Glasses, you love them and you hate them. On the one hand, you depend on them to provide clear vision so you can go about your daily activities, such as reading, working at the computer, or driving. On the other hand, they can get foggy in cold or humid weather, slide down your nose, leave marks on the bridge of your nose, and create hassles when they’re misplaced or broken. With these mixed feelings, you may be wondering, "Will I have to wear glasses forever?"
The answer varies from person to person, but here’s the short answer: your vision impairment may change over the years, but your eyesight will never be perfect without intervention. The good news is you have multiple options for correcting your vision. This means you may not necessarily have to wear glasses forever.
Why You Wear Glasses
First, let’s examine some of the reasons you may need glasses. The extent of your eye impairment is an important factor in determining what solution will work best for you and how often you need to use glasses. In some cases, you only need glasses for certain activities, and in that case the biggest hassle is just keeping track of where you put them. For other people, your glasses are a constant presence, and maybe you’re wondering what life would be like without them (we all can dream, right?).
Here are the top reasons for needing glasses:
- Myopia - Myopia is the medical name for nearsightedness. When you are nearsighted, you can see objects that are close (or for those with extreme myopia, very close) to the face. However, objects in the distance appear blurry. Many people with myopia develop the condition in childhood, and it is thought to be primarily hereditary. Unfortunately, myopia is a permanent condition, and children with this disorder typically see a decline in vision acuity until about age 20, when their vision stabilizes to about the same (still nearsighted) condition.
- Hyperopia - Also called farsightedness, hyperopia is a condition in which you can see distant objects (such as when you’re driving), but you have difficulty with close vision, like reading or using a computer. In some cases, children with hyperopia can eventually outgrow the need to wear glasses.
- Astigmatism - Like myopia and hyperopia, astigmatism is a problem with the eye’s ability to focus light correctly on the retina. However, myopia means light focuses in front of the retina, and hyperopia means light focuses behind the retina. With astigmatism, light focuses in more than one place at a time. What this means is that your vision is generally blurry at any distance.
- Presbyopia - Like hyperopia, presbyopia is also a type of farsightedness. However, the two are caused by different conditions of the eye. Presbyopia is age-related farsightedness that develops as the aging eyes change and the natural lens becomes less flexible. Once you develop age-related farsightedness, it is typically a permanent condition.
If you have one of the more common eye conditions, such as myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism, your condition is most likely permanent. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re relegated to glasses for the rest of your life. Let’s look at your choices:
- Glasses - The first solution to many eye problems often is a pair of glasses. They are perhaps the simplest way to correct vision because they require little upkeep or skill to use. However, there are times when glasses are an inconvenience, such as on sunny days or when you’re participating in sports. When glasses begin to feel like more of a hindrance than help, you may want to consider some other options.
- Contacts - Contact lenses offer a variety of options themselves. You can get rigid or soft lenses, depending upon your vision needs and what you are most comfortable with. You have the option of daily wear or extended wear lenses. And, there are even contacts that can be worn only at night in order to reshape the cornea. These lenses, called ortho-k contacts, provide a temporary molding of the cornea, so that no contacts or glasses are needed during the day.
- Intraocular Lenses - Intraocular lenses (IOLs) are kind of like a permanent contact lens that is inserted in the eye. These are typically used to replace the eye’s natural lens following cataract surgery. If you have an IOL placed in one or both eyes, you may no longer need to wear glasses or contacts following the procedure. However, some people still have to wear corrective lenses following IOL insertion.
- LASIK Surgery - LASIK is becoming a more popular choice for vision correction that doesn’t require daily wear of glasses or contacts. It is a more expensive option, but those who undergo the procedure are often happy with the resulting convenience and clear vision. The surgery can have some side effects, such as dry eyes, visual halos, glare, and difficulty seeing to drive at night. If you choose this option, keep in mind that not everyone achieves 20/20 vision after LASIK surgery. Also, people who do obtain clear enough vision to ditch glasses may find themselves still requiring reading glasses as they age, so LASIK is not exactly a complete and permanent fix.
When it comes right down to it, glasses aren’t such a big deal. Pick a pair that reflects your personality and enjoy the fact that you can see your favorite book, TV shows, and people. After all, without your glasses, you wouldn’t even be able to read the instructions on a microwave burrito. If they really become a burden, know that you have options to discuss with your optometrist or ophthalmologist.