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Is Wearing Scratched Glasses Bad?

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Young woman inspecting scratched glasses.

Eyeglasses let us see the world with clarity by correcting common conditions like myopia and hyperopia. But they aren’t indestructible, and sometimes, their lenses can get scratched. If you’ve ever had this happen, you’ve probably asked, “Is wearing scratched glasses bad?”

When scratched, your glasses can be more difficult to see through. Your eyes may need to work harder to do their job, which can often lead to eye strain. So, if your glasses are scratched, it’s time to visit the optometrist to update them.

The Problem with Scratched Glasses

Glasses are a wonderful way to treat plenty of different visual problems. They provide a smooth, clean surface that refracts light to counteract your natural vision problem. But when the lens has a problem, it can’t do its job properly.

When an eyeglass lens is scratched severely, it becomes much more difficult to see through. These scratches can get in the way of whatever you’re trying to focus on or can change how the light refracts through the lens. This doesn’t just hinder your ability to see clearly—it can cause your eyes to work much harder, and this often causes eye strain.

What Is Eye Strain?

Eye strain, also known as asthenopia, refers to the tired or uncomfortable feeling that sometimes develops in the eye. Your visual system is an incredibly complex network full of tiny muscles and smaller systems. And when it works too hard for too long—like when you’re trying too hard to focus on something—these systems and muscles can tire.

Eye strain often causes:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry vision
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Sensations like the eyes are too heavy

When your glasses lenses are scratched, light scatters and can cause distortion. Your eyes must work much harder to focus clearly, and this constant effort can lead to tired, strained eyes.

Eye strain isn’t just caused by scratched glasses, though. It can develop due to any activity that requires intense focus for a long time, like extended time spent at a computer. Because of this, it’s often called ’digital eye strain’ or “computer vision syndrome.”

Man rubbing his eyes and holding his glasses while working on a computer.

Tips for Preventing Eye Strain

So what do you do? Is there a way to prevent eye strain?

Fortunately, you can take some preventative measures in your day-to-day life to reduce the risk of developing eye strain. It can help to:

  • Make sure your glasses prescription is up-to-date.
  • Regularly clean your glasses with a microfiber cloth and lens cleaner to remove smudges and debris, which can cause scratches.
  • Take regular breaks whenever you’re doing an activity that requires intense focus. Follow the 20-20-20 rule—every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This helps to re-orient the eyes.
  • Optimize your workplace lighting and screen settings.

And any time your glasses start to give you problems, make sure you book an appointment with your optometrist!

When to Replace Scratched Glasses

Knowing when to replace your glasses is crucial. Getting rid of something that’s helped us for so long can be difficult, but your eyes deserve an up-to-date prescription so they don’t overwork themselves.

You may be fine for a while if you have minor scrapes or scratches on the lens or frames. As long as they aren’t obstructing your vision in any way, it’s unlikely that they can cause serious eye strain. However, those little scratches can trap dust and dirt, which can eventually lead to further problems.

If you have serious scratches or damage to the lens, visit your optometrist as soon as possible. There’s no need to deal with eye strain. And don’t forget about regular eye exams as well—these help your optometrist know if you need a new prescription.

Find Your Next Pair of Glasses

If your current glasses have seen better days, it’s time to find your next pair. At Hazleton, Stroudsburg, Pottsville & Nanticoke Eye Specialists, we understand the importance of clear vision and offer a wide selection of high-quality eyewear to suit your needs. Whether you prefer classic frames or trendy styles, our team is ready to assist you in finding the right fit. So book an appointment with one of our locations today, and let’s get started!

Written by Dr. James Deom, OD, MPH, FAAO, FSLS

Dr. James Deom joined the practice in mid-2014. Dr. Deom grew up in the Hazleton area and attended Bishop Hafey High School. Dr Deom graduated from Wilkes University, where he received the highest honors. He went on to study at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry, where he received several commendations. He was the national president of the American Optometric Student Association, recipient of several scholarships, and received the highest academic average in the Health Sciences for MPH curriculum, as well as highest honors for the Optometry program.
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