New Glasses Headache: Causes and Prevention Tips
The new glasses headache…most glasses wearers will or have experienced it. Frontal headache, pain behind the eyes, dizziness… perhaps even nausea. But what is the cause? Is there anything to prevent it? What is the best way to adapt to a new glasses prescription? We will discuss some of the most common causes and tips to prevent and relieve headache from a new pair of prescription glasses.
Why are you getting headaches?
Your brain and your eyes are tightly connected. In fact, the eye is now considered an extension of the brain. The signal for vision is sent from the cells of the retina, through the optic nerve and optic tracts, to your brain. Vision requires both the brain and eyes to work properly. For this reason, strokes, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors can affect your vision.
Persistent headaches can also be a sign your vision has changed, and you should see your eye doctor for a new prescription. Headaches from new glasses can be caused by an incorrect prescription, a significant difference in your new prescription, digital eye strain, an issue with the frame, or the input of incorrect measurements.
Cause 1: Incorrect prescription
An incorrect eyeglass prescription, too strong or too weak, may cause headaches. If a prescription is incorrectly ordered, with the wrong symbol (minus/plus) or made for the wrong viewing distance, a headache is possible. Often, one may want their glasses to be used for computer and reading, but they order single-vision lenses. Using a prescription specifically written for reading but using it for both computer and reading may cause a headache.
Cause 2: Significant prescription changes
If it has been a long-time since you ordered new glasses and there is a significant change in your prescription, it is quite common to get a headache. Big changes in plus, minus, and astigmatism refractive power will change the connection between the eyes and the brain. Things may also look distorted, and your depth perception may be off. For this reason, it is best to get your eyes checked yearly so you may avoid big changes in your prescription at one time.
Cause 3: Digital eye strain
Even with an updated glasses prescription, it is still possible to suffer from digital eye strain. Digital eye strain is characterized by visual disturbance and/or ocular discomfort related to the use of digital devices and stress on the ocular environment. Besides the prescription in your glasses, accommodative and vergence anomalies, altered blink rate, excessive exposure to intense light, closer working distance, and smaller font size may cause digital eye strain. Besides headaches, digital eye strain may cause ocular symptoms like tearing, tired eyes, blurred vision, general fatigue, burning sensation, redness, and double vision, and non-ocular symptoms like stiff neck, general fatigue, and back pain.
Cause 4: Issue with the frame
If your frame does not fit correctly, you may get a new glasses headache. Often, the frame does not sit comfortably on the nose, or the temples may not fit correctly around your ears. Adjustments in the frame fit or frame selection may aid in resolving your headache. If your frame is too small or large, it may also cause a headache.
Cause 5: Incorrect measurements
If certain frame measurements are taken inaccurately, you may get a headache. It is important that your eyes be centered correctly in your frame; if not, blurred vision and distortion may occur. If your pupillary distance (PD), optical center measurements, or segment heights are incorrect, you may be looking through more or less of the lens power and, therefore, an inaccurate power at a particular viewing distance. For example, if you have a no-line bifocal and you have to raise or lower your head to see clearly, headaches, neck aches, and/or back pain may result.
How long does it take for your eyes to adjust to a new prescription?
It can take several weeks for your eyes to adjust to a new glasses prescription. Even if you are a contact lens wearer, there is a difference between the two prescriptions. Glasses sit further from your eyes and may cause more significant differences in image size and peripheral vision distortion. Objects appear smaller through minus lenses and magnified through a plus lens.
If you have a significant amount of astigmatism or if you are changing from one type of lens to another type, it may take even longer. For example, if you have always worn single-vision glasses and you are moving to a no-line bifocal, adaptation may take up to several months.
How to Get Rid of New Glasses Headaches
Tip 1: Add Wearing Hours
If there has been a change in your prescription, you may need to build up the hours of wear time over several days. Wearing your glasses at night or after work for several hours can be an easy way to build up your wear time. It is often difficult to start with a new pair of glasses during the workday. After wearing your new glasses at night for several hours, start wearing your glasses all day on the weekend. By adding the number of hours you are wearing your glasses slowly, adaptation to a new pair becomes easier, and you will soon be able to wear them all day at work or school.
Tip 2: Adjust the frame
If a frame fits uncomfortably on your nose or the temples are too tight or short behind your ears, you may get headaches. By following our guide, you can adjust the frame yourself so your glasses fit more comfortably on your face, and the pressure points can be reduced on your nose and behind your ears.
Tip 3: Rule out other causes
There are many types of headaches caused by a multitude of factors. Migraines, sinusitis, cluster headaches, and tension headaches should be considered if your headache does not resolve. If your headaches persist beyond 2-3 weeks, you should seek medical advice from your eye doctor and/or a neurologist.
A headache is an uncomfortable and debilitating condition. While significant changes in prescription and frame fit are the most common reasons for headaches with a new pair of glasses, prescription information, and eyeglass measurement should be verified. If your new glasses are causing a headache, slowly increase your daily use while your brain and eyes adapt to the new prescription. Other causes for headaches must be ruled out by a medical professional if the headaches persist for several weeks.