I have to admit, I’ve always equated reading glasses with aging. I’m already in my forties and have been fortunate enough not to need corrective eyewear. But recently, I’ve noticed that I get a lot more headaches. I’m more irritable and moody, especially after spending long periods on a screen, and the area behind my eyes is tired and achy.
Routine comprehensive eye examinations are recommended for all adults, whether or not you wear corrective eyewear, but in recent years I’ve been lazy about making an appointment. Since I haven’t needed to update any prescriptions, it was easy to ignore seeing my optometrist.
But an eye exam isn’t only about prescriptive eyewear like glasses or contacts. It’s actually a thorough examination of the health of your eyes, and can identify underlying conditions that could ultimately threaten your vision. Even if you don’t need glasses, you still need to have your eyes checked. Something as innocuous as headaches could actually be related to your eyes.
It turns out that being in your forties is actually a very common time to start noticing minor differences in your vision that you may not even attribute to your eyesight. Headaches can be caused by changes in our near vision, a condition called presbyopia. It happens when the lens hardens naturally with age, making it more difficult for your eyes to focus. Other symptoms might include having to hold reading material farther away from you, or experiencing blurred vision up close.
Whether I liked it or not, my visit with my optometrist confirmed that I am in fact in the exact expected age range for acquiring my first-ever pair of glasses, for reading. She conducted a full examination of my eyes, which (thankfully) continue to be in optimal health. But if they’d been present, she could have identified early signs of a wide variety of conditions, which would have allowed for earlier treatment and intervention. It was a good reminder that I’ll be more contentious about booking regular exams!
What my exam did turn up though was the expected signs of presbyopia that start emerging around my age. It turns out that my kids are right—I can’t ignore the fact that I’m getting older, and that my body and eyes are changing. In fact, almost everyone over age 40 begins to show signs of presbyopia. It gradually worsens until we all require reading glasses to see up close comfortably and clearly, so I’m in good company.
After a detailed discussion of my headache symptoms, including talking about when they occur (typically after long stretches on my computer) and how often (by the time I booked my appointment, it was almost daily), it was clearer than ever that my vision is no longer clear. Reading glasses, it is!
If you’re lucky enough to see an optometrist that’s co-located with an eyewear supplier, like Dr. Sam Dhaliwal & Associates, it makes it easy to get everything done in one place. After my full exam, I took my prescription directly to the eyewear supplier and was encouraged to try on a variety of frames.
Finding glasses that fit comfortably and make you feel like yourself if you’ve never worn them before is a bit of a challenge. You can read our blog with some helpful tips here, but I found that shopping with a friend (or even asking for the advice of the eyewear associates) was useful. It enabled me to get a second opinion from a more objective perspective. While I kind of felt like I was playing dress up in every pair, a neutral observer who was used to seeing lots of different faces in glasses helped me to find a perfect pair of frames that I absolutely love.
While reading glasses are readily and affordably available without a prescription, seeing your optometrist first is highly recommended. It’s important to find out exactly what strength you should be wearing, or else your symptoms may continue or even worsen. If your eyes aren’t exactly the same (and many people’s aren’t), you’ll need to have your reading glasses made for you, like I did. That’s because any that are widely available in drugstores or other places have the same correction in both lenses, and won’t be suitable for anyone whose eyes differ.
Once you know your prescription, you’ll be more prepared to choose the right pair. Even if your eyes both require the same strength, there are still some advantages to purchasing your glasses from a reputable eyewear supplier. If you have insurance coverage, your new specs might be paid for by your provider. The quality of glass will likely be far superior and free from imperfections. And you’ll also be offered customization options, like anti-glare, anti-scratch, and blue light blocking coatings. Plus, most eyewear suppliers offer free adjustments if your frames need one.
At the end of the day, being told I should start wearing reading glasses did make me realize that I’m getting older, but it also gave me the opportunity to rock a stylish new pair of modern frames. And best of all? My optometrist confirmed that my eyes are in good health, and offered a simple solution to getting rid of almost all of my headaches! Sure, my kids still stress me out once in a while, but at least the days of daily headaches and tired eyes seem to be behind me. The future looks bright, and I’m still plenty young enough to enjoy it!