You may experience some issues during the first few days wearing your new spectacles due to spatial distortion. To get a better understanding, let’s look at some of the underlying factors.

Why do I have to adapt?

A change in your prescription, or even a change in the lens material or frame size can cause spatial distortion. For instance, some people are more sensitive to motion sickness than others. Same here – some people are very sensitive to a change in the lens prescription. People with high prescriptions, astigmatism or first time multifocal wearers are more likely to suffer from spatial distortion. A big shift in your prescription can also be a factor. Your optometrist may use a high refractive index material to make your lenses look thinner, and this in itself can require some getting used to. When the prescription is changed, the quality of the retinal image changes. It’s common for your eyes and your brain to take some time to adjust to processing these new images. Maybe it’s been a while since you last had your prescription adjusted, or if it’s your first pair of specs, in which case, your brain may require a day or two to accept the sharp, new image it’s receiving as correct. If you have been compensating for the poor vision for so long it becomes “normal”. Your brain will adjust to the “new normal” as seen through your new specs. Even if the prescription only changes a little, one eye might change more than the other.

Different frame styles can also affect your vision and require an adjustment period. Changing from a rectangular shaped frame to a round frame, or vice versa can change the curve of the lens. Changing from a large frame to a smaller frame can change how the frame enters your peripheral vision. While an optometrist can adjust the prescription for the shape, it could require some time to get used to new specs. Even if your new frames don’t affect your vision, how they feel on your face can require a few days of adjusting.

Some of the adaptation issues include:

• Eye strain – you might experience eye strain during the first few days.
• Distortion – different parts of your vision might change slightly, depending on how far an object is.
• Fishbowl – the image may seem “bent” at the edges. The centre of the image may be clear.
• Depth perception – you may find it hard to discern how far away or how close an object is at first.
Sometimes you may just feel weird and a bit off balance. However, if you are getting headaches with the new specs, you should report back to your optometrist.

Faulty Prescription

The biggest potential problem is a faulty prescription because this means your eyes will not adjust to your new specs. Errors during the exam, the measurement process, or the production process can all cause a faulty prescription. Despite all dispensing optician’s diligence in taking measurements correctly, and despite the largely computer-controlled creation of lenses, human errors sometimes occur. You will not adjust to your new specs if the prescription is incorrect. The key indicator is if your vision discomfort does not improve as the days go by. If it feels a little better every day, the cause is likely to be spatial distortion.

Safety while adjusting to new specs

For the most part, the adjustment period for new glasses will pass without any real consequences. Take care, however, with driving, walking on stairs or broken ground, working with dangerous machinery, or completing tasks that require concentration and good vision. The adjustment period can take more time if your new specs are multifocal or your prescription has changed dramatically.
How long will the adjustment take?

Most Eye Care Professionals will tell you it will likely take two to three days to adjust to a normal change in prescription, but the adjustment period will be different for each individual and in rare cases it can last up to two weeks. Just be aware that while many people will get used to new specs in two to three days, large changes in prescriptions, a change to progressive lenses, or getting your first spectacle prescription can take longer for your eyes to adjust.
Remember, if it does not improve little by little over a few days, you need to go back for a check-up.

How to help your eyes adjust to new glasses

The best thing you can do to help your eyes and brain adjust to new specs is to wear them. Put them on and wear them as soon as you get up because that’s when your eyes are fresh. Wear them as much as possible during the day. Don’t wait and put them on later in the day because that shock can cause you to feel spatial distortion. Do not switch back and forth with an old pair. While it’s tempting to go back to your older pair, this can slow the adaptation.

Once you have fully adapted, you can resort to intermittent wear if that suits you.

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