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New migraine trigger - not wearing my glasses

New trigger- not wearing my glasses

Last summer, I got a new vision prescription for the first time since I was seventeen (for those who are counting, that’s exactly half a lifetime ago now that I’m thirty-four years old). That means that for sixteen years, I had glasses I wore only occasionally for better distance vision. The prescription was pretty weak, and I ordinarily took out the glasses just for driving, for reading chalkboards or whiteboards during class, and when I was experiencing blurry vision due to an already-present migraine.

Before booking my appointment to pick out new glasses and get an exam in 2013, I put on my old tried and true glasses and could see just fine.  I peered at the trees in the distance and could see the leaves.  I was sure that my new glasses would have the exact same prescription.

But guess what? I was wrong!  Turns out my vision has continued to change over the years, and even though I could see okay through my old glasses, there was a more precise and appropriate prescription for me.  Within a few days, I had new glasses and was totally thrown off because they were blurring my vision and making me feel as if my depth perception was going crazy. (Turns out you have to give your brain a few days to get used to a new prescription—I’d never known that before.)

Now that I’m used to my glasses, I wear them all day, every day.  The optometrist actually told me I didn’t need to wear them every day, and that I could get by without them. But I feel much better while wearing them.  Once or twice I have gone out for a dressy evening and skipped the glasses just to try to be fancier.  I lasted a couple of hours before I took the glasses out of my purse and slipped them back on.

This morning I was writing and checking email when I realized my head was starting to hurt, especially behind my right eye.  I could read the font on my computer screen okay, but I felt much better once I enlarged the text.  I got up to pour more coffee and felt a little off-kilter, dizzy in the way I often am during a migraine attack.  My eye pain got a little worse over the next twenty minutes or so and I suddenly realized a migraine was on its way.

Why are my eyes sore? What’s the deal? I thought.

And then the obvious answer came to me: I had neglected to put my glasses on this morning. Duh.  I usually grab them off the night table as soon as I wake up, but last night I (or the cat) must have knocked them off the table.  I guess when I didn’t see them first thing, I didn’t think to look for them.  Going 33 years without wearing glasses every day will do that to you. I guess you just occasionally forget that you’re a four-eyes.

I retrieved the glasses and put them on, but I am afraid the migraine has already set in.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t get any worse, but I’ll soon have to decide if I’m going to medicate.

For those of you who wear glasses or contact lenses: does not wearing your prescription lenses trigger migraines for you? If so, how long can you go before you have to put on your glasses or put in your lenses?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Bonnie Troop
    4 years ago

    I have migraines that involve light sensitivity and an aura the swirls gold in front of my eyes causing me to lose half my vision. I have had migraines daily for 34 years. In the past few years I have been unable to afford prescription glasses, and am unable to use contact lenses because of the swelling of the eye ball pressure that occurs during migraine. At any rate, I have been using Dollar Tree glasses of different strengths, as well as getting the hand me down prescription bifocals from a friend who also has migraines. I have found that switching around with all these strengths and prescriptions of glasses does indeed trigger migraines! As it is my vision is constantly adjusting from the occular pressure, so I just roll with it! My daughter is getting me rimless bifocals as a holiday present so I will have a single strength and focus to have uniform vision a little more uniform this year. Eye hope you all have a happy holiday, thanks for your writings everyone, always intriguing!

  • Andrea
    4 years ago

    I wear progressive lenses and when I start to get a migraine the progressives can actually exacerbate the pain. When I was treated about a year ago at The Cleveland Clinic’s IMATCH program, they told me to purchase a pair of just reading glasses especially for these times (because I can’t read without glasses for instance if I have to be at work). I’ve found that it makes a significant difference.

  • Shelley
    4 years ago

    I grew up wearing glasses and had LASIK surgery in 2007 to correct my vision. I would still go for my annual eye exams, and 2 or 3 years ago, my optometrist said I needed a very slight prescription for when my eyes were tired. (When they were tired, I’d start to have double vision.) Last year, I found that if I wear my glasses all the time, but particularly when reading, using the computer, or watching TV, my chronic migraine was less severe. So even though I can drive and do most things without my glasses, I wear them almost all the time to lessen the chance of a full-blown migraine attack.

  • Lisa Robin Benson moderator
    4 years ago

    I actually cannot imagine not wearing my glasses, as I’ve had them for a very long time! I need them to see close and far. However, I’m pretty sure I had migraines when I was a kid and needed glasses but didn’t have them yet. Another one of those things in your life that you think is going to “fix” your headaches!

  • MigraineSal
    4 years ago

    I don’t like not wearing my glasses as I feel like I have lost one of my senses because I have to wear my glasses for distance vision so only tend to not wear them when I am going upstairs for my bath, or shower.

    I had a terrible migraine episode earlier this year where my skull was hyper sensitive and too sensitive to even wear my glasses. I had to spend 3 weeks without wearing my glasses and double my Topiramate dosage before I could bear to wear them again all day, which was an absolute nightmare. It was however much less painful than the migraine symptoms from my glasses pressing ( albeit very lightly ) on my skull ! I cannot say if I had a migraine from not wearing my glasses, or not as the pain was even aggravated when I laid on a pillow but I can confirm that the migraine symptoms did improve when I took my glasses off and kept them off until the increased Topiramate took hold!

  • Beth
    4 years ago

    Yes!! I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 12 (I’m 55). If I don’t wear them I’ll have a migraine within a few hours.

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