A large majority of consumers who wear new glasses report some form of visual distortion. Sometimes the distortion is minor and subsides quickly; in other cases, it’s extreme and lasts a long time. So the titular question remains: how long is a reasonable time to adjust to new glasses?
The answer – like most answers concerning eyewear – is a bit complex, and depends on several variables, which we’ll examine below. First let’s list the reported symptoms associated with the wearing of a new pair of glasses:
These effects are due to your eyes adjusting to new lenses. The primary and most common cause of distortion relates to a change in prescription. People often put off eye exams, and when they do have them performed, find that their prescription has altered somewhat. Usually the corrective diopter rating for your eyes – or just one of your eyes – changes as you age, and a slight increase in prescription for one or both eyes is required. To eyes that have grown accustomed to the lenses in your old glasses, any shift in prescription can cause visual distortion.
Another cause could be due to variations between the time you had your exam and the time you first put on your new pair of glasses. Your prescription needs actually fluctuate throughout the day, shifting with the condition of your eyes. “Fresh” eyes function differently than “tired” eyes. It’s recommended that you try to schedule your eye exam when your eyes are fresh, such as in the morning after a good night’s sleep, in order to obtain a good baseline reading.
Differences in frame styles and lens shapes can also affect your vision – frequently more than most people realize. Your eyes get used to the dimensions and boundaries of your old frames and lenses. When you change those dimensions you also change the curve of the lenses, the location of the borders that surround the lenses, etc. This throws off the comfortable and familiar dynamic that you (and your eyes) previously enjoyed.
A switch to a bifocal or trifocal can further complicate the matter. Any type of bifocal or trifocal gives your eyes workout, but progressives cause particularly aggressive distortion because they eliminate the “hard break” of a delineating line. Extra care should be taken when adjusting to new progressive lenses, especially with tasks like driving or walking down stairs.
So, how long is too long to adjust to new glasses? The good news on all the effects described above is that they are temporary. Most people get acclimated to their new glasses within 24-48 hours. It’s important to wear them continuously and not switch back and forth with older glasses; it’s tempting to “give your eyes a rest” from new and different lenses, but only continual exposure to the new lenses will allow your eyes to adjust to them.
If you still experience any appreciable distortion after several days, be sure to discuss the issue with your optometrist. If the situation persists, the problem is likely a faulty prescription reading, in which case a new exam may have to be performed, or a fault with the production of the lenses, in which case new ones must be obtained.
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