Does not wearing glasses make your eyesight worse?

21 April 2022

Author: Kate Green

wearing glasses makes eyesight worse

How do glasses work?


More than 60% of the British population wear glasses and this number is rising all the time. As common as glasses are, how many people actually know exactly how they work and why it benefits your vision to wear them? People find themselves with blurry vision due to the shape and size of the cornea in relation to the eyeball. Your cornea (the top layer of your eye) is where light is focused, presenting us with the image that we see. If there are imperfections on the cornea, the light cannot focus properly, leading to blurry or distorted vision.


Glasses work by bending light as it enters your eye to focus it perfectly on your retina. The retina is a layer of tissue at the back of your eye and its primary purpose is to receive light from the lens, sending signals to the brain to process it into a visual image. You can read more about the structure of the eye and how its different components work together on our blog.


Why is wearing glasses important?


Now we know how glasses work, we should look into why people are short-sighted or long-sighted. Essentially, short-sightedness occurs when your eyeball grows too long, while long-sightedness occurs when your eyeball hasn’t grown enough and is too short. Glasses help to rectify this, ensuring the light that enters your eye is refracted properly onto your retina. This is especially important as when the retina receives a clear image, it helps the eye to develop. If the retina is constantly receiving blurry images, the eye can’t develop as it should. This is one of the most clear cut arguments for wearing glasses if you need them, particularly as a child, teenager or young adult when your eye is still developing and your vision is changing.


All around the world, the belief is held that wearing glasses makes your vision worse. In Nigeria, 64% of students believe that wearing glasses damages your eyes, while the same is thought by 30% in India and 69% in Pakistan. Most shockingly, even medical staff in Brazil thought that wearing glasses makes your eyes weaker, subsequently leading to worse vision.


The most plausible solution that people have put forward to explain this belief depends on changing vision. People find that their vision is worse, so they invest in some glasses with the correct prescription. Over the following months or years, their eyesight continues to change, for example if their prescription isn’t stable or if their natural lens stiffens with age, leading to the need for reading glasses. These changes occur naturally, or sometimes due to increased digital screen exposure, but not because the act of wearing glasses causes vision to deteriorate.


Symptoms caused by not wearing glasses


If you need to wear glasses or contact lenses, but you choose not to, you are likely to experience a number of symptoms. This is because your eyes have to work harder to focus and you might even find yourself squinting to read things properly. Common side effects of not wearing your glasses when you need them can include:

  • Nausea
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Eye muscles weakening
  • Headaches


These symptoms can also be caused by wearing glasses with the wrong prescription, as your eyes are still working hard to try to focus. If you haven’t ever needed glasses but are now experiencing these symptoms, you should go for an eye test to discover if your vision is the culprit.


The above symptoms are temporary and will usually disappear once you are wearing glasses with the correct prescription. However, if you have been diagnosed with strabismus or amblyopia, the effects of not wearing glasses can be even more serious. You can read more about strabismus and amblyopia on our blog but these are conditions where the eyes do not work together cohesively. This can lead to one eye becoming weaker, with the brain beginning to ignore its visual signals. This means that any mismatch in the alignment between both eyes worsens, resulting in worse vision and a more obvious cosmetic issue. There are specialised glasses that can be prescribed to help minimise the symptoms, and not wearing these glasses undoubtedly results in worse vision.


To summarise...


Essentially, ditching your glasses does not help to improve your vision, so you should really be wearing them, or another visual aid such as contact lenses, as often as possible. Going about daily life without glasses forces your eyes to work harder and can cause you to experience a number of unpleasant symptoms, as detailed above. For children, not wearing glasses can actively cause damage to the eye as it is still growing, relying on clear visual signals to develop properly.


If you really don’t like wearing glasses, be that for cosmetic or practical reasons, vision correction surgery could be an option for you. At Optimax, we offer laser eye surgery, implantable contact lenses, refractive lens exchange treatment, or cataract surgery. To find out which treatment is likely to be most suitable for you, visit our suitability calculator and enter your prescription and age. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 0800 093 1110 or email for further information.

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