The myth has been whispered between spectacle-wearers for decades: glasses are actually ruining your eyes and worsening your eyesight over time.
This fable likely strikes fear into the hearts of anyone who wears glasses daily or depends on them for things like reading, driving and working. Are you really causing your eyes more harm than good?
In this article we will explore different hypotheses of this theory and debunk this myth once and for all.
Why Do We Wear Glasses In The First Place?
As of October 2014, more than 225 million Americans wore some sort of corrective lens to improve their eyesight. Of those 225 million people, 64 percent elected glasses as their lens of choice.
The two leading reasons why people wear glasses couldn’t be more different.
- Myopia: Myopia, or short- or near-sightedness, causes 30 percent of glasses-users to have trouble focusing on objects that are far in the distance.
- Hyperopia: Hyperopia, or long- or far-sightedness, affects the close-up vision of nearly 60 percent of people who wear spectacles.
For many individuals in the US, glasses are required to see books, road signs, and computer screens or to simply live day-to-day lives. In fact, one report claims that over 70 percent of the American work force requires corrective eyewear for daily usage. But could constantly wearing glasses do our eyes more harm than good?
Before we delve deeply into debunking this myth, it should be noted that there is a surprisingly small amount of research and clinical trials done on the prolonged effect of wearing glasses.
- A Nigerian study in 2013 concluded that 64% of students believed glasses could be harmful.
- The medical staff of a study conducted in Brazil believes that eyesight can weaken from wearing glasses.
- A 2002 clinical trial in Malaysia completely buried the hypothesis that under-correcting children’s eyesight could prolong the negative effects of glasses.
The Facts About Eyesight And Wearing Glasses
In order to come to a solid conclusion on this myth, it’s necessary to understand some simple facts about eyesight.
- Eyesight is not static, meaning it’s in a constant state of change. Even people with 20/20 vision experience constantly changing eyesight. Consider how your eyes feel after staring at a computer screen for a few hours: your eyes are likely heavy, tired and watery from having to constantly adjust to what they are seeing.
- Glasses are used to correct refractive errors in the eye, meaning they have to pick up the slack from the eye’s lens. A healthy, full-sighted lens is able to focus on the image we see and reflect it to the retina, where signals are transferred to our brain to create sight. When the lens has trouble focusing on an object, our brains ultimately struggle to make sense of the image which leads to squinting and more.
When fitted for glasses, a prescription is developed to correct 100% of your eyesight. Consider, then, getting your eyes checked after a long day of work. Chances are your eyes will be much more tired, strained and irritated than they typically are. So every time you wear your glasses, your eyes are forced to adapt to the same “tired-eye” conditions, even if they are wrong.
Because glasses help us to see better, we often find ourselves relying on them more or needing them more frequently than usual. For most of us, we simply conclude that the glasses are making our eyes worse. However, there is no correlation between worsening eyesight and increasing necessity for corrective lenses. Glasses or not, your eyesight will likely remain unaffected in the long run.
How Does Wearing Glasses Affect Children?
With one in every four children suffering from poor eyesight, it’s important to reflect on how glasses affect young eyes.
For years, many parents and eye professionals assumed that by deliberately under-correcting for shortsightedness, or giving children weaker prescriptions than actually needed, they could slow down the progression of myopia and force the eye to focus. However, the longest study to ever be conducted on children’s eyesight recently concluded that this actually causes greater damage to the eye and worsens eyesight at a faster rate.
Furthermore, with 80 percent of the brain’s visual learning happening in the first twelve years of life, providing children with proper eye care is vital for their education and proper brain functioning. By under-correcting or neglecting vision in children, they risk developing a “lazy eye” or amblyopia, which is a result of the retina constantly retaining fuzzy, blurred images.
With little statistics to draw on and arguably weak evidence to support the theory, it’s safe to say that glasses do not cause more harm than good to your eyes. However, this is a largely circumstantial conclusion, assuming that you maintain proper vision health, undergo regular eye exams, and are under the quality care of a professional optometrist.
By neglecting your eyesight and not wearing proper glasses, you could potentially cause long-term damage to your vision. Ensure your vision health is in good hands with the eye care professionals at VSP Direct. With affordable vision insurance plans and a staff of dependable eye-care experts, you can rest assured knowing your eyes are well looked after.