Eye Health

Updated 13 February 2015

Sight problems despite new glasses

You may have to get used to your new glasses to get the most out of them.


Your new spectacles look stylish and fit you perfectly. The only problem: you still cannot see sharply. You may wonder what might be wrong with them. Why is your vision not perfect despite your new spectacles?

Such vision problems have many different causes. The good news: the problem will usually resolve itself, and you can turn to your eye care professional for further assistance.

Your optician can help

Spectacles are an invention that allowed people to acquire the perfect tool to counter-balance failing eyesight. Whether it’s for nearsightedness, farsightedness or presbyopia – the right lens is now available for virtually any visual impairment.

Obviously, if you get a new pair of glasses and you can’t see sharply with them right away, you might get frustrated. However, there are many different reasons why you might have to go through this experience:

The familiarisation period

Whenever you get a brand new pair of spectacles you have never worn before, you will have to get used to them. Some people only need a couple of days to get accustomed to new glasses, while others need up to two weeks.

So it’s completely normal if you can only see the frame rim of your glasses when you first put them on. The reason for this lies in the brain’s visual centre. It first needs to adapt to the new, greatly improved visual conditions.

This also affects people who have been prescribed lenses with a different strength than before, or who have chosen a new frame or a different type of glass. Therefore it is important to continue to wear your spectacles consistently so that your eyes can adjust to them. 

You may have waited too long

It is the course of nature - between the ages of 40 and 49, people’s vision begins to deteriorate and they will eventually need glasses. In a study of over 20,000 subjects, it was determined that close to 60% of all people who actually need glasses for the first time wait far too long before purchasing a visual aid. 

And after they have finally acquired spectacles, their brain’s visual centre also needs to adapt to the new conditions for the first time. This usually happens very quickly, though. Nearly all former non-spectacle wearers wonder why they did not get a prescription for glasses sooner.

Valuable advice for people who already wear spectacles and whose lens strength has increased dramatically (for example, due to a severe astigmatism or nearsightedness), the brain centre has to get used to the new visual impressions before you will enjoy comfortable and perfect vision again.

So be patient with your new spectacles. In general, an eye test every two years is recommended for anyone who already wears glasses.

Progressive lenses

Progressive lenses facilitate sharp vision at all distances. The zones for different sight distances continuously blend into one another. This makes it possible to see every detail clearly – both, close-up and far away, without image jumps.

The familiarisation period can last up to three weeks. During that period, be sure to wear your spectacles at all times. Familiarisation is especially difficult for older people if the differences between the near and far ranges are great. In such cases, the familiarisation period can last up to three weeks.

A tip from the experts: If you are experiencing problems, start by wearing your new glasses only while seated. Slowly adjust to your new progressives by wearing them as you move around every day, for instance while climbing steps, driving a car or playing sports. It goes without saying that the quality of the lenses does play a significant role. For professional consultations and assistance, always see your optometrist.


Your blood pressure and heart rate are not the only conditions that can be adversely impacted by excessive stress: your eyesight may suffer as well. Often, the more stressed you are, the more impaired your vision will be. When you get ready to acquire a new pair of spectacles, make sure you see your eye doctor for a test when you are as relaxed as you can be. If you are stressed-out, your test results may be inaccurate.

Chronic diseases

Do you suffer from occasional incidents of suddenly impaired vision even though you are wearing a new pair of spectacles you just had fitted? If so, you may have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or hypertension. Both diseases have an enormous impact on a person’s visual acuity. In such a case, your vision problems are probably not caused by your spectacles but by major fluctuations in your glucose or blood pressure levels. Many people do not even know they suffer from these conditions, so it may be time for a check-up.


Some medications can also impair your vision. Ask your doctor whether this might be the case with something you take.

If you are still not satisfied and your visual impression is not improving, have your optician check the specifications at his or her practice one more time. Make sure the lens strength matches the prescription and the lenses are centred. You may also want to have the fit of your glasses re-evaluated.

Spectacles that slide around on your nose or do not sit straight can affect the correction and thus the visual performance. Your eye care professional can perform all of these checks and also have your lenses reviewed by the manufacturer. 

If you have any other problems with your spectacles, for instance with the lens surfaces, contact your eye care professional. He or she will evaluate the circumstances and decide whether it is necessary to have the spectacle lenses inspected by the manufacturer.

Mechanical, thermal or chemical influences can potentially lead to a change in the coating. Scratches on your glasses can also cause vision problems. This is annoying because the scratches cannot be removed and the lenses have to be replaced. (Carl Zeiss Vision/ September 2010)


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Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg and is currently practising at Tygerberg Academic Hospital in Cape Town. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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