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I've been told that wearing eyeglasses to correct poor vision can cause your vision to degrade even further. In other words, "Hold off wearing glasses for as long as possible, because once you start, it gets much worse."

The claim is that with glasses, the eyes don't have to work as hard to focus and then become "lazier" (for lack of a better term), leading to a vicious cycle of needing more and more correction.

Is there any truth to this claim?

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According to the Mayo Clininc, no. They write in their eye myths and facts section:

Myth: Wearing eyeglasses will weaken the eyes: The eyeglasses worn to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or presbyopia will not weaken the eyes any more than they will permanently "cure" these kinds of vision problems. Glasses are simply external optical aids that provide vision to people with blurred vision caused by refractive errors. Exceptions are the kinds of glasses given to children with crossed eyes (strabismus) or lazy eye (amblyopia). These glasses are used temporarily to help straighten the eyes or improve vision. Not wearing such glasses may lead to permanently defective vision [1].

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    I agree. Not wearing glasses can actually cause your vision to temporarily deteriorate because the ciliary muscles become fatigued. – anongoodnurse Apr 14 '15 at 23:48
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Another explanation for the eye mis-focusing is that the problem is "habitual strain," not the shape of the eye, and that glasses do nothing but exacerbate this strain. Instead, the cure is relaxation and exercises, via the Bates Method. This explanation is still alive, despite a lack of scientific evidence that it works; Bates's seminal Perfect Sight Without Glasses, first published in 1920, is now in its 6th edition (2013).

Anecdotally, though, glasses may cause the wearer to realize how bad their vision was before. And as with any impoverished sense, the brain will have learned to fill in the perceptual gaps automatically. New glasses-wearers may find their vision "degrading" as they lose their internalized accommodations, which are no longer needed.

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    "...glasses do nothing but exacerbate this strain." Can you please incorporate support from recognized reputable sources) for your answer? – anongoodnurse Apr 23 '15 at 2:36
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Essentially there are 3 eye conditions:

  1. Myopia (also called shortsightedness or nearsightedness). People with this condition struggle to see far things clearly.
  2. Hypermetropia (also know as longsightedness or farsightedness). People with this condition often - but not always - struggle to see close objects clearly.
  3. Astigmatism: where the eye is shaped like a rugby ball and the vision can be blurry at distance and near.

(A fourth condition, Presbyopia, tends to affect older adults but isn't relevant in a discussion about glasses weakening the eyes).

The only situation where wearing glasses may weaken the eyes is in the case of some young children who wear glasses to correct only small amounts of longsightedness. If done at the right time and in the right manner by an Optometrist or other eye care professional these children can often gradually be weaned off their glasses with absolutely no adverse effects whereas if they are left alone and this is not done they may remain dependent on their glasses into adulthood.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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