Have you ever found yourself squinting at a line of text and asking yourself, Do I need glasses

You probably know some of the more common symptoms that signal a need for prescription glasses: not being able to read the blackboard in class, blurry objects in the distance, etc. But what about symptoms like headaches or watery eyes that we don’t automatically associate with our vision? 

If you’re wondering how to know if you need glasses, scheduling an appointment with an optometrist is the only way to find out for certain. However, recognizing the signs you might need glasses can help you decide it’s time to make an appointment

Signs You Might Need Glasses

Night Blindness

If walking from the bedroom to the bathroom in the middle of the night or discerning your surroundings while night driving seems more difficult than in the past, you may be experiencing night blindness. Night blindness can worsen over time, so it’s a good idea to make an appointment with an optometrist as soon as possible. 

Squinting To See Clearly

Sometimes, squinting can slightly improve your vision if you’re struggling to see something in detail. If you frequently find yourself squinting to see more clearly, it’s time to schedule an eye exam.

Watery Eyes

Watery eyes may be a sign you’re experiencing vision problems. However, watery eyes can also indicate other issues, like allergies, dry eyes, or even a thyroid condition. If your eyes are excessively watering, make an appointment with your optometrist and/or your primary care provider. 

Rubbing Your Eyes

If you notice you’re rubbing your eyes throughout the day, you may be experiencing eye fatigue. This can be a sign you’re struggling to see and may need glasses. (Anti-fatigue lenses can be especially helpful if you’re prone to eye strain.) 

Blurry Vision

Difficulty focusing on blurred objects—far away or up close—may mean you need glasses. If you find it difficult to read street signs while driving or read text in books, you may benefit from eyeglasses or contacts.

Double Vision

Seeing double can be a sign of a serious eye disorder or a result of other health conditions you may have. The causes of double vision vary in severity, but the symptom should never be ignored. If you experience double vision, make an appointment with your optometrist and/or primary care provider as soon as possible.

Frequent Headaches

Headaches don’t automatically mean you need glasses. However, frequent headaches, especially when experienced midday or after staring at screens, may be a sign of vision problems that could be treated with corrective lenses. 

Common Eye Problems That Require Glasses

Experiencing any of the above symptoms might mean you need glasses (a visit to the optometrist will help you know for sure). But what do these symptoms actually mean? Why do people need glasses in the first place?

According to the National Eye Institute (NEI), refractive errors are the most common kind of vision problems. A refractive error occurs when the shape of your eye (or structures within it) prevents incoming light from being focused on your retina. Refractive errors include: 

  • Astigmatism
  • Presbyopia 
  • Nearsightedness (aka Myopia)
  • Farsightedness (aka Hyperopia)

Your symptoms may mean you have one or more of these common eye problems. 


Astigmatism occurs when your cornea (the clear layer on the front of your eye) or your lens (a clear, curved disk that sits inside the eye) is shaped abnormally. As light enters your eye, the abnormality causes light to bend and cause a refractive error. 

Common symptoms of astigmatism include: 

  • Poor night vision
  • Squinting to see clearly
  • Blurry vision
  • Headaches
  • Eye strain

Astigmatism is diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam. Your eye doctor will help you determine whether eyeglasses, toric contacts, or surgery will be suitable treatment for your astigmatism. 


Presbyopia occurs most commonly in middle-aged and older adults and is a normal part of the aging process. As you age, your lens becomes less flexible and can’t focus light onto the retina as well. Common symptoms of presbyopia include:

  • Headaches
  • Eye strain
  • Holding reading materials farther away to read them 
  • Difficulty seeing materials up close

Most people experience presbyopia as they age, typically after the age of 40. Presbyopia is diagnosed with an eye exam. 

Simple changes like reading large print books, increasing font size on your phone, using a reading light, and holding reading materials at a farther distance can help relieve the symptoms of presbyopia, but they’re not long-term fixes. Reading glasses, progressive lenses, or multifocal contacts are often recommended to treat presbyopia more effectively. 


Nearsightedness, or myopia, typically causes objects that are far away to appear blurry (although it can affect your near vision as well). This occurs when the shape of the eye causes light to focus in front of the retina, as opposed to on it. Common symptoms of nearsightedness include:

  • Difficulty seeing far away
  • Squinting to see clearly
  • Eye strain

Although less common, people with nearsightedness may experience regular headaches. Those with severe nearsightedness, or high myopia, may be at a higher risk for other eye conditions. 

Nearsightedness is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam. If you’re nearsighted, your eye doctor may prescribe you eyeglasses or contact lenses


Farsightedness, or hyperopia, typically causes objects close to you to appear blurry (although it can also affect your distance vision). This occurs when the shape of the eye causes light to focus behind the retina, as opposed to on it. Common symptoms of farsightedness include:

  • Difficulty seeing up close
  • Headaches (especially when reading)
  • Eye strain

Farsightedness is diagnosed with a comprehensive eye exam. If you’re farsighted, your eye doctor may prescribe you eyeglasses or contact lenses. 

How Do I Know if I Need Glasses?

Visiting an optometrist is the best way to find out if you need glasses. A comprehensive eye exam will help you understand the cause of your vision symptoms and create a plan to correct them, whether it’s prescription eyeglasses, readers, contact lenses, or surgery. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s time to schedule an appointment.

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