Why do my new glasses make me feel cross-eyed?
The uncomfortable sensation of feeling cross-eyed when trying on a new pair of glasses can be confusing and can even make you feel dizzy or sick. The complex relationship between the eyes and the brain causes this unexpected response. When adapting to a new eyeglass prescription or even a different frame style, you should expect to undergo an adjustment period to the new visual input.
Changes in prescription strength, lens curvature, lens material, type of lens or the positioning of the lenses within the frames can all contribute to the disorienting feeling of being cross-eyed. The brain may struggle temporarily in its ability to process the change in visual information. This is often a natural part of adapting to a new pair of glasses.
The Reasons You May Feel Cross-Eyed When Wearing Glasses
There are a number of factors that may contribute to the feeling of being cross-eyed when you wear new glasses.
1. Prescription Changes
A significant change in your eyeglass prescription can temporarily affect how your eyes work together and lead to a cross-eyed sensation as your brain adapts to the new visual input. If it has been several years since you had your eyeglasses updated, you have a significant amount of astigmatism, or if there is a big difference in the prescription between your two eyes, it is to be expected that it will take time to adapt.
2. Lens Design
Different lens designs, such as progressive lenses or a change in lens curvature, can impact how your eyes perceive images. The adjustment period may involve the sensation of visual distortion or misalignment. It may take several weeks for your brain and eyes to sort out the difference in the change.
3. Pupil Distance (PD)
If the lenses are not properly aligned with your pupils or the pupillary distance measurement is incorrect, it can cause discomfort, affect your depth perception, and contribute to a cross-eyed feeling.
4. Frame Fit
Poorly fit frames can cause discomfort and impact the alignment of the lenses with your eyes, resulting in a cross-eyed sensation. The frame should fit correctly before the measurements are taken, which is extremely important if you wear progressive lenses.
5. Astigmatism Correction
If you have astigmatism and your prescription changed, you should expect an adjustment period. You may experience temporary distortion or misalignment until your eyes adapt. Straight lines may look curved, or the ground may feel like it's approaching you. Your brain and eyes typically adjust within weeks or days.
6. Lens Positioning
Incorrect positioning of the lenses within the frames can affect how your eyes focus and perceive images, causing a cross-eyed sensation. Segment height, optical center, and PD measurements are important, especially for a progressive or multifocal lens.
Tips to Alleviate Cross-Eyed Sensation
Experiencing the sensation of being cross-eyed with new glasses can be concerning, but here are several tips to help alleviate the discomfort and for a smoother adjustment:
1. Gradual Adaptation
Give yourself time to adapt to the new glasses gradually. Wear them for shorter periods initially, and build your wearing time as your eyes adjust.
2. Consistent Wear
Be consistent in wearing your new glasses. Regular wear is necessary for your eyes and brain to adapt more quickly to prescription and lens design changes. Do not go back and forth between your old and new glasses during this time period.
3. Follow Prescribed Schedule
If your eye care professional provided a specific schedule for wearing the new glasses, adhere to it. This schedule is often designed for a successful, gradual adjustment process. This is especially true when moving from a single vision to a progressive addition lens (PAL). Adaptation to a PAL lens can take a number of weeks to find the different powers in the lens.
4. Proper Fit
Ensure that your glasses fit properly. If they are too loose or too tight, it can impact your visual comfort and your adaptation. If any of the measurements, including optical centers, segment height, and/or PD, are incorrect, one could feel cross-eyed. Consult an eyewear professional to make any necessary adjustments, or you can read more about adjusting your glasses on our blog.
5. Check Lens Positioning
Confirm that the lenses are correctly positioned within the frames and that all measurements are correct. Improperly aligned lenses can contribute to visual distortions and discomfort. Whoever made your lenses can assess the frame fit, the measurements, and if the lenses were made according to the prescription.
6. Regular Eye Check-ups
If the cross-eyed feeling persists, consider scheduling a follow-up appointment with your optometrist. It may be necessary to reassess your prescription or make other adjustments to enhance visual comfort.
It is common to experience an adjustment period with new glasses, but most visual discomfort is temporary.
When to Seek Professional Help
While it's normal to experience an adjustment period, there are situations in which seeking professional help becomes necessary. First, the professional who made your glasses or filled your prescription should verify the lenses were made correctly, and all the measurements are correct. If you find that the cross-eyed sensation persists past several weeks or becomes increasingly uncomfortable, consider seeking assistance from an optician, optometrist, or ophthalmologist.
Potential Complications and Solutions
We have included potential complications and solutions if you feel cross-eyed when wearing your new glasses.
- Incorrect Prescription: Schedule an appointment with your eye care professional for a comprehensive eye examination. They can adjust the prescription to suit your visual needs if needed.
- Incorrect Pupillary Distance (PD): Verify that the PD measurement is accurate, and if needed, have an eyecare professional adjust the frame or order new glasses with the correct PD.
- Poorly Fitting Frames: This may involve adjustments like altering the temple arms and nose pads or choosing a frame with a better fit. Sometimes adjustments can be made, and sometimes, the frame will not work for your prescription needs. If you need recommendations for choosing a frame, please see our guide.
- Lens Design Issues: Wear the glasses consistently to allow your eyes to adjust gradually. If discomfort persists, consult your eye care professional for possible adjustments or alternative lens options.
- Prescription Changes: Allow time for adaptation. If the discomfort persists beyond the first several weeks, consult a professional.
- Lens Positioning Issues: Whoever made the lenses for your glasses should check the lens position and adjust the lens to align correctly with your eyes.
- Underlying Vision Issues: Diabetes, cataracts, and other retina conditions can impact vision. Discuss any systemic conditions with your eye care professional. They can determine whether additional corrections or adjustments are needed.
Your eye care provider can assess the situation, identify the cause, and recommend the appropriate solution to improve your visual comfort and overall eye health.
The uncomfortable sensation of feeling cross-eyed with new glasses is a common but temporary part of the adjustment process. Small changes in prescription, lens design, frame size, and shape can contribute to this initial discomfort. Patience and consistent wear are key as the brain and eyes will gradually adapt to the changes in visual input. However, persistent issues warrant professional attention. You should consult an eye care professional to ensure an accurate prescription, proper lens positioning, and optimal frame fit.