How do I know if my new eyeglass prescription is too strong?

Getting a new eyeglass prescription can be an exciting experience, especially if you’ve been struggling with blurry vision. However, sometimes your new prescription may end up being too strong, causing vision problems instead of fixing them.

Here are some signs that your new glasses prescription may be too strong, along with tips on what to do if you suspect your prescription is off.

Signs Your New Prescription is Too Strong

Here are some of the most common symptoms that your new eyeglasses may have too strong of a prescription:

  • Headaches when wearing your new glasses
  • Eyestrain, fatigue, or discomfort when wearing your new glasses
  • Difficulty seeing things up close with your new glasses
  • Things seem distorted, warped, or too small with your new prescription
  • Dizziness, vertigo, or feeling off-balance when wearing your new glasses
  • Nausea or motion sickness when wearing your new prescription
  • Needing to squint or close one eye to see clearly with your new glasses
  • Having to tilt your head back to see through your new lenses

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s a good indication that your prescription may be too strong. The most common symptoms are headaches, eyestrain, and difficulty with near vision. The stronger the prescription, the more likely it is to cause these issues if it doesn’t match your eyes’ actual needs.

Causes of Getting Too Strong of an Eyeglass Prescription

There are a few possible reasons why your new prescription may end up being too strong:

  • Errors during your eye exam – If your eye doctor overestimated your degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism, it can result in glasses that are too strong.
  • Outdated prescriptions – If you are still using an old prescription when your vision has changed, your new glasses will feel too strong.
  • Change in your vision – Your vision can change over time. A prescription that was once correct can become too strong if your vision has improved slightly.
  • Adaptation issues – It can take time to get used to a new prescription. In some cases, the prescription is accurate but it feels too strong at first.
  • Unnecessary bifocals/progressives – Sometimes bifocals or progressive lenses are prescribed when they aren’t needed, making glasses feel too strong.
  • Prescribing prism unnecessarily – Prism sometimes gets overprescribed, which can make glasses feel distorted.

The most common reasons involve getting a prescription that doesn’t precisely match your current refractive error due to exam errors or vision changes over time. Discussing the issue with your eye doctor can help determine what went wrong.

What to Do if You Think Your Glasses are Too Strong

If you are having vision problems and suspect your new eyeglass prescription is too strong, here are some tips:

  • Give it time – It can take up to 2 weeks to adapt to a new prescription. Minor symptoms may resolve on their own as your eyes adjust.
  • Limit wear – Only wear your new glasses for short periods at first. Gradually increase wear time over 2-3 weeks to ease adaptation.
  • Discuss at follow-up exam – Tell your eye doctor about issues at your follow-up appointment. They can determine if changes are needed.
  • Get re-examined – Making an appointment for a repeat eye exam is the best way to verify whether your prescription is accurate.
  • Troubleshoot frame fit – Improper frame alignment can make glasses feel stronger. Have your optician adjust the frames.
  • Try digital lenses – Digital lenses subtract a small percentage of your Rx power. This can provide relief until your Rx can be refined.

Be patient for the first 1-2 weeks, as your eyes do need time to adjust to a new prescription. But if significant vision problems persist, make an appointment to get rechecked by your eye doctor as soon as possible. They can determine whether you need a lower eyeglass prescription.

How Eye Doctors Check if Your Prescription is Too Strong

Eye doctors have a few methods they can use to assess whether your prescription needs to be reduced due to being too strong:

  • Refraction – They will re-check your refractive error with the lens power in your glasses to see if your prescription needs to be lowered.
  • Trial frame tests – You’ll look through trial lenses of different strengths to identify the optimal power.
  • Duochrome test – Uses a special duochrome red-green lens to detect any imbalance in focusing power between your eyes.
  • Retinoscopy – A manual technique using a retinoscope to precisely determine your refractive error while you focus on a target.

These tests allow eye doctors to determine your ideal lens power and make sure your prescription isn’t stronger than your eyes require. Let them know your glasses feel too strong so they can take extra time during the re-examination to pinpoint your optimal prescription.

