Honestly, the title says it all here. I was more than 30 years old and had successfully graduated from optometry school before I realized I would benefit from prescription glasses (and I had tons of overly thorough eye exams while I was in school!). I took a few minutes on a slow day in the office and gave myself a glasses prescription. On a whim, I picked out some glasses and made the prescription just to see what it felt like to wear glasses. I had no idea how much wearing glasses throughout the work day would help me! I am not the only person with a story like this, either. Lately I have seen several patients whose lives have been positively impacted by a glasses prescription that the patient didn’t even know they needed! Please read on for my personal story and for some subtle signs that your eyes might need an exam.
I have had “20/20” or better vision my entire life. I played sports, drove and read books for leisure without complaint. I always had good grades and my vision never hindered my learning growing up. I even went to optometry school and didn’t wear prescription glasses or contacts! Think about that- optometry school is a place where you are constantly given eye exams by eye doctors. I had access to any contact lens or glasses I wanted … yet I never wore them. Why? My vision was good!!! I could read, work and play without contacts or glasses. So what changed?
As is often the answer (and problem!) in life: I got older! I was squinting to see at the computer and taking breaks to rub my eyes more often. I could feel my brow and head work hard to see throughout the day. When I would leave work to drive home, I noticed that I wasn’t as comfortable driving after dark as I used to be. It was manageable, mind you, but it wasn’t as easy as it used to be. Then when I would get home and get ready to relax with a book or watch T.V. I noticed I was seeing double on a frequent basis! It was to the point that I would close one eye to watch T.V. or read! I could also see double throughout the day if I was tired or had done a large amount of paper/computer work in the eye clinic that day. I was struggling BUT … my vision was still better than “20/20”.
So on a slow afternoon in the clinic, I played self-doctor and gave myself an eye exam! Mainly I just gave myself a glasses prescription. My first goal was to get things as crisp as I could without squinting. I did this by adding a slight amount of nearsightedness and astigmatism to the prescription. This also would help with the night driving. In younger folks, astigmatism is one of the major causes of squinting and difficulty with night driving. With those problems addressed, I moved onto my double vision. I corrected this by measuring how much prism my eyes could handle looking through. Prism moves images so our eyes don’t have work as hard to converge (or look together). This is extremely beneficial for people like me whose eye muscles tire out after looking at a computer and doing paperwork all day. I made all of the measurements for the glasses and sent them off to the lab.
When I first put them on a few days later, my initial reaction was disorientation. Everything looked better … but it was also different. It almost felt as if the floor were swimming when I moved my head. This only lasted a day or so. After that I took to my glasses like a fish in water. Things were clear looking in the distance without squinting. Car headlights at night seemed less bothersome. Most importantly, I was not seeing double throughout or at the end of the day!! I noticed immediately how much the prism helped me work at the computer throughout the day. Then I could go home, take my glasses off and my rested eyes had no trouble reading or watching T.V. in the evenings. I would even argue that my general mood improved: It is incredible how much better you feel when you are not straining through your eyes all day!
So that is how a pair of prescription glasses changed my day to day life in both work and leisure. I wear glasses all the time now and have prescription in my sunglasses for times when I’m outdoors. Not everyone’s story is the same, however. I have handled several cases similar to mine lately and here are some of the common complaints I have heard in the exam room: eye strain; vision is blurry at times; I see double; eyes are ‘tired’ at the end of the day; I squint; the computer makes my head hurt. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good count of some common complaints that might indicate it’s time for an eye exam no matter good you think your vision is. Oh there is one more big complaint I forgot to mention … getting older! If you are in your 30’s or 40’s, pay attention to your visual health!