How Long Does An Eyeglass Prescription Last?

Whether you’re a regular glasses wearer or just joined the ranks of four-eyes, it’s important to understand how long your prescription lasts. But if you’re seeing just fine out of your current pair of glasses, is it really necessary to get a new prescription?

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How Long Do Eyeglass Prescriptions Last?

glasses and eyeglass prescription

Eyeglass prescriptions typically last between one and two years.

Most states have laws that dictate how long an eyeglass prescription is valid. In general, your prescription is good for one year, though some states allow up to two years.

Due to changes that can occur in your vision or overall health, it’s recommended that you get an updated prescription every one to two years.

According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), low-risk adults between the ages of 18-64 should have an eye exam at least every couple of years.

They also recommend people age 65 and older to have annual eye exams. Your doctor may recommend more frequent exams, depending on your personal risk factors or other health conditions.

If you experience any changes to your vision such as blurred vision, headaches, or eyestrain it’s important to get an eye exam sooner than the usual one-to-two-year period.

Can I Get Glasses with an Expired Prescription?

male optician holding glasses

By law, you shouldn’t be able to get eyeglasses with an expired prescription.

The dispenser that fills your glasses order should verify your prescription with your prescribing doctor before making your glasses.

It’s important to get an updated prescription to ensure you’re getting the best vision correction possible.

If you try to use an expired prescription, it might not correct your vision to the proper strength you currently need.

That being said, if you buy prescription glasses online, some retailers allow you to enter your prescription in the checkout process without verifying it with your eye care professional.

This can be convenient, but it’s important to make sure your prescription is up-to-date before you order.

How To Get Glasses With An Expired Prescription

Can I Use My Contact Lens Prescription for New Glasses?

glasses and a couple contact lens packets

No, glasses and contact lens prescriptions are separate. Your contact lens prescription might give you a rough estimate of the power you need for your glasses, but it shouldn’t be used as an exact measurement.

This is because glasses sit farther away from your eyes than contacts do, so the refractive power needed to correct your vision may be different.

Additionally, glasses and contacts can have different base curves and optical characteristics, so it’s important to get an accurate prescription for both.

What To Do If Your Prescription Has Expired

expired prescription glasses on eye chart

If your prescription has expired, the best course of action is to schedule an eye exam with your eye doctor.

But what if you can’t get in to see your doctor right away? You can renew your prescription online by taking a virtual vision test at some retailers such as Warby Parker or Lensabl.

You’ll need a smartphone or computer, your expired prescription, and your email address.

The way it works is, you take a quick eye exam using your digital device, either with or without your glasses depending on the test.

Your results are then sent to an optometrist in your state who can renew or write you a new prescription based on the results.

It’s important to note that virtual vision tests don’t replace an in-person eye exam with your doctor.

Additionally, not everyone is eligible for a virtual vision test. It’s only allowed in certain states, and only for people between the ages of 18-55 who need single-vision correction.

What If I Don’t Have A Copy Of My Old Prescription?

going through papers to find glasses prescription

Ideally, you should be able to get a copy of your prescription from your optometrist or ophthalmologist.

If you’re unable to get it and have your current pair of glasses on hand, you can use a prescription scanner to “read” the power of your prescription lenses. and Liingo Eyewear both offer free prescription scanners where you scan the lenses on your current pair of glasses with your smartphone and laptop.

After the scan finishes, it takes a few minutes before it tells you what your current prescription strength is.

Can I Still Use My Old Eyeglasses If My Prescription Has Changed?

man in public wearing eyeglasses and hat

While it’s certainly better than walking around semi-blind, wearing your old eyeglasses with an outdated prescription can cause eye strain, headaches, and other vision-related issues.

In most cases, your prescription will change a bit every one-to-two-year period. So if you haven’t had an eye exam in over two years, it’s safe to assume that your prescription has probably changed – even if only a tiny bit.

It’s important to keep that in mind and make sure you’re getting a new pair of glasses or contacts with an updated prescription. That way, you can ensure you’re seeing clearly and your eyes are comfortable all day long.

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