What Happens If You Wear Old Prescription Glasses?

Do you have a favorite pair of glasses that you see fairly well out of? It’s tempting to assume that you can just continue wearing them for as long as they last.

Many people assume that their vision won’t change much over time, but this is not the case. Subtle changes in your vision and eye health can happen without you noticing.

While a small deterioration in your vision may not seem like a big deal, the longer you go without doing anything about it, the worse it can get.

So what happens when you don’t update your glasses prescription?

Risks of Wearing Outdated Prescription Glasses


man with headache holding glasses off face

Wearing glasses with an old prescription can cause frequent headaches.

If you have an outdated prescription, your eyes will need to work harder to focus on objects, which can cause eye strain and fatigue, leading to headaches.

These headaches can range from mild to severe and can occur frequently, affecting your daily life.

Eye Strain or Blurry Vision

Eye strain is another danger of wearing glasses with an old prescription.

Straining or squinting to see through lenses with the wrong prescription can cause discomfort, eye fatigue, and even blurred vision.

Dizziness or Nausea

woman feeling dizzy while at work

Wearing an old or outdated prescription can also cause dizziness, disorientation or nausea.

That’s because the brain is working harder to process blurry or distorted images received from the eye.

Additionally, the wrong prescription can lead to eye muscle strain, which can cause eye fatigue, blurry vision, and difficulty focusing, all of which can contribute to feeling dizzy or nauseous.

This is especially true when you’re reading or using digital devices for extended periods, as your eyes are continually adjusting to the screen’s changing images.


experiencing vertigo

Sometimes, wearing an outdated prescription can even cause vertigo, which is a sensation of spinning or dizziness.

Vertigo is usually caused by an inner ear imbalance, but can also be caused or exacerbated by poor vision.

In some cases, vertigo caused by wearing an outdated prescription can be severe and debilitating.

It can make it difficult to perform daily activities, such as driving or reading, and can lead to anxiety and depression.

Difficulty Seeing at Night

times square at night

Wearing glasses with an old prescription can cause difficulty seeing in the dark.

An outdated prescription can affect your depth perception, making it harder to judge distances in low-light conditions.

This can make driving at night or in low-light conditions hazardous to both you and others on the road.

Double Vision

Wearing glasses with an outdated prescription can cause double vision, or the perception of two images of a single object.

If you have a significant difference in prescription strength between your two eyes and wear glasses with an outdated prescription, you may experience double vision.

Neck and Shoulder Pain

woman experiencing stiff neck

Wearing glasses with an outdated prescription can even cause neck and shoulder pain if you’re straining to see well.

Increased Risk of Accidents and Injuries

Wearing glasses with an old prescription can increase the risk of accidents and injuries.

Poor vision due to outdated glasses can make it difficult to navigate uneven surfaces or stairs, making stumbling or falling down more likely.

Wearing the Wrong Prescription Long-Term

For most adults with a stable prescription, there are typically no long-term vision problems associated with wearing the wrong prescription for an extended period.

However, all the above short-term effects may hinder your daily life.

On the other hand, children who wear the wrong prescription for a while are more susceptible to long-term vision issues.

How Wearing the Wrong Prescription Affects Children’s Eyes

young girl peering over glasses and book

For children whose eyes are still developing, wearing the wrong prescription glasses can have long-term effects on their vision.

Any diagnosed refractive error – whether it’s nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism – may progress faster if a child’s lenses are not providing the proper correction.

The younger the child, the higher the risk of issues such as lazy eye occurring if not corrected in time.

How Often Should You Update Your Glasses Prescription?

Factors That Affect the Frequency of Prescription Changes

Factors such as your age, eye health, lifestyle, and genetics can all determine how often you should update your prescription.

For example, people with diabetes or a family history of eye problems may need to update their prescription more frequently than others.

Signs That Your Prescription May Have Changed

Several signs indicate that your glasses prescription may have changed. These signs include:

Frequent headaches or eye strain
Blurred or distorted vision
Difficulty reading or focusing on objects
Frequent squinting or eye rubbing
Double vision or shadows
Sensitivity to light or glare

If you experience any of these symptoms, it may be time to update your prescription.

How to Know When You Need to Update Your Prescription

The best way to know when to update your prescription is to get regular eye exams. An eye exam can detect changes in your vision and identify any underlying eye problems.

If your eye doctor detects any changes, he or she may recommend a new prescription.

If you experience any of the signs above or other significant change to your vision, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible. 

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