How Do I Know if my Glasses Prescription is Wrong?

Okay, so you have that nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right with your new glasses. Your vision isn’t as clear as it should be, or things are appearing fuzzy and indistinct. You may be experiencing a sense of tunnel vision. Perhaps your depth perception is just a little bit off.

Is Your Glasses Prescription Wrong?

How Do I Know if My Glasses Prescription is Wrong?You know from experience or you’ve been told by your optometrist that some prescriptions, especially bifocals or trifocals, require an adjustment period during which you need to get used to the changes of a new prescription. This transition period can last (depending on the prescription and the individual) for days, weeks, even upwards of a month. So how can you tell if your vision inconstancies are related to this adjustment period or are instead a result of an incorrect prescription?

The answer typically lies in the symptoms you experience and their severity.

Errors made during an eye exam are not unusual. They can result from a typo on a computerized report or, more commonly, a misreading of a handwritten prescription. The misinterpretation of a single digit – or the omission of one – can wildly alter a prescription. Sometimes incorrect measurement readings are to blame and these are not always the fault of the optometrist. Perhaps, without realizing it, you’d scheduled your exam late in the day, maybe after work, and your eyes were tired and weak, skewing your results.

If your symptoms include the following, you may want to return to the optometrist for advice or at least a confirmation that no clerical error in your prescription was made:

  • Extreme blurriness or lack of focus.
  • Poor vision in only one eye when the other is closed.
  • Headaches or dizziness caused by excessive eye strain.
  • Extreme vertigo or nausea not related to any underlying medical condition.
  • Problems persist despite the fact that the lenses are properly centered in front of your eyes.
  • Problems persist despite waiting out the recommended adjustment period.

It’s true, however, that if your prescription has changed or you’ve switched to bifocal, trifocal, or progressive lenses, your eyes do need to adjust – particularly if the prescription strength in only one eye has changed. If your symptoms most closely follow the ones below, your problem may simply be caused by the change in prescription:

  • The blurriness or fuzziness you experience improves with time.
  • You haven’t been using your new glasses on a regular basis.
  • Headaches, dizziness, nausea, or vertigo lessen the longer you wear your glasses, or subside greatly after the first few days.
  • Vision is clear when each eye is isolated.
  • You haven’t yet completed the transition period suggested by your optometrist.

Shop Prescription Eyeglasses

Realize that you know yourself better than anyone else. You know how your eyes react to typical daily eye strain and what they feel like when you’re tired. If you can rule out these conditions, and you’ve been patient with any change in corrective lenses and given your symptoms the prerequisite amount of time to clear up, the fault may lie in your glasses and not in yourself. If you have any cause to suspect this is the case, a follow-up visit to your optometrist is certainly warranted and definitely recommended.

20 Responses to How Do I Know if my Glasses Prescription is Wrong?
  1. Julia
    February 1, 2014 | 11:55 pm

    Hi my name is Julia and I just got my glasses friday and put them on first thing in the morning on saturday. My prescription did change my right eye is worse than my left eye. When wearing them around the house things that appear to be far away like a digital clock are blurry and cannot read the numbers. I read online that it could take a couple of days to adjust called the adjustment period but could it also be wrong prescription? How long should i wait to go back to the eye doctors and wait for the adjustment period to take?

    • Kieran Hunt
      February 4, 2014 | 2:45 pm

      Hi Julia,

      It is true that there is generally an adjustment period for new eyewear, especially if your prescription has changed significantly. It shouldn’t take more than a week to adjust. If it does, or if it doesn’t appear to be getting any better after a few days of wearing, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to see your eye doctor and have the prescription checked out. It’s definitely possible that the eye doctor made a mistake, and the lab could have made a mistake as well.

      Please let us know if you have more questions, and let us know how it worked out!

      Kieran Hunt

  2. Jade Lyons
    February 28, 2014 | 2:53 pm

    Hi my name is Jade, I’ve wearing glasses for just over two years and at my last eye test I was told that I was not short sighted (which is the prescription I had been wearing) and I have been given reading glasses. I then started my driving lessons and I couldn’t see the licence plate of the car in front of me, my driving instructor warned me that if I can’t see it I will fail my test. So have I been given the wrong prescription? And is it possible for my eye sight to change like that in two years? Thank you.

