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Seeing Clearly: The Top 9 Signs It Might Be Time for Glasses

It's inevitable -- our vision naturally changes throughout our lives. Here's how to know it's time to get glasses.

Taylor Leamey Senior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
Expertise Bachelor of Science, Psychology and Sociology Credentials
  • Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach
Taylor Leamey
4 min read
Woman trying on glasses in the mirror.
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Despite having amazing eyesight when you were younger, you'll see changes in your vision as you age. It's nothing you're doing, it's a natural process our eyes go through. When most people hit middle age, the eye's ability to focus on things up close decreases. It's called presbyopia.  

But that's not the only change that can take place in your vision. Some happen without you even noticing. 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

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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:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle spasms of the eyes 
  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sore back and neck
  • Blurred vision
Man sitting in front of a computer in the dark, rubbing his eyes.
Dmitry Marchenko/Getty Images

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. 

Woman rubbing her eye because she has a headache.
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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.