To Wear or Not To Wear: What Happens If I Don’t Use My Glasses?

Glasses! They’re the “eyes” of many. Or they could also be great trendy pieces that accentuate a person’s clothing style and outfit. For the most basic of uses, they protect your eyes from flying debris during work activities. It is a well-known quote that the eyes are “the windows to the soul.” Indeed, the sense of sight is an integral part of living and much of our sensory input of the world depends on it, such as in the case of our memories. But for some people their “windows” need an extra layer of help so that they may better enjoy the beauty of life.

It’s not a rare sight to see a lot of spectacle-wearers from school, from work, or perhaps from your daily commute.

According to a study 10 years ago, over 2.3 billion people in the world have refractive error.Although a large chunk of this population have sought out professional help in order to improve their vision, 500 million of those people do not have access to eye check-ups and visual correction, which if left unmanaged may eventually cause further vision impairment.

As people proceed to their fifties, it is estimated that at least 80 percent of this population group would now require glasses for vision correction. And adding to the list the current obsession with phones and gadgets which ameliorates eye strain tendencies, the total numbers would be expected to rise even further.

It’s hard for a lot of people to imagine how a blind person goes through life with one sense gone. For people afflicted with near-sightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism, being “blind as a bat” is a difficult handicap to live with as well. Without proper visual correction aids, it would be hard to read, to move around, to observe the world and to be on the lookout for danger. Glasses, for these cases, are lifesavers. So, what if I opt to not use my glasses at all? Keep reading.

Many Uses for Glasses

Glasses are mainly used to help in vision acuity, but they also have other uses as well such as for protection during hazardous activities like wielding, laboratory experiments, or against sun glare. They are also used for fashion trends when one tries to achieve a certain look or aesthetic.

As mentioned before, many people have eyes with refractive error. This means that light rays cannot properly converge toward your retina and in effect, the vision perceived by the eye is blurred. This is mainly due to a deviation in the proportion of the cornea to the eye, as well as an anomaly in shape of the cornea. The vision now becomes blurry. This is where glasses and other types of vision correction devices play their important role. They make up for this deviation, and they redirect the focus towards the retina.

Basically, eyeglass lenses are pieces of glass which are curved to a certain direction, depending on what the user’s specific eye disability is. It may be convex for the near-sighted or concave for farsighted individuals. To simply explain the phenomena that occur during abnormal vision, near-sighted eyes have the focus of light rays in front of the sclera and for farsighted eyes the focus is behind. The curvature of the corrective glass lenses help in bending the light rays as these approach the eye. This adjustment helps the light rays focus on where the retina is instead of focusing in front or behind it, leading to a clearer visual perception of the world. For individuals who suffer from refractive error, this “clearing” effect literally opens their eyes to the world. It increases their visual range substantially, and it results to an increase in the quality of life.

Why Don’t People Wear Their Glasses?

So, perhaps you’ve decided that you really don’t like glasses. Maybe it’s the way they slide down your nose in the middle of the day when sweat and oil have accumulated around your T-zone. Perhaps what annoys you is the constant accumulation of dust, dirt or fog that you have to constantly wipe from your lenses. Or maybe you just haven’t found the right shape to compliment your face type, and you don’t feel confident enough when you wear your spectacles. Whichever reason you have, don’t toss out your prescription lenses just yet!

Repercussions of Not Wearing Prescription Glasses

People may expect bad repercussions to occur if one does not follow their optometrist's advice and insist on doing their daily tasks without the aid of glasses, right? But to be frank, that is not necessarily the outcome for these types of situations.

Corrective glasses help the eye compensate for the inadequacies of the cornea and if the eyes are allowed to function without these aids, it would be forced to work harder in order to try to visualize objects better. Many people probably observe themselves squinting at the things they try to bring to their focus, and this behavior increases eye strain which would in turn increase the likelihood of headaches and other side effects. So again, we go back to the main rationale of using corrective glasses which is not to completely fix the illness but to manage instead the symptoms of eye strain in order to avoid worse symptom manifestations.

Although there is thought to be a genetic disposition to these types of eye problems, habits and behavior which cause eyestrain can also worsen the condition. Examples would be unrestrained use of phones and gadgets without proper break time, as well as excessive reading.

Visual Problems from Childhood

For visual problems that occur often in childhood such as lazy eye and crossed eyes, not wearing the prescribed glasses may worsen the condition and lead to a poor prognosis, possibly making the problem permanent. So for these instances, one must assure that the glasses are worn by the child for the increased possibility of improvement.

Vision Effects on the Elderly

For the elderly, it is quite unavoidable for presbyopia or the loss of focusing ability for near objects to occur. This is why the elderly are often depicted with glasses. Difficulty in reading and in other vision-based tasks pushes them to always have their reading glasses nearby. In the same way as stated before, refusal to wear glasses may cause eye strain but the effects cannot go much beyond eye strain symptoms.

Other Alternatives

Just can’t stand your spectacles, regardless of the benefits? Don’t worry because there many alternatives to this dilemma. Contact lenses are commonly used nowadays to make up for impaired eyesight. There is a wider field of vision and there is no peripheral obstruction, so you can confidently do contact sports and other such activities without the risk of breaking your glasses or losing them in the field. Weather would not be a pain as well, as there is no risk of lens fogging.

There is a new and innovative refractive therapy technique called “Orthokeratology” wherein specially designed contact lenses are worn overnight to reshape the cornea and decrease dependency on correction devices for the next day. Indeed, this seems like a new and promising solution to your eye problems. But it is important to note that there are many disadvantages to wearing contact lenses as well. Direct hand contact with the eye increases the risk for infection, and so contact lenses require more maintenance in order to avoid this. Contact lenses require regular replacements to avoid infections. Dry eye syndrome caused by a lack of lubrication can also be an effect, which may lead to irritation, inflammation and even scarring if conditions are bad.

If worse comes to worst, laser eye surgery and lens surgery are options for those who desire a near permanent solution to vision problems. Laser eye surgery focuses on reshaping the cornea for correction of near-sightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Lens surgery can be visualized as putting built-in contact lenses directly in the eye. This is advisable for people with high prescriptions. Of course, like with all surgery types, this requires ample recovery time which you must put into consideration.

Conclusion

A good advice is to just try to work with your glasses regardless of why you do not want to wear them in order to manage the symptoms associated with eye strain. Maybe you want to set them aside during a social event and you don’t want to be the old-looking person with glasses perched atop the nose, and that’s okay. This may not warrant any immediate permanent effects unless you have a treatable condition such as lazy eye or crossed eyes. If your glasses truly annoy you, there are other available alternatives to managing your vision impairment and you should talk to your optometrist with regards to all the possible options you can choose. If it increases your quality and ease in life, why not go for it if you have a few bucks to spare?

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1705961/

https://bmcophthalmol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12886-016-0357-3

http://glassescrafter.com/information/how-glasses-correct-vision.html

https://www.allaboutvision.com/contacts/faq/contacts-vs-glasses.htm

https://www.scienceabc.com/humans/need-glasses-dont-wear-eyesight-get-worse.html

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/laser-eye-surgery/

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