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 4, 2014 | 3:36 am

      Hi Jade,

      It’s definitely possible that your eye doctor gave you the wrong prescription; it happens more often than you’d think. I’d suggest going back and explaining your problems to the eye doctor. It also is possible for your prescription to change that much, though it’s rare. See what your eye doctor has to say; I think it was a mistake on their end, or on the end of the glasses lab.

      Kieran Hunt

  3. teni
    March 1, 2014 | 4:10 pm

    Hey I got a higher prescription than usual,I guess the optician messed it up.I got used to it but after a while my eyes started to develop fine lines and they look hollow too.I’ve requested for new glasses but is the hollowness and fine lines really from the wrong prescription and how can I get rid of them?. (Ps: I don’t wear them as much as I should and I’m only 18 so I think its too early to have finelines and hollow eyes)

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 4, 2014 | 3:38 am

      Hi Teni,

      I’m not sure what the fine lines you’re experiencing could be. Are you sure there isn’t a scratch on the lenses of the eyewear? If you are experiencing abrupt changes in your vision and the appearance of your actual eyes, it’s a good idea to see a doctor as soon as possible just in case there is something more than simple corrective vision problems at work. Otherwise, I think it’s probably due to the different prescription in your glasses. Also, if you don’t need very strong corrective lenses, you may want to consider going with contacts if you don’t like wearing glasses.

      Kieran Hunt

  4. marina
    March 2, 2014 | 5:13 am

    hi. i have chronic daily headaches/migraines.eye strain and sensitivity seem to happen on a dime. ive had trouble finding an eye doctor, even a nuero optomologist (he was very brief and seemed over booked) wasnt very helpful. i could tell my right eye had gotten was hard to tell with the left because my eyes always have some pain/strain going on.when i got an eye exam, the 24/7 migraine was getting worse about the time of my appointment. it led to a long grueling anxiety filled appointment. this first appointment was with a regular optomologist. with the exam,i couldnt decide on the right eye, nothing looked clear. i remember making a decision quickly on the left, it SEEMED very clear.according to the new prescription, the left eye had previously been over corrected. just a hair, but for me, a hair is…a horse tail of a difference lol.. i got new glasses today. felt a tiny twinge in left eye. im ignoring it, and i know the migraine i have now is not only because i dont have fl-41 orangish tint on that WILL go on as soon as i know glasses are correct, but no anti glare either so i think my eyes are freaking out a bit. ive had them on about 6 hours.

    i was told things would look blurry at first.
    my sister had reminded me prior to ordering the glasses that if eyes are over corrected with glasses, things will look blurry..

    this was a 4 month process with insurance getting to see the right docs and organizing how to get 2 pairs, one tinted one not (hard to see at night with tint or in doors sometimes).. so this is distressing. wouldnt know who to go see because the nuero optomologist i saw and appointment which took 3.5 HOURS(im trying to understand what even happened, not even 10 minutes was with the doctor) wrote the prescription i had previoiusly gotten before seeing him 2 months prior. i was referred to the expert because the regular eye doc hadnt heard of the tint i use.. insurance only pays for one eye exam,unless referred somewhere else. do i see the nuero guy that should have given me an eye exam(and was going to, not sure what happened there) before copying the other docs numbers and signing his name?( i would ask this to insurance but ive gotten the run around between docs and insurance for months and wrong answers 24-7, and obviously i will have to ask eventually. this is all very subtle differences that eye docs surprisingly are that aware of..not the people i met anyway.

    mostly i just want to know if its possible for my left eye that supposedly was SLIGHTLY over corrected for a year, to hurt or feel strained, almost more than the right eye(which is where MORE correction was put in the new lenses).. does the brain or eyes do the same adjusting when glasses are over adjusted, or, how is it different? yes everything is blurry and disorienting, but the left eye seems worse. was i just used to STRAINING my eye to see through an over corrected lens so long and the correct prescription is confusing it?