How Much Can a Prescription Be Lowered if Too Strong?

If your eye doctor determines your prescription is too strong, they may lower it by 0.25 to 0.75 diopters. Here are some general guidelines on how much a prescription could potentially be reduced:

  • Myopia – Nearsighted Rx can typically be lowered 0.25 to 0.5 diopters if too strong.
  • Hyperopia – Farsighted Rx can usually be reduced 0.5 to 1.0 diopters if too strong.
  • Astigmatism – Astigmatism Rx can be lowered 0.25 to 0.75 diopters if too strong.
  • Bifocals – Bifocal add power can sometimes be reduced 0.5 to 1.0 diopters if overly strong.

Your eye doctor will determine the optimal amount of reduction based on your symptoms and the tests they conduct during your re-examination. The stronger your initial prescription is, the more it may potentially be reduced if it is over-prescribed.

Tips for Preventing Getting Too Strong of a Prescription

Here are some proactive steps you can take to help prevent getting stuck with an eyeglass prescription that’s too strong for your eyes:

  • Be thorough when describing your symptoms – Make sure to mention any issues reading or headaches.
  • Ask your doctor to explain your Rx – Understanding your refractive error can help you spot potential errors.
  • Request trial lenses during exam – This allows you to compare different prescriptions.
  • Specifically ask for lowest Rx possible – Make clear you want the weakest suitable prescription.
  • Review Rx immediately after exam – You can request refinements before leaving the office.
  • Get exams annually – More frequent exams make it easier to detect small vision changes.
  • Check Rx at follow-ups – It’s easier to reduce power within the first month or two if needed.

Being actively involved in the exam process and communicating your preferences to your eye doctor can help minimize the chances of getting stuck with overly strong glasses. Pay attention during the exam and ask questions if any part of the testing is unclear.

Can Being Prescribed Too Strong of Glasses Be Dangerous?

While being prescribed excessively strong glasses is usually more of an annoyance than anything dangerous, there are a few potential concerns to be aware of:

  • Fall risk – With glasses that are too strong, your depth perception can be affected and increase your risk of falls and accidents.
  • Eye strain – Significant eye fatigue from glasses that are too strong can lead to headaches and eye pain.
  • Driving hazards – Glasses that are too strong can impair driving ability and reaction times.
  • Difficulty walking – Excess prism from over-minused lenses can make navigating spaces difficult.
  • Disturbed balance – An over-minused prescription can negatively affect your balance and coordination.

While very rare, there is an increased risk of falls, impaired driving, and headaches if your new glasses are significantly stronger than your actual prescription. Make sure to take quick action if your glasses are causing major vision disturbances or headaches.

Next Steps If You Have Too Strong of Glasses

If your eye doctor confirms your prescription is stronger than it should be, the next steps include:

  • Get your prescription refined – Your eye doctor will provide an updated eyeglass prescription.
  • Have lenses remade – You’ll need new lenses made with your updated, lower prescription.
  • Adapt to new Rx – Give yourself up to 2 weeks to adjust to your new, accurate prescription.
  • Monitor vision needs – Notice if your vision changes further so your Rx can be updated again.
  • Schedule annual eye exams – Seeing your eye doctor regularly prevents over-prescribing.

With a refined prescription, you should notice immediate improvement in comfort and vision performance. Don’t hesitate to go back for more prescription refinements down the road if needed. Being prescribed too strong of glasses is common and easily corrected in most cases.


Getting eyeglasses with too strong of a prescription is a common issue that can result in headaches, eyestrain, and blurred vision. Pay attention to symptoms like difficulty with near focus, dizziness, and distorted vision. If problems persist after a couple weeks of wear, make an appointment to have your eye doctor re-examine your eyes thoroughly. They can determine if lowering your prescription by 0.25 to 0.75 diopters helps optimize your vision clarity and comfort. With a prescription better suited to your eyes’ needs, your glasses should perform like they are supposed to. Annual eye exams and proactive communication during testing can reduce the chances of getting over-prescribed glasses.

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