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How Long Do Glasses Prescriptions Last?

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a woman has a new pair of eyeglasses fitted by an optometrist after her prescription changed

It can be a frustrating experience if you go to get new glasses only to find out your prescription is expired. Fortunately, getting a new one is not difficult, but it will require an exam. While possibly unexpected, eye exams are almost always a good idea.

The optometrist will not only update your prescription, but the exam gives them a chance to ensure that no problems are developing that you haven’t noticed. For example, your eye doctor may screen for glaucoma or other eye diseases and conditions during the comprehensive eye examination.

Suppose you’re getting exams on a recommended schedule of 1 to 2 years. In that case, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever have to wonder when your prescription expires. However, this isn’t always possible, so let’s look at how long your glasses prescription lasts and why it’s important your lenses have an up-to-date prescription.

Why Does a Prescription Expire?

In a nutshell, your glasses prescription expires so that you always have the best vision possible.

Some myopia (nearsightedness) doesn’t progress much more once you mature into your 20s. However, other refractive errors can get worse as you age. In addition, other eye conditions like astigmatism or cataracts can also affect your prescription needs.

So, because our eyes are always changing—even if one particular thing doesn’t—glasses prescriptions expire to ensure you’re seeing an eye doctor regularly. Even if your vision hasn’t changed and your prescription remains the same, the eye exam could save you a ton of problems in the future.

How Long Does the Prescription Last?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long your prescription is valid, as the minimum may vary by state. However, as a general rule, it will be valid for 1 to 2 years, which matches the typically recommended schedule for getting an eye examination.

In many cases, if you have prescription glasses already and your eyes have a history of significant changes, your eye doctor will likely recommend you get another exam in 1 year instead of 2.

Wearing Glasses With an Inaccurate Prescription

Some online retailers will sell eyeglasses without requiring an updated prescription. And while this may seem like an easy loophole to save a couple of bucks, it’s not a good idea.

Here are a few reasons to avoid wearing glasses with an inaccurate prescription:

  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Inaccurate depth perception
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Blurry vision—even minor inaccuracies in your prescription can result in blurring
  • Digital eye strain or eye fatigue
a man squints at his cellphone while wearing glasses because his prescription has changed

Are Glasses and Contact Lens Prescriptions the Same?

Let’s say you get an exam and purchase new glasses with your updated prescription. Then you decide you’d like to buy contact lenses too, so you don’t always have to wear glasses. It’s reasonable to assume that you could pop in anywhere that sells contacts.

Unfortunately, glasses and contact lens prescriptions are different. The primary reason for this is the distance from the eye. Unlike glasses, contact lenses sit on the eye’s surface, which changes the magnification needed. Additionally, not all contact lenses will correct the same thing that your glasses prescription will.

If you’re interested in wearing contact lenses, let your optometrist know when you book an eye exam. Usually, they can get you in for a contact lens fitting exam at the same time. During this exam, they will take additional eye measurements. Also, you’ll typically be sent home with trial lenses to find the right ones for your eyes.

Do I Have to Buy Glasses From the Optometrist?

After your optometrist performs an eye exam, they are obligated by law to provide you with your prescription for no additional charge above the price of the exam. But this does not mean you must purchase your glasses or contact lenses through them.

However, it’s typically in your best interest to buy from them. Not only does an optometrist’s clinic usually have an excellent selection of frames and lenses, but you can physically try them on to ensure you’re 100% happy with how they fit before making a decision.

Additionally, you’re able to benefit from their expertise. There are several types of lenses and coatings available. By asking questions about your vision needs, the optometrist or their staff can recommend the options that will provide you the most value for your money.

Find Out More About Getting a New Prescription

If you’re thinking about updating your glasses but are unsure if your prescription is valid. Give our office a shout. The knowledgeable staff at Metro Eye Care is happy to answer all your questions. And if you need to update your prescription, we’re happy to book you in for an eye exam.

Once we’ve updated your prescription, our professional staff of opticians can help you choose from dozens of frame and lens options to ensure you’re getting the perfect pair of glasses for your vision needs.

Written by Jeff Neighbors

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