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More Eye Discomfort When Wearing Eye Glasses

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  • More Eye Discomfort When Wearing Eye Glasses

    I've been having a problem for close to the last two years that no optometrist (five) or ophthalmologist (two) I've seen have been able to entirely figure out. If anyone has a similar problem, or can think of what the problem (or solution) could be, I'd really appreciate your comments.

    When I wear my prescription eye glasses, I get enhanced eye discomfort. I feel a strain, and after a while (sometimes much more quickly than other times) it becomes so unbearably uncomfortable (even painful) that I can't wear my eye glasses. For some details:
    - my prescription is quite minor: -1.5 in both eyes with a tad bit of astigmatism in each. My prescription has been verified as being proper
    - my glasses have been checked and are made properly. I've had this problem with two different pairs of glasses that have been made at different places, and have had multiple (Nikon) lenses in each.
    - I do NOT get this same discomfort when wearing contacts. No strain with contacts, but my eyes and contacts just get very dry.

    One of the optometrists I saw suggested that it is related to my dry eye. As my eyes became more dry, this problem seemed to have arisen. And when my eyes are more moist (for instance, on really good days or after putting in drops), this seems to be less of a problem. His solution was basically to treat my dry eye, and hopefully this eye glass related discomfort will go away.

    I'm still a bit concerned though since this problem seems highly unusual/rare. I wonder if the dryness is the root cause or if moist eyes would just mask the problem?

  • #2
    I have complained too about wearing glasses causing pain and strain. My rx has been checked,changed glasses cause one said they may not fit correct so on. At home I don't even wear them so basically go around seeing blur. My sunglasses I don't have the issue with which is odd. I tried contacts 1 time over the past 3 years through this and can't tolerate them. My eyes are too dry plus the bleph is still there. I am sorry I don't have more answers for you. Just I can relate. You may want to try a different kind of eyeglasses. Like the shape for example.


    • #3
      It's an interesting problem. Dry eye can often cause vision problems that are difficult to quantify (see recent abstract - I was just reading this yesterday - the full study is based on a literature search on the topic). I would guess it's related to surface irregularity from the poor tear film - though why exactly the Rx glasses would make that worse, hm, maybe the combination of surface irregularity from dryness plus the glasses somehow messes a little with your binocularity? That's just a wild amateur guess, but things like that have been known to happen amongst the LASIK crowd with corneal surface irrregularity for other reasons. (I'm a case in point.) I think that would jive with the contact lenses not presenting the same problem.

      From my own experience back in my early days of eye problems I know it's not possible sometimes to draw a nice clean line between discomfort from dry eye and from eye strain. All very messy.
      Rebecca Petris
      The Dry Eye Foundation


      • #4

        Thank you for the response! Can I ask what your prescription is? I was told that eye discomfort with eye glasses sometimes happens for people with higher prescriptions, which then makes my case a bit bizarre though, since my prescription is quite minor.

        To add on, I had originally had glasses that had quite large lenses where my eyes were not very centred in them. I was told by an optometrist that this could be contributing to the problem. I then got a new pair of glasses with smaller lenses, where my eyes were more centred. I even, upon the recommendation from my optometrist, got Nikon Bi-Aspheric lenses ( Basically, from my understanding, the Bi-Aspheric lense is digitally customized for the frame, so that regardless of where you're looking out of the lense (the centre or the far sides) there is no distortion. This did not seem to make a difference though for me. I now have regular lenses and there has been no difference for me, so it seems distortion was NOT the reason.

        One optometrist thought it might be a binocularity issue, while another I saw, after doing some tests, said my bincularity is fine.

        One recent explanation by an optometrist that I was given for the discomfort (assuming it is "irritation" and not "strain") was that with dry eye, part of the surface of the eye is a bit irritated, and with each blink, the abrasion from the blink adds to the surface irritation. This is consistent with contacts causing less discomfort (not including dryness) since the contacts would provide a buffer, protecting the surface of the eye. However, if the problem is "strain," my optometrist told me that both contacts and eye glasses exert the same "strain" on the eyes, so there shouldn't be a difference in terms of strain.

        Also, it turns out there is an older thread on pretty much the same topic (

        If it is okay, I have added you as a friend, and sent a request for you to add me. I think it would be great if we could have each others' contact, so that if one of us becomes aware of the exact problem (or solution), we let the others know in hopes that it will help them too. I hardly wear glasses now, even when out of the house, and it is quite unfortunate to not be able to be able to see the people and places around you.


