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Age related vision loss, presbyopia. How to use eyeglasses!

Updated on August 17, 2011

People with eyeglasses have surrounded me all my life. We can see them everywhere, from small children to older people. Nothing spectacular about that, and in my mind I have thought that if you need eyeglasses, you get them, use them and the problem is solved! Maybe I have been a bit naïve but I have always thought that using eyeglasses is something normal and easy. But now when I for the first time in my life need to wear eyeglasses I found it to be very complicated. In fact, I have learned that it is everything but easy to wear eyeglasses. You don’t just put them on your nose and walk away happy and everything is fine. Far from it! There are so much that needs to be learned, and you need to learn it again but in another way!

Since I have very little knowledge of this subject as a whole I only write about what I know about the age related vision loss: the presbyopia which is the gradual loss of the ability of the eye to clearly see objects at different distances due to loss of elasticity in the lens of the eye. It typically occurs in middle and old age and is very common. And the focus will be about the small things a first time buyer of eyeglasses need to know and sums up what I wish I had known before I started to use eyeglasses for the first time.

Your arms aren’t going to extend no matter how hard you try!

This is the first sign that you are starting to loose your vision. It starts without you knowing about it and since it proceed in small steps it will probably take a while before you even notice it. Because of the slow deterioration you will unconsciously try to compensate for the vision loss by moving what you reed further away from you. Most of us persist doing this for as long as possible and try to extend further and further away from your eyes while reading. At the same time you start to strain your eyes and force them to focus. The problem with age related vision loss is that it is possible to do this in the beginning since the problem is the eye lens needs time to switch from long to short distances because of reduced movement ability in the eye. I kept it up for almost two years and I also created a new skill: I became a master of guessing while reading!

In the end you will end up with tired eyes and also a nagging headache. By then, you know you need glasses!

You will need more than one pair of glasses!
You will need more than one pair of glasses! | Source

What kind of eyeglasses do you need to begin with?

When you brain slowly starts to accept that your arms are to short and that you do need glasses comes the next question! What kind of eyeglasses should you buy? I guess many in the same situation as me a bit ashamed goes to the nearest gas station or a shop and buy those cheap reading glasses. And “Eureka” the problem is solved, because you should only be wearing them while you read, right?

This will be okay for a time but that is all it is. It will buy you time! And this can be a good thing because most of us need this time to adapt to this new aid! You can get by with those cheap reading glasses or you could go to an optometrist and get reading glasses that are optimised for you. Personally I did both, and if you are planning to go to the optician please read about the first visit to the optician below before you go!

To have something hanging on your face!

Those of you that have been using glasses all your life probably think this is a little ridicules and you have become used to have glasses on. It has become a part of who you are even if it wasn’t so much easier for you either in the beginning. I can only speak for myself and from others that I have talked to and I found the necessity to wear glasses almost impossible. To me it felt as if I walked around with a big slug on my nose, something that shouldn’t be there and something that felt so unpleasant. To add to the problem I didn’t think it suited me either. Every time I looked in the mirror I thought: Oh my, what is that! How ugly!

For those of you that haven’t tried yet I can say that it takes a while getting use to. The good thing is of course that you now can read but in the beginning this doesn’t really make up for the inconvenient it means to wear them. The glasses are sliding about on you nose and you also see the glasses close in front of you which is annoying at first because you are not used too have something so close in front of your eyes.

If you get glasses from an optician these problem will be a bit smaller because they will fit your head and face better but you will still not be used to have something hanging on your face. But hang in there because it will get better with time!

So be aware of these traps when you go to the first eye vision test to buy eyeglasses:

  • You do have vision problems! (Otherwise you wouldn’t be there at all)
  • You do need eyeglasses! (Maybe not all the time but you will buy a pair)
  • Tell what you see right away! Don’t hesitate and let your eyes adjust to what you see.
  • Don’t guess! Because if you do you will have to continue to guess and that solution is already tried and also rejected. You don’t want to guess any more!
  • If you do guess, tell the optician when you do. By telling, he/she can get a clearer picture of your vision ability.

The first visit to the optician!

You have probably experienced an eye vision test before in order to check if your sight was good as a child or before you got a license or something. So you are probably familiar with the procedure. But an eye vision test that you do when you need glasses is somewhat different because now you take the vision test because you don’t see properly!

