts, which should be examined as soon as possible.
  3. Trouble adjusting from dark to light. If it takes your eyes a long time to adjust after seeing bright lights on the highway, it likely means the muscles that help your iris contract and expand are weakening, most likely due to age.
  4. Difficulty seeing computer screen images clearly. This may signal farsightedness. Try this test: start each day looking at the same page and see if your vision worsens. Also, sitting too close to the screen may signal nearsightedness.
  5.  Eye strain or fatigue. Do your eyes feel tired after 20 minutes of reading? Eye fatigue results from blurry vision or constantly squinting or blinking to bring items into focus. It can also occur from frequent driving, writing or reading/typing/interacting with a mobile phone. If possible, try taking regular breaks from this activities but if the eye fatigue persists, see your eye doctor.
  6. Frequent headaches. Sometimes the mechanism fails that helps the cornea and lens focus on images, forcing the small muscles in the eye to work harder. The result is eye strain, which can lead to headaches. In other words, when you squint, it can cause headaches, and you may need glasses.
  7.  Double vision. Seeing double may indicate problems with your cornea or eye muscles. It can also be a symptom of cataracts. If you’re experiencing double vision, see your eye care professional immediately.
  8.  Wavy vision. Are objects starting to look like they are under water? When straight lines appear distorted, or colors look faded, it may be a sign of macular degeneration, the deterioration of the central portion of the retina and a leading cause of vision loss.
  9. Seeing halos. Seeing halos around objects (usually more pronounced in the dark) may signal that you are developing cataracts or night vision problems.
  10.  Eye pressure. If you feel pressure behind the eye, it may be a sign of glaucoma, which is highly treatable. Pressure buildup can damage the optic nerve that transmits images to your brain, but not everyone who experiences eye pressure has glaucoma. If this pertains to you, it’s important to get it checked.

The importance of regular eye exams

While the presence of one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean a guaranteed vision problem, an eye exam is recommended as a precaution. It is essential to have a qualified eye doctor examine your eyes to understand what’s causing these changes. It’s the only true way to find out if you need glasses, and to improve your power of observation.

Do you think you might need glasses? Please come see us.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, including headaches or distorted vision, please make an appointment with Westchester Health to see one of our eye specialists for a comprehensive eye exam. The sooner we can accurately diagnose your vision problem, the faster we can help you see more clearly. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.

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By William B. Dieck, MD, FAAO, Director, Ophthalmology Division, Vice President, Westchester Health, member of Westchester Health Physician Partners

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