    id ask the docs, and will have to, but, considering eyes are such a huge part of migraines, im so surprised of the LACK of knowledge eye docs seem to have about the importance of A- making sure the prescription is right, B- understanding things like TINTS and anti glare and suggesting it for debilitating light sensitivity which 99% of migrainers have.. made a world of difference for me!(even tho it sucks having orangish sun glasses looking frames, but, doesnt matter if it relieves some pain-also good for anyone who works on computers a lot, whether they need glasses or not.)any suggestion would be great! no idea what site this is that google led me to, but thank you! and i do have an astigmatism.. not sure how that would affect things.. would THOSE numbers have anything to do with how my left eye feels if the astigmatism numbers are off? (i dont know if there ARE numbers, but i think so?)

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 4, 2014 | 3:54 am

      Hi Marina,

      I’m so sorry about all the trouble you’ve been having! It sounds like a very stressful ordeal, and I sympathize. I’ve been there.

      Your problems sound like they could stem from sensitivity to wrong prescriptions. Though it could be neurological, and I do think it’s a good idea to follow up with the neuro, I also believe that you have what eye practitioners call non-adaptive sensitivity. Basically, if that’s the case, your eyes are more sensitive to slight imperfections in your corrective lenses compared to the average glasses wearer.

      Did you know that there is a tolerance held by labs across the world which says how “off” your prescription can be for it to still be considered correct? That’s because the vase majority of people can’t notice small imperfections in the strength of their corrective lenses. If you are more sensitive to these imperfections than the average person, than even a prescription that is “correct” may still give you problems.

      Your best bet is to follow up with the neuro, and go back to the eye doctor and say, plain and simple, that the prescription you received doesn’t work for you. Most eye doctors will remake your glasses for you free of charge if they made a mistake. Additionally, you should mention that you believe you are more sensitive to slight imperfections in the strength of your glasses, and request that the lab make the glasses to a stringent tolerance (no allowance for imperfections).

      Please know that you are not the only one who suffers these problems, and there are solutions. You just need to find the right combination of corrective lenses and tints. If your problem is also neurological, there are other steps that need to be taken, but hopefully you’ll have more luck with the neuro the next time you see him. When you’re there, if he tries to rush you out, let him know, in no uncertain terms, that you’re not okay with leaving without some kind of answers, or at least a plan. This seems to work with most doctors.

      The last thing I want to let you know is that this “tolerance” thing with corrective lenses being approved even if they’re imperfect is not because eye labs do hack jobs. Eye doctors write prescriptions to very specific powers, and the creation of corrective lenses is incredibly precise and painstaking. The technology today continues to improve, but it’s very, very difficult to achieve perfection every time. The guidelines outlines by the American National Standards Institute gives labs suitable tolerances to ensure that corrective lenses that are “good enough” that the average human eye can’t detect the difference.

      Please let us know how this worked out for you and if you have any more questions!

      Kieran Hunt

  5. michael
    March 5, 2014 | 8:19 am

    Hi was wondering if you could help.

    I got new glasses and straight away i was unable to read and stay on a computer for anywhere near as long as i used too. As with my new glasses and new prescription came blurred vision after a few hours of reading.
    I have been back to my optician on numerous occasions and have gotten a second opinion else where to check my prescription but all seems to be well there. I have now reverted back to my old glasses after 8 months of trying my new ones.

    What else could be wrong or what could be checked to make sure i have what I need in my glasses?


    • Kieran Hunt
      March 12, 2014 | 4:01 am

      Hi Michael,

      I’m surprised that you have gotten the same results even with a second opinion. Are you sure that you don’t need a bifocal? It sounds like you need a separate reading prescription from your standard distance prescription.

      This is a problem that occasionally happens with people who switch to progressive bifocals after not having used them before. If you are wearing progressive bifocals for the first time in your new glasses, it’s possible that you just can’t adapt to progressives and you need a lined bifocal.

