Optimism tells you that your new glasses with the updated prescription will surely make the world around you clearer. And they do! But then you walk outside and everything looks a little off. Maybe the ground looks slanted, causing dizziness, or you find yourself fighting back headaches or nausea. Your new glasses are making you feel ill, and that can’t be right. But actually, it’s a perfectly normal part of breaking in a new pair.
Why do glasses need to be broken in?
If you’ve been wearing glasses for years, you might be familiar with the challenge of adjusting to a new pair. These effects don’t necessarily mean there’s an issue with your prescription, though—more likely, your eyes simply need time to adjust.
“The image the brain is used to seeing has now changed,” says Dr. Lilan Le, an optometrist at HEYWEAR. “The brain has learned to compensate for your current prescriptions and a degree of motion sickness that comes with it. By changing the vision, the brain and muscles of the eye must relearn and adapt.”
It can take anywhere from a couple of days to weeks to adjust, and the eyes aren’t adapting solely to the change in prescription.
“The curvature of the lens, the shape of the lens, and the position of the lens in the frame, the optical centre, pupillary distance, all affect the sight,” says Dr. Bhavin Shah, a behavioral optometrist and visual performance specialist. “It’s sometimes like buying a new pair of shoes—they take breaking in.”
What effects can new glasses have on the eyes?
Adjusting to new eyeglasses can cause eye strain that leads to headaches, dizziness, or even blurry vision. The degree of motion sickness that Le mentioned can cause some people to feel nauseous, and Shah adds that the eyes can feel a “pulling” sensation or the illusion of feeling taller or shorter, or walking on sloped or slanted ground.
“The vision can appear ‘strange,’ but it should still be clear,” Shah says.
How to adjust to a new pair of glasses
Although the symptoms are uncomfortable, experts advise you to continue wearing the glasses—if you take too long of a break from them, you’ll have to break them in all over again. Instead, take it slow. Start by wearing the glasses for short periods of time each day, and gradually increase wear time each day. Le recommends wearing the glasses for an hour the first day, then two the next, and increasing in one-hour increments until they can be worn all day without discomfort.
“It is important to keep the glasses on as long as possible and to not switch between different prescriptions or pairs of glasses,” Le says.
If the symptoms are severe and last more than two weeks, there may be a manufacturing or measurement error. Talk to your eye doctor or lens provider if you have concerns or think the prescription may be incorrect.