Does Pupillary Distance Change with Age?


When you get new glasses, it’s not just about picking a frame that looks good. There’s a crucial detail called pupillary distance (PD) that plays a big role. It’s like making sure the lenses are perfectly placed in the frame so you can see clearly and comfortably. Now, let’s dig into why this pupillary distance matters and figure out if it changes as we get older.


Pupillary Distance Defined

Pupillary distance refers to the measurement between the centers of the pupils, usually expressed in millimeters. This seemingly simple metric holds immense importance when it comes to crafting eyewear. It serves as a key factor in ensuring that the optical centers of lenses align perfectly with the wearer’s pupils, optimizing visual acuity and comfort.

Why Pupillary Distance Matters

The alignment of lenses with the pupils is crucial for various reasons. First and foremost, it directly influences the accuracy of prescription eyewear. A misaligned pupillary distance can lead to distorted vision, eye strain, and headaches. Additionally, proper pupillary distance ensures that the wearer can fully benefit from the chosen eyewear, especially in the case of multifocal lenses.

Beyond the technicalities, pupillary distance plays a significant role in the aesthetics and balance of eyeglasses. Well-fitted eyewear enhances not only vision but also the overall appearance and comfort of the wearer.

Getting Your Pupillary Distance Right

To obtain your pupillary distance measurement, you can either visit your local optometrist or optical lab and have it measured by machine (using a “corneal reflex pupillometer) or you can measure pupil distance yourself with a millimeter ruler. We recommend that if you measure pupillary distance yourself, you try several attempts to be sure you get a fairly accurate measurement.

Pupillary Distance by the Numbers

Examples of pupillary distance measurements are listed below, indicating the typical ranges for various groups.

  • Average pupillary distance for an adult is between 54-68mm, with acceptable measurement deviations generally falling in between 48mm and 73mm.
  • The range for children is approximately 41-55mm.
  • The large majority (95 percentile) of adult males in the USA have a pupillary distance of 70mm while a small minority (5 percentile) measure 55mm.
  • The range for adult females in the USA is between 65mm and 53mm.
  • For Europeans the figures equate to roughly 1mm smaller than the above measurements.

The Journey Across Ages

Now, let’s address the burning question: Does pupillary distance change with age? The short answer is yes, but it’s essential to understand the nuances.

In childhood and adolescence, the eyes undergo significant growth and development. Pupillary distance tends to vary during this phase of life. However, as we enter adulthood, the changes become more subtle. Age-related shifts in pupillary distance are generally minimal but can occur due to factors such as changes in facial structure, muscle tone, and, in some cases, presbyopia—a common age-related condition affecting near vision.

So, even if you’ve already measured or know the pupillary distance of your child or teenager, it’s best to measure it again before buying a new pair of glasses. It’s very possible that a growth spurt has altered their measurements somewhat. But if you’re measuring for yourself or an adult in their early twenties or older, chances are the pupillary distance will remain constant for the rest of that full-grown adult’s life.


As always, feel free to contact us if you have questions regarding the measurement of pupillary distance or any other questions or concerns.

  1. Martha says:

    My optometrist office will not give my PD without a charging me. Is this legal or does it vary with different insurance plans?

  2. Kelly says:

    Just got a new script and my PD was 68 now it’s 67 which number should I use I’m 66

  3. Connie M Hale says:

    My most recent eyeglass prescription shows my PD at 56. I can find two of my previous prescriptions and they were both 57. I am 71 so my skull is definitely done growing. Is it okay to have a difference of 1 or should I notify the place that did the exam. I’m having lenses put into existing frames so hopefully if it needs to be corrected, I can notify them before they have them sent in.

  4. Sandy McKenzie says:

    What if you have several different numbers that people have measured for you?I have checked with different Dr. To have it done and not even my own Dr.won’t measure me.

    • rxsafety says:

      Hi Sandy,

      If the numbers are around the same, I would take the average of them. Your eye doctor may not want to do the measuring of the pupil distance, if you are not planning to purchase your eyeglasses from them. By law, it is a part of your prescription and is something they should provide to you.

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