Your vision can change throughout your life, and though you may not wear glasses now, you might need them at some point. If you’re not sure whether you need glasses, we’re here to help with some common signs to look out for that may mean you’d benefit from wearing glasses.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we mention, or you’ve noticed a sudden change in your vision, we suggest booking an eye test with your local optician to get your vision checked.

Signs you may need glasses

Common signs you might need glasses include:

  1. Difficulty focusing on objects up-close, for example when reading
  2. Holding things further away to read small print
  3. Difficulty seeing objects in the distance
  4. Blurry, fuzzy or distorted vision
  5. Double vision
  6. Headaches, eye strain, or visual fatigue, particularly when using screens
  7. Squinting or narrowing your eyes to see things more clearly
  8. Trouble seeing or driving at night
  9. Trouble adjusting your vision between various distances

Test your vision with some examples below

Difficulty focusing on objects up-close

As working from home has become more common, we’ve all been focusing on close objects like computer screens and notepads far more than usual. You may begin to notice that, when looking at your screen, notepad or even your phone, your up-close vision is not as sharp as it used to be.

Holding things further away to read small print

If you struggle to focus on text up-close, then you may find yourself moving the paper or your phone screen further away to help your eyes focus on the small print. While this might help in the moment, it’s not a permanent fix, and we wouldn’t recommend continuing to strain your eyes in this way. This might be a sign that you’ll need to wear glasses to correct your up-close vision.

Difficulty seeing objects in the distance

It may be that your vision for close objects is good, but you struggle when you look into the distance. For reference, you should be able to focus on something at least 20 feet away from you without any difficulty. So if you find it tricky recognising your friend standing across the road, or even the TV at the other end of the room, then it could be a sign that you need glasses to improve your distance vision.

Blurry, fuzzy or distorted vision

Alternatively, you may not have a particular issue with up-close or distance vision, but find it difficult to focus your vision more generally. Blurred vision in itself doesn’t mean for certain that you need to wear glasses — if it’s only mild and doesn’t happen very often, it may just be a symptom of digital eye strain or fatigue, so we recommend giving your eyes a rest. However, if blurry vision persists and begins to affect you daily, then it could be a sign that your eyesight has changed.

Any sudden vision changes should be checked immediately by an optician, especially for double and distorted vision.

Double vision

Different from blurred vision, double vision occurs when you attempt to look at one object, but end up seeing two. For example, if you go to pick up your pen but see two, or the picture is doubled when you’re watching TV. This can happen at both short and long distances, and may affect either one or both of your eyes. 

If you’re experiencing double vision, it could be a sign that you need to wear glasses to help correct your vision.

Headaches, eye strain, or visual fatigue particularly when using screens

It can be difficult for your eyes to focus for prolonged periods of time on screens. Working from home or even watching TV for hours without any breaks can cause the eyes to become strained or fatigued, resulting in blurred vision or headaches. Experiencing these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to wear glasses — it could simply be a sign of computer eye strain. But if you find yourself squinting at the screen to see clearly, or experiencing eye strain consistently, it might mean that you need to wear glasses to help you see clearly.

Squinting or narrowing your eyes to see things more clearly

Much like trying to hold things further away to help your vision, squinting or narrowing your eyes is another method people often use to help them see when they’re having difficulty focusing. Again, this may be a quick, short-term solution, but it won’t help to solve your vision problems in the long run, and your eyes may begin to feel the effects of strain long term.

Trouble seeing and driving at night

Seeing at night is usually a little more difficult for everyone, as the lack of light makes it more difficult for your eyes to focus. Low-light conditions can also exacerbate an existing eyesight problem, making it even more difficult for your eyes to adjust correctly, even with streetlights. Part of this is caused by the pupil of the eye being larger at night which can lead to less clear vision.

Signs you may need glasses when driving at night include seeing ‘halos’ around the headlights of oncoming vehicles or streetlights, or struggling to see road markings on a dimly-lit street.

Trouble adjusting your vision between various distances

Even if you can clearly focus on far distances and up-close objects, you might struggle when switching between the two. It may be that when you switch your sight from looking outside or far away to down at your phone (or vice versa) it takes a few extra seconds for your vision to adjust, meaning your sight becomes blurred for a short period of time. Trouble adjusting between long and close-up vision can usually be fixed by using corrective lenses multifocals — your optician can talk you through these in more detail during an eye test.

Types of vision problems

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, it may be the result of a vision problem. Here are some common eye conditions that may be causing issues with your eyesight — but not to worry, all these can usually be corrected with glasses or contact lenses:

Near-sightedness

Myopia (more commonly known as near-sightedness or short-sightedness) is when a person can see more clearly when looking at objects up-close, but has difficulty when looking far away. This may mean that you can read from your phone just fine, but seeing things like the television is tricky, or a road sign in the distance may appear blurry when driving. You can learn more about it on our myopia page.

Far-sightedness

Hyperopia (or more commonly, far-sightedness or long-sightedness) is when a person has clearer vision when looking into the distance but struggles to focus on close objects such as a phone, computer screen, or book. To find out more, visit our page on long-sightedness.

Astigmatism

Astigmatism is an imperfection in the curvature of your eye’s cornea or lens — with the shape being more like a rugby ball than the ideal football shape. It’s extremely common and nothing to worry about. As a result, light is unevenly distributed across the eye, often making your vision blurry, alongside other symptoms such as headaches and eye strain. Astigmatism usually happens alongside myopia or hyperopia — to learn more, visit our astigmatism page.

Presbyopia

Presbyopia is a normal part of ageing. After the age of 40, you may begin to notice changes in your near vision, and things that used to appear clear will become blurry and more difficult to focus on. Other symptoms of presbyopia include finding it difficult to read small print and having to hold things further away to see them clearly. Find out more on our presbyopia page.

Noticed a change in your eyesight?

If you’ve noticed a recent change in your eyesight, are experiencing any of the associated symptoms, or are just unsure whether you might need glasses, book an eye test with your local optician to get your vision checked.

You can find lots more information about other common eye conditions here.