You have to understand this and have a total different approach to the eye vision test. That’s the reason you are here, to buy glasses, not getting the thumbs up that your vision is as good as ever before! And there is a great difference between the two! I don’t know why, but at my first vision test I somehow thought that the optician would say:

Your sight is only a little bit decreased but you don’t need glasses yet!

So therefor I did a bit of guessing during the eye vision test and as I said I am really good at it! Many letters have such a distinct shape that even if you don’t see them clear you can easily guess what they are. Take for example the letters A, T, V, or K. They all have very special shape and can easily be distinguished from each other. The letters with more round shapes is a bigger problem and the letters D, O and B are not so easy to distinguished by guessing. Every optician knows this but it is good if also you are aware of it. Another problem is that if you give the eye a little time to adjust to the distance, those unclear letters will get a little clearer so you can guess what they are.

As I said earlier you can probably get by very well with reading glasses for a while, a year or maybe more. But eventually you will encounter problems to read even with glasses. You can get a new pair of glasses with stronger enlarging but then you will have a new problem.

You need eyeglasses in your everyday life!

The day will come when you feel so tired of moving the glasses up and down, on and off. Personally I used my husband as my eyes when we where shopping together. I couldn’t see the labels or the price unless the label was really big. In my experience the labels somehow becomes smaller and smaller!

So you will go back to the optician for a new eye vision test and now you know the procedure quite well. And you will probably end up with bifocals or progressives.

Now starts a new era in you life! You will have a big hole in your budget and you will have learned many new things that all will be a part of your glasses. Vision window, anti-reflection, insurance, Polaroid, surface treatment, bifocals, progressives and of course glasses and spectacle frames.

To move the eyeglasses on and off, up and down!

The problem with reading eyeglasses is that they are just that: reading eyeglasses! This means that you will only be able to see at a short range with them, and everything in a distance of 1 meter or further away will be blurred. So now you will have another problem: you will have to put them on and take them off like a maniac. Your glasses will never be where you want them, and you will create a new moving pattern that you have never done before. Many people are pretty good at it and do this in a sort of mechanical way. But I think it looks as a rather nervous behaviour because their hands are constantly moving and they hold the glasses in their hands and almost use them as a pointer. Your glasses will be everywhere: on your head, in your hand and on your nose. You will use them as a pointer, you will suck on the bows and you will never really know where they are. Unless you submit totally and get a “senile string” as we call them in Sweden. A senile string is a string that you attach to the spectacle frames and put around your neck: a eyewear retainer. It is practical but somehow I don’t think that many first time users want to have them!

So, prepare your self for a new partner in life: your eyeglasses!

Some advices:

  • Let it take time! Hang in there because it will get better!
  • Tell people in your surrounding about your problems and describe the problems for them. Not everyone is familiar with what it means to have progressive eyeglasses. They will notice that something isn’t right anyway so it’s better to tell them the reason for your clumsiness!
  • Start wearing the eyeglasses shorter periods of time in the beginning and increase the time slowly.
  • You must learn to move your head instead of your eyes! This is a bit tricky since with age we have become very used to simply move our eyes when reading a text. This isn’t going to work any more because progressives and bifocals only have a smaller area for short distance sight in the lower part of the glass. So you have to move your head in smaller moves horizontally while you read.
  • To look down at the ground or at the floor means that you will have to move your head vertically instead. I noticed that I must have lived my entire life holding my nose up in the air but that had to change! At least one benefit with wearing progressives!

Progressives or bifocals

With the aid of progressives or bifocals you will be able to see on both long and short distance and your whimsical life with reading glasses are reduced, but not over! I will get back to the reading glasses later but for now lets focus on the bifocals.

Because it is just what you have to do: you must learn to focus in a new way than before.

And your brain must get used to a different way of eye movement. This is really tricky, and my optometrist told me it can take as long as two three months for some people to get it right. And for some people it isn’t such a big problem. You better be prepared for problems like nausea, motion sickness and at first you will get very tired both in your eyes and in your brain.

Start wearing the bifocals during shorter time in the beginning and exceed the time slowly. You will stumble, fumble, wobble and generally behave as if you were drunk! To grab a glass on a table can result in that you instead of grabbing it knock it to the floor. Going in stairs is another thing that can be difficult because your ability to estimate distance is suddenly wrong.

Eventually both you and your brain will adapt to this new way to see. But it takes a bit of practise.

