When should I replace my eyeglasses?
When is it time to replace your eyeglasses?
— If you’re experiencing headaches or having trouble seeing clearly, it’s time to see your eye doctor to get a new eyeglasses prescription.
— If your existing glasses are showing their age, it might be time for a replacement pair with the newest (unscratched) lens tech.
— If your current frames have gone out of style, you may want to replace them with the latest trend — even if your vision hasn’t changed.
When did you last get new glasses?
Don Dulin realized he should buy a new pair of prescription eyeglasses in the summer of 2019, primarily because he’d gone four years without getting new ones.
“Over that time, my prescription changed a little bit, but not enough to warrant me getting new lenses,” says Dulin, an online media entrepreneur. “But the coating on my lenses was scratching off, making everything look cloudy even when my lenses were clean.”
Following an eye exam, Dulin’s Philadelphia-area ophthalmologist wrote a new prescription and recommended blue-light-filtering lenses to help ease eye strain.
Today, Dulin notices little difference in his eyesight with the new glasses (single-vision Ray-Bans), but the eye strain he’d complained about has gone away. Dulin credits his new glasses for filtering blue light.
Having trouble seeing? You may need new glasses
If you’re experiencing blurry vision, headaches, fatigue or vision distortion, your vision prescription may be outdated, says Barbara Horn, president of the American Optometric Association.
“Only an eye doctor can check for any vision changes, determine what [replacement] schedule is right for you and have you properly fit with glasses that meet your prescriptive needs,” says Horn.
“That’s why it is important to get a comprehensive eye exam,” she says. “Even if your glasses seem to be working fine, your prescription may need adjustments that only a complete eye exam can uncover.”
Eye care professionals typically suggest that adults get a comprehensive eye exam every one to two years, depending on factors such as age and risk of developing vision problems.
Adam Gordon, chairman of the Department of Optometry and Vision Science in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, notes that an eye exam can turn up undetected health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
“From a public health and safety standpoint, the most important point is that everyone should have routine periodic eye exams even if no symptoms are present and even if vision is normal,” Gordon says.
Your existing glasses are showing their age
Some people get new replacement eyeglasses — even if their vision hasn’t changed — because the lenses on their existing glasses are scratched or the frames are bent.
For instance, the protective coating on the lenses might have weakened, like what happened with Don Dulin.
Horn emphasizes that if your glasses are dented or scratched, they could be harming your vision without you knowing it, contributing to your eye strain. The same holds true if the lenses are cracked or otherwise damaged.
If your glasses are old, Horn adds, “there may be new technologies that can enhance vision and make the experience of wearing glasses even better.”
An eyewear switch also might be in order to better align with an active lifestyle or frequent computer use. Glasses specially designed for athletes or techies can improve eye protection.
You get replacement glasses for variety or fashion
People also get new glasses just because they’re seeking variety — lenses that are a different shape or frames that are a different color, for instance.
Los Angeles interior designer John Linden falls into this category. His vision insurance plan covers the purchase of one new pair of glasses each year.
“My vision doesn’t change too much from year to year — thank God — so I’ve been able to build a nice collection of eyewear,” Linden says.
“Now, I have different pairs for different situations,” he explains. “I have a few formal pairs, some casual pairs and the ones I wear while I’m working in my shop.”
Linden currently owns six pairs of prescription glasses. He bought the latest pair in June 2019 to match an outfit he planned to wear to a friend’s wedding.
Whatever the reason for new eyeglasses, Horn says glasses are “an investment in a patient’s health — medical devices that enable people to see and interact with their world more clearly.
“Every pair of eyeglasses must be custom-fitted to not only comfortably suit your face, but also to meet your particular prescriptive needs,” she adds.
RELATED READING: Broken glasses: Repair methods and cost
Page published in December 2019
Page updated in February 2021