        • #5
          One would think that wearing glasses would be better than wearing contacts for dry eyes, but my eyes are much drier with my glasses compared to my contacts. I just got a new pair of glasses about 6 weeks ago, and I can only wear them comfortably at night when I am getting ready for bed. I wear accuvue oasis contacts and they are fairly comfortable, but I would be glad to go without them and just wear glasses, but my eyes are actually worse with the glasses..weird!


          • #6
            I saw my current optometrist just last week. He questioned whether it might be just a matter of the fit of glasses; and that I could compare my regular glasses to sunglasses for the strain feeling. Experimenting while watching movies from afar and being at my computer (I would try holding up my glasses with my fingers so there was no pressure on my nose), it seems that there is indeed less (but still some) strain/discomfort when there is no weight on my nose. Wearing my sunglasses around my room produced a similar strain/discomfort, though less strong (maybe because my sunglasses are lighter?). To note, the first time I experienced this strain issue four years ago was when I had one of the lighter glasses on the market. Perhaps I just have a hypersensitivity to weight on my nose? I don’t think it is just that though. I am having new glasses currently being made which are among the lighter out there. My previous pair were of the more average weight. I am also getting Essilor lenses instead of Nikon (which I’ve always used, except for my very first pair). This is in hopes that just maybe a different lens will reduce the discomfort.

            Would love to hear anyone's updates or new discoveries.


            • #7
              Hi Anomie. Realize this post is made several years ago. I have been having similar issues and PMed you. So far OTC lubricant drops have worked best, more specifically Systane Gel drops. I've also experimented with several glasses weights/types and found no relief. I do find that even glasses without a lens strain my eyes and that the larger the lens the worse strain I experience.


              • #8
                Thanks cloud805! I've sent you an e-mail to be efficient. If we come up with any answers I'll update here. Also, I very much welcome private messages if anyone else has a similar issue


                • #9
                  Hello Folks, I am suffering from the same issue for last few months. I have been wearing glasses since I was 15. But for past few months I started to have severe eye strain and stinging eyes with headache. I thought must of change of prescription from my glasses. After several visits to Opticians and Ophthalmologist I am stuck. I am fine when wearing daily lenses (same equivalent prescription) but when I wear glasses i start to get severe eye burning and headache.
                  Please suggest if you guys have found some Ophthalmologist pretty much told me that has not heard of it before and that I should just keep trying to adjust to it.


                  • #10
                    Hi Jalebi, thanks for also chiming in here. I've had a fair bit of ball and forth talk over e-mail with cloud805 over the last year who has similar symptoms to what you and I also seem to be experiencing. Unfortunately neither of us have knock down solutions. But there is some things we do that makes things more manageable.

                    Can I ask how old you are now? I had been wearing glasses regularly since I was 19 or 20 years old (and I had worn them occasionally before then since I was 17), and I experienced my symptoms when I was about 21 or 22. I'm 30 now.

                    And what is your prescription?

                    I have probably seen about seven different optometrists (my sister and brother in law are also optometrists), and two ophthalmologists who none have a clear sense of what it is. I've also mentioned this to several opticians who didn't have an explanation of why, though I assume they typically would have less medical expertise.

                    A few things for now
                    - for me, the eye strain (stinging when wearing glasses for too long) and dryness seem to be related. At the least, the more moist my eyes (via eye drops), the less strain discomfort I experience.
                    - I basically avoid glasses unless I need them (e.g. watching movies, or playing hockey for which I will use contacts). Otherwise, I go without correction which is not ideal but manageable enough with a -2.0 prescription.
                    - After a suggestion from my optometrist, I got glasses with a slightly weaker prescription. It's not a solution, but makes wearing glasses a little bit more comfortable for me (but with the trade off of, less great vision)
                    - I had connected with several others too before who had similar symptoms and seemingly overcome their eye issues. I followed up with them a while ago. One person said, "I think my problem was mainly due to anxiety or depression even though I was not diagnosed with that. Things just started to get better when I tried to think less and take it lightly. Also, I have completely stopped wearing contact lenses." Another responded with "Actually I don't have dry eyes. But I do have allergies. Some of the sensations I had on my lower eyelid went away after I took a prescription anti histamine eye drop with oral antihistamine.
                    Also, . . . I managed so pick up some high index(n=1.6) lenses in a new pair of glasses for cheap ($80). I've been told smaller lenses and more rounded lenses (rather than square) should be more comfortable. This new pair is smaller, and more comfortable. TL; DR Have allergies + thinner lenses may be better." And later "My current pair of glasses from Thailand is working better but I'm still not as comfortable as I am without glasses."

                    I could say a bunch more, but I'll stop here for now.

                    I've also sent you private message too!