Spectacle frames!

Oh, spectacle frames! This is a real jungle! How on Earth are you supposed to pick the right pair in all those different designs, forms and shapes? The truth is: you will probably not pick the best pair! You will definitely need some help, and most of all, you will need plenty of time!

Try to ignore all other people in the shop and focus only on your self and the frames. Test them over and over again and when you find a few frames that you think suit you try them again. Ask if you can borrow them for a couple of days and bring them home with you. Then you can ask your friends and sort of get used to them your self. Because you will have to wear them day in and day out and you will have to wear them for several years so it is really important that you like them. Another difficulty is that progressive spectacles must also fit your face and your head in a special way because the glasses have to sit pretty close to your cheeks if you should be able to see properly. Let the optician help you with that part because you will not be able to judge that by your self. So be prepared for the risk that your favourite frames isn’t going to work for progressives.

The reading glasses!

No, I am sorry but you will not be able to throw them away for good! You will still need them because it can be a bit difficult to lie down and read. If you are used to reed before going to sleep you will need reading glasses.

Other types of spectacles that you might need!

Some people also have difficulties to use the progressives when they do many hours in front of the computer screen. Computers are a special case and you might need a pair of terminal glasses that are optimized for computer screens.

Another area that needs to be taken care of is outdoors in the sun when you need sunglasses. Either you can incorporate the sunglasses in your progressives or you might want another pair. Sunglasses usually looks quite different from ordinary glasses and if you want the real look and you want to be able to read you will have to by another pair of progressive sunglasses.

So, you will be able to have excellent vision but it comes at a cost both financial and otherwise. And you will have to get used to have several different glasses for different environments as well as your reading glasses. Personally I now have three spectacles: progressive sunglasses, progressives and reading glasses. I am not sure yet, but maybe I need another pair of eyeglasses to use at work.

You will eventually get over all the initial inconvenience and you will have good eyesight again.

But remember that no matter how good your eyeglasses are you will never get back to how it was before. It is a compromise and you will have to live with it.


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    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 5 years ago from Sweden

      Kim Slazer, I understand completely and it took me forever to "get use" to the fact that I need glasses. It has been so hard to accept and I still wish I could manage without them. I know it is silly and I should be happy that I get help seeing again. For some of us this isn't so easy but eventually it gets better. Just keep on trying! After a while you will use the glasses without thinking about them. Thanks for reading and for your comment!


    • Kim Slazer profile image

      Kim Slazer 5 years ago from Springfield, Virginia

      reading this at work as I contemplate going to CVS to get yet another pair of glases because I forgot them, can barely read the typing on my computer at about 3 feat. I have gone the prescription route with the $300.00 progressive lens thing and have lost them within 2 weeks, not use to wearing glasses and hate that i have to depend on them.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi SUSANJK, I hope it gets easier to wear eyeglasses with time! And most of us don't have a choice either and I guess I also will have to buy stronger and stronger eyeglasses. Thanks for your comment and for the visit!


    • SUSANJK profile image

      SUSANJK 6 years ago from Florida

      Good article. I have worn glasses all my life, so just need stronger and stronger.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi michael ely! Your encouragement means a lot to me. Thanks for stopping by!


    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

      Good article thoughtforce.


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Prasetio, you have a healthy attitude to eyeglasses and I will try to think like you do! Fashionable, cool and handsome will from now on be my new mantra! And yes, you do look handsome, you look both handsome, cool and fashionable! Thanks for your supportive comment, for the vote, and for giving me another perspective towards eyeglasses!

      Take care


    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow.... you have done a great job, Tina. I love your tips and I believe we should follow your advice to get the best sunglasses. I use sunglasses too, like you said before that I should go to the optician first to know my eyes condition and the second is choosing the best frame. I also enjoy the video about how pick the best sunglasses frame. I am not shy to use this tools. Because it has a function to support my vision and it looks cool indeed when the sunglasses match with my face. It looks fashionable. Do I look handsome, tina? hahaha.....I give my vote as my big appreciation for this hub. Cheers....

