Adjusting to new spectacles

Is it normal to feel slightly dizzy, sometimes nauseous, and even to develop a headache when you wear your new spectacles for the first time?

Mellins i.Style optometrist, Inge Loubser addresses this and other common concerns that relate to adjusting to a new pair of spectacles.

“The first time to you put on your new spectacles, the world will be a different place. Developing a headache, nausea and slight disorientation are, however, considered normal symptoms during the first couple of days of wearing corrective lenses.”

Why does this happen? And does it happen to everybody or just those who got a much stronger prescription?

Depth perception and dizziness

Optometrists agree that dizziness, nausea or slight disorientation when wearing new spectacles most likely relates to problems with depth perception.  “It’s almost like motion sickness,” Inge explains. “We feel grounded because we have an understanding of our bodies and how it relates to the space around us. With new spectacles, this ‘steady’ feeling often falters and makes us feel disorientated.”

Straining to see 

“Your eyes and brain have to work differently than what they were used to, to see clearly through your new lenses,” Inge explains.  “You therefore don’t have to panic when you develop a slight headache or feel disorientate the first day or two of wearing your new spectacles, but if it persists longer than this, please call your optometrist.”

What else can cause adjustment issues?

Inge says patients often complain about dizziness or just ‘feeling weird’ even if they have the same prescription than before.  A different lens type, however, can cause adjustment issues.  “If you opted for a thinner lens or a new coating such as anti-glare or blue-light blocking, your eyes might also take a while to adjust to the change. Switching from single vision to bifocal or multifocal lenses will of course also bring about some adjustment symptoms such as the ones mentioned above,” she says.

Even a new frame style can have an effect as the shape and size of your chosen frame influences the curvature of your lenses.

A matter of days

The uncomfortable symptoms related to adjusting to new spectacles may last only a few days for some, but for others longer. What is the ideal?

Inge says your eyes and brain should adjust to your new spectacles within a few days. If you cannot see clearly and your spectacles feel uncomfortable after a few days, contact your optometrist.

What can you do?

“Wear your spectacles as prescribed by your optometrist!” says Inge. Some optometrists even go as far as saying that you must hide your old pair for a while, even if you think that they are more comfortable.

What should your optometrist do if the symptoms persist?

They should ensure that the fitting of your frame is correct and ensure your prescription is correct, since an error with these may be causing your discomfort.

In certain instances, a complete re-examination may also be necessary.