      Can you contact your doctor and ask if you need bifocals? Also, if your doctor says that you have progressives in the new glasses, as him/her if this is the first time s/he has ever prescribed progressives to you. Then you can get back to us and let us know what happened!

      Kieran Hunt

  6. Wendy
    March 12, 2014 | 5:49 am

    I have just picked up my new glasses and when I put them on I am seeing double images. Is this normal? They are multifocal lenses. I have already been wearing my old glasses today, would that make a difference, or could the script be wrong?

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 17, 2014 | 2:58 pm

      Hi Wendy,

      It’s possible that you need to wear your glasses as much as possible each day to adjust to your prescription, but if you are seeing double it’s unlikely that you are just adjusting to it. I think it’s possible that the lab or doctor made a mistake with your pupil distance measurement. My suggestion is to bring them back to the doctor to have them checked.

      Kieran Hunt

  7. Rose
    March 16, 2014 | 4:12 am

    Hey so my trouble is that every year that I’ve been going to the eye doctor they’ve said my eyes are the same in prescription. Last year both were 4.25. I recently went to a new optometrist and she gave me 4.25 on one eye and 4.0 on the other. Can one eye really just get better .25 randomly? I really think she just didn’t examine my eyes well. She focused more on one than the other. What should I do? I’m thinking of getting a second opinion but that’s going to cost me…

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 17, 2014 | 3:16 pm

      Hi Rose,

      It’s definitely possible for your eyes to get better. As counterintuitive as this is, it’s not uncommon. If the new prescription doesn’t feel right, however, you should be able to go back to the eye doctor for a replacement pair and new examination at their expense, since it was the optician’s mistake. I hope this works for you and helps you to avoid the extra cost of a second opinion.

      Kieran Hunt

  8. yhanie
    March 21, 2014 | 1:41 pm

    hi! got my first prescription glasses and first 3 days whenever i wear them, felt terrible headache , that will stay like the whole day.. and felt dizzy too.. plus my eyes felt so dry that i needed to buy eyedrop, noticed it too that my veins in my eyes was so red.. i dnt wear my glasses for long hours.. that’s only for about few minutes.. plus, it’s been 2 weeks now, and whenever i wear them, its lfeels like that things around me are moving too whenever i look around.. do i need to see again my optemetrist ? thanksb

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 24, 2014 | 3:16 pm

      Hi Yhanie,

      I do recommend going to see your optometrist again. It sounds like your prescription may not be correct, or you may even be having an allergic reaction to the frame material.

      Kieran Hunt

  9. Jack
    March 23, 2014 | 9:11 am

    Hi my prescription recently changed. When I wear my new glasses the right eye is perfect but the left eye feels like it is pulling towards the center. It has that feeling like when you purposely try to cross your eyes. I get headaches and a sick feeling. My left eye also feels like it has something in it like an eyelash always there. When I wear my old glasses all that disappears and I am fine.

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 27, 2014 | 12:12 am

      Hi Jack,

      It sounds like your pupil distance may have been done incorrectly on the glasses. I suggest taking them back to the optician who made them and explain your problem. I don’t think it’s you; it’s probably a mistake on the glasses.

      Kieran Hunt

  10. Andrea
    March 25, 2014 | 2:13 pm

    I received new glasses yesterday and I am finding that the vision in my right eye is very blurry looking straight on or angled in towards my nose, whereas if I look through the outer edge everything is extremely clear and focused. Basically I keep turning my head to a slight left to see better. Is this normal? I was told by the optician to give myself a week to adjust but it just feels wrong. She told me my old rx was as follows:
    pl -4.50 x16
    -50 -4.00 x162

    My new rx is:
    -.075 -5.00 x020
    -.075 -4.00 x167

    Thank you.

    • Kieran Hunt
      March 27, 2014 | 12:11 am

      Hi Andrea,

      It may be that you need to adjust for the week, so I suggest giving that a try. If, after the week is through, you still feel that the glasses aren’t right, bring them back to the optician. I suspect that they made a mistake with your pupil distance. Your change in prescription seems normal.

      Kieran Hunt

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