      Love and peace,Prasetio

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Cloverleaf! To have good vision is worth everything and I am so thankful now for all the years I have had without any problem. Now I know how important it is. Thanks for stopping by!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Will, that sounds marvellous! I am so happy for you. It must be like waking up to a new world! I have always taken my good vision for granted and never thought so much about it. But now I do, and I miss the simplicity and the ability to see well. I think you did right when choosing the reading glasses. At the moment, I like my reading glasses better than my progressives. Thanks for sharing the good news and for stopping by!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Tom! It is a struggle to get used to them and I see no improvement yet. But I keep on trying. Thanks for your encouragement and for the vote! The weekend has been very good so far, today we have warm and sunny weather and I try to spend as much time as possible outside! I hope your weekend is good too! Thanks for stopping by Tom, your visits are always appreciated by me!


    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Tina, congrats on a very informative hub, it's so important to take care of our eyes. Thankfully I have never had to wear glasses, I'm very fortunate.

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Last fall, I got two 'new' eyes, via cataract surgery. my vision is now better than 20-20, and the colors are wonderful! I had no idea how badly my formerly good vision had deteriorated through the years.

      I still need reading glasses, (I opted not to get the bifocal lenses) but I can now drive without glasses! Yahoo!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very good and useful hub information and advice to get and use glasses .Hope you get use to wearing your glasses soon.

      Useful and vote up !!!

      Have a great Friday and weekend my friend !

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Dolores Monet! Everything about glasses feels silly and it is difficult to get used to wear progressives or bifocals. It is a completely new way to see and I have problem to get my brain to understand this new way. The good thing with reading glasses is that we can have them scattered around us:)) Eventually, we will find the way that is best for us! Thanks for stopping by in my corner!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Alastar, I begin to think that there maybe isn’t one single satisfied person with eyeglasses out there! It is just as it looks and because they don’t have a choice. Gray hair, eyeglasses, the next step is probably the walking frame!

      It is weird to have something on your nose and I feel more comfortable when I have them on my head!

      Contacts are another option of course and I suppose you can get used to put something in your eyes too:)) I appreciate your visit and the comment!

      Take care Alastar,


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Alicia, yes, at least we are not alone having this problem. And it is a problem! I have used my husband as my eyes for years when we went shopping, since I refused to bring my reading glasses outside my house or at work! Very silly and it is a bit limiting:)) Even if I don’t like glasses I do like my improved vision when I wear them! Good luck with your vision test and thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!


    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Susan, that sounds tuff! Everyone keeps telling me that I will get used to wear them very soon but I have my doubts. And you have needed glasses since you where ten and still haven’t got used to wear glasses!

      It has now been three weeks since I started wearing progressive for the first time and I feel dizzy and nauseas almost immediately when I put them on. Right now it is a nuisance!

      Maybe your dog felt your pain and solved your problem with your bifocals:)) Joking aside, it isn’t easy to have poor sight either, so you should go and have another try. I am still hoping I will feel comfortable wearing them and I hope you will too. I think I will have to use some positive thinking because I need them!

      Thanks for an interesting comment and for the excellent!

      Make that appointment now!


    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

      I could never accept the idea of wearing bifocals where the top part offered no correction. It just seemed silly. So I have cheap reading glasses scattered around the house, and a portable pair on a beaded chain. And that's not silly, haha.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Read with great interest. What a really fine article Tina. When the time came for reading glasses-in a way they're worse than the first gray hairs!- I tried the cheap reading ones-loved the slug on the nose line- but kept losing them. Next came the different strength pair but couldn't see good at night with them. Being a little myopic any way when reading I simply take the contacts out. Thanks again Tina and am going to bookmark your article for some friends and further reference.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a great hub, Tina! I'm at the reading glasses stage myself, although I know that I need to get my vision checked. It's very frustrating when I can't read anything without putting on reading glasses, even when I stretch my arms! Thanks for the very useful information.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have been wearing glasses to see since I was ten years old. I still hate wearing them. I wear them to drive and to see for distance. I did have a pair of bifocals a few years ago and I still should but one of the dogs got them when she was a puppy and destroyed them. I found it so hard to get used to the bifocals when I first got them. Your hub just reminded me that I really should go and make an eye appointment as my sight has gotten pretty bad lately. Excellent hub.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Hi Silver fish, that was quick so you are still a fast reader:) Most people get this troubles sooner or later and we just have to get used to it! But it is remarkable how long the arms can get:)) It is good to see you and I am glad if I have been of any help to you!


    • Silver Fish profile image

      Silver Fish 6 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

      Very useful hub- thanks. I have noticed my arms getting shorter recently too!