I’ve always had really good vision. It was a humble brag I carried in my back pocket. But over the last few months, I’ve noticed that I’ve been squinting at my computer and phone. It got bad enough that I would have to step away because I gave myself recurring eye strain.
So I went to the eye doctor. Yes, I have good vision, but I’ve got a screen vision problem thanks to moderate astigmatism I’ve ignored for years. Astigmatism is a refractive error that happens when the lens or cornea of the eye isn’t shaped as it should be. It’s extremely common — according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, one in three people lives with it.
Now I write this without squinting, thanks to the prescription eyeglasses pinned to my face by my headphones. Take it from me; just because you can see things doesn’t mean you see them as clearly as you could. Here are the subtle signs that you may need glasses.
For more health advice, see how to naturally stop itchy eyes and how to extend your life by sleeping.
9 things telling you it’s time to get glasses
1. You’re squinting to see things
As you’re reading this, are you squinting? If so, relax your face. Are the words slightly blurry now? If so, you may need glasses.
Squinting is a natural reaction we do when we need to bring things into focus. By squinting, the eye’s lens changes shape, and less light enters the retina, allowing things to look sharper. Constant squinting while looking at things is one of the most obvious signs of vision troubles.
2. Blurry vision
Blurry vision is another one of the main reasons I went to the eye doctor. Over time I noticed that the letters on my phone’s keyboard were blurring while I was typing. In my case, it was caused by astigmatism. However, blurry vision may also be a sign of near or farsightedness. All of which can be corrected with glasses.
3. You’re experiencing eye strain
Eye strain results from several sources, including poor lighting, stress and fatigue. But it also can come from consistent computer use and underlying vision conditions that cause you to squint to see better. Eye strain can hinder your ability to concentrate and complete your usual routine. Essentially, eye strain means that your eyes are tired.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, common symptoms of eye strain include:
- Muscle spasms of the eyes
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Sore back and neck
- Blurred vision
4. You have to hold books closer to see them clearly
Do you ever start reading a book or magazine and realize you’re holding it closer to your face than you used to? It’s like it creeps closer and closer without your notice.
Most commonly, this happens because of presbyopia, or the decreased ability to focus and see things up close. It’s often also called age-related farsightedness. It generally starts to happen around age 40. Presbyopia naturally happens as we age and can easily be corrected with glasses.
5. It’s harder to see at night
Night blindness, which describes the difficulty of seeing things in dimly lit settings or darkness, can also signify that you need glasses. There are many reasons this may occur; for example, it may be as simple as being nearsighted or having a difficult time seeing things that are far away.
More seriously, night blindness may also be a symptom of cataracts or the clouding of the lens, retinitis pigmentosa or tunnel vision caused by dark pigments in the retinas. Night blindness is particularly important to address as it compromises your driving ability.
6. Your eyes take a while to adjust to changes in light
Our eyes are designed to adjust to light thanks to the iris, the colored part of your eye. The iris is in charge of adjusting the pupil, the opening in the iris. When the pupil dilates, it allows in more light, which helps you see when it’s dark. The iris contracts the pupil when it’s bright. There are times when the iris doesn’t adjust as quickly.
If your eye takes longer than usual to adjust, it’s time to talk to your doctor to see if eyeglasses can help correct this.
7. You have frequent headaches
Headaches can happen for various reasons, such as dehydration, diet, stress and hormones. Another common reason is vision problems. Understandably, with so many causes, it can be hard to attribute a headache to any one thing. That’s why so many people go without glasses when they need them.
Take note of your habits. Are you squinting or holding things close to your face? Getting glasses can alleviate eye-related headaches.
8. Distorted vision
Distorted or wavy vision is often described as things looking underwater. Lines and colors are distorted as it looks as if waves are rippling across them. Wavy vision can be a sign of macular degeneration or the deterioration of the retina and loss of central vision. Macular degeneration is not curable. However, you can slow the progression of the condition. Prescription glasses specifically for macular degeneration can help manage symptoms.
9. Seeing halos
Have you noticed that lights at night tend to spread out? Like a halo around the source? Seeing halos around lights like headlights or street lamps is another sign that you may need glasses. Halos are symptoms of several vision problems: astigmatism, near and farsightedness and cataracts.
Don’t ignore your symptoms
If any signs in this list sound familiar, it’s time to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. Just because you’re making it work doesn’t mean your vision is as good as possible. Why not see life to the fullest?
But it’s more than that. Ignoring vision problems can threaten your health. Poor vision can increase your risk of injury or decrease your quality of life. It also can feel incredibly isolating and contribute to depression or anxiety.
For more health tips, see which common foods are bad for your teeth and how to weigh yourself correctly.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.