I say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ because it depends if you are talking about them as a long term or a short-term solution to your short-sighted problem. So ‘yes’ they improve vision in the short term. They work as a quick fix. But if worn all the time, they end up harming your vision.
While they quickly bring focus to the blur, as you use them more regularly and then constantly, your eyes rely on the glasses or contact lenses to provide that focus.
Your eyes become weaker as a result. Eventually the prescriptions become stronger and stronger. Your eyes get stuck in close up mode. So, in answer to that question ‘do glasses improve vision?’ the answer to that in the long run is a resounding ‘no’!
My worsening sight:
I have found an old prescription from April 2009. It shows -4.75 for my right eye and -4.50 for my left eye. These numbers refer to the power of the lens in diopters; the larger the number, the stronger the lens. Going forward 7 years and 4 months to August 2017, my right eye is still -4.75 but my left eye has dropped significantly more to -5.25.
Next comes the astigmatism measurements for each eye. (This is where the eyeball and/or cornea is warped). The cylinder results are the same but the axis results have changed (going from 50 to 60 in the right and from 155 to 160 in the left). See my post on astigmatism for more information on this topic.
This is not good.
I think my worsening sight is down to a heavy reliance on using spectacles to see both things close up and far away rather than maintaining good eye habits. So not putting all the blame on the glasses! I have to take some responsibility too. However, I don’t see much in the way of training on using glasses properly and/or good eye habits. Sounds a bit crazy but in reality it is needed.
Avoid using glasses for close up work if possible:
Most opticians encourage people with short sight to wear glasses even from a young age. First it is to for when you are watching TV and for the school board. Then, when your eyes get weaker they are to be worn for more activities and then eventually it is for everything.
They are fixed to your face from morning to night! However, this approach seems flawed. The glasses become the crutch that your eyes slowly become reliant on; it is as if they forget how to work because that job has been given over to the spectacles or contact lenses!
So, if my prescription was weaker now I would try to not become reliant on them. I would leave them for only activities that I need to see far off. So for close work like looking at the PC I would keep them off if possible. Only if my eyes were comfortable and not strained.
However, with the prescription that I have that is not possible for me unless I go up very close. I have started to wear my old glasses with weaker prescriptions to try to get my eyes to get working for themselves. Initially I found this hard but now my eyes are slowly getting used to this.
There are various rules out there to help remember to take a break from computer work such as the 20:20:20 rule. This says that after 20 minutes in front of the computer, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
There are other rules but they have the same concept: your eyes need a break from time to time from constantly looking at a screen close up!
Are opticians to blame for this?
I don’t think so myself. They have bought into the same misguided belief that glasses are good. Glasses provide that quick fix to stop you bumping into things and avoiding accidents by having clear vision.
Also, their livelihoods are pretty much built on selling us glasses. The London Standard reports that by 2022, the global eye wear market is expected to reach $165 billion with opticals accounting for 70 per cent. So it is pretty big business. I can’t forget to mention here though that opticians are great at checking your overall eye health and spotting eye diseases (well, mine is anyway).
However, it seems little research was ever done into whether glasses would eventually make matters worse rather than helping.
I am surprised now to see many young children now prescribed glasses and I think that is sad. Even at that young age (I am talking below the age of 10) it has not been explored to see if there is a natural alternative to glasses.
Or, even if they can get by relying on glasses very sparingly, if at all (in cases where the prescription is very weak). Instead, the wearing of glasses all too easily becomes a lifelong habit which becomes harder and harder to break.