The popular belief that glasses weaken your eyes is a myth.
If you wear glasses, chances are you’ve wondered from time to time if they’re making your eyesight worse. Not while you’re wearing them, but when you take them off.
Pretty much everyone will need glasses at some point in their lives. And when it happens to you, you’ll probably ask yourself the question on the lips of specs wearers everywhere: do glasses weaken your eyes?
Struggling to focus on printed matter is an unfortunate sign of ageing. Changes to the lens of the eye as you get older mean you have to move the page further and further away before you can see properly. It’s called presbyopia and it strikes us all, usually by our mid 40s. And most of us end up having to wear glasses.
If you think your eyesight’s got worse since you’ve started wearing glasses, you’re far from alone. But the truth is many eye conditions, including presbyopia, get worse over time by themselves, specs or no specs.
In other words, it seems harder to read things without your glasses because it is. But it was going to happen anyway, and your glasses aren’t to blame.
What your specs have done is got you used to seeing more clearly. So when you take them off, the contrasting blurriness is more noticeable.
Glasses don’t change the process of presbyopia or other eye conditions. But take them off, and your eyes might seem a tad lazy at mustering any remaining focusing power. That’s because the muscles that bend and straighten the lens of your eye haven’t worked as hard when your specs have been doing some of the job.
But your glasses haven’t made your vision worse. The real problem isn’t weak focusing muscles; the real problem is your eye’s lens has become less flexible so it can’t focus as well. And there’s not much you can do about that.
Wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV light might help delay the stiffening of the lens that causes presbyopia. But the only way to escape it completely is to die young. Not a great option!
So if you want to see well throughout life, wearing glasses or contact lenses is pretty much inevitable – and not harmful. You might as well just accept it (and blame your high school careers adviser for not steering you into the lucrative field of optometry!)
Thanks to Professor David Atchinson, Queensland University of Technology for expert information and Jordan’s Seafood Restaurant and HineSight Optometry for filming assistance.
Article appeared on ABC Health & Wellbeing