Getting a new pair of glasses can be both exciting and a little daunting. Exciting to receive new frames, have a change, make a fashion statement, but daunting because your vision may not be quite what you expect the first time you put on your new glasses. For most people an adjustment period to new glasses is inevitable. How long is an "adjustment period"? What can you expect when getting new glasses? The answer to these questions depends on a number of factors, including the symptoms experienced as well as the glasses themselves.

Many people experience distorted vision, difficulty judging the distance of objects, eye strain or fatigue, or mild headaches. These symptoms may range from mild discomfort to extreme feelings of disorientation, and may subside relatively quickly or last for a longer while, but they are temporary. Generally, it takes a couple of days to feel comfortable with new glasses. If you still experience considerable difficulty after several days, it is important to discuss this with your optometrist.

The most common cause of distortion relates to a change in prescription, particularly if it has been a while since your last eye examination, and there has been a significant change in the prescription.

Most people are not aware that differences in frame styles and lens shapes can also affect your vision. Your eyes get used to the dimensions and boundaries of your old frames and lenses. When you change those dimensions you also change the curve of the lenses, the borders that surround the lenses, and the familiar comfort you previously enjoyed.

A switch to bifocal or progressive lenses can impact on adjusting to new glasses, as these may change peripheral vision and may need some changes in your head and eye movements. Extra care is required when adjusting to new progressive lenses, especially with tasks like driving or walking down stairs.

Tips to facilitate adjustment

Protect your glasses by keeping them in their case overnight. Bent frames or scratched lenses make adjustment harder.

Put your new glasses on first thing in the morning. If you switch to them halfway through the day, the sudden difference could make you feel disorientated.

Clean your lenses with lens cleaner or water and a soft cloth before you put your glasses on each morning; dust and smudges on lenses affect clarity of vision, making it more difficult to adjust to new glasses.

Initially, if your eyes feel tired or irritated, you may be tempted to "give your eyes a rest", and switch between your old and new glasses, but this will prolong the adjustment period. Wear your glasses all day; only continual exposure to the new lenses will allow your eyes to adjust to them.

Turn your head instead of moving your eyes if you're wearing multifocal lenses. This takes a little practice, but after a few days it will come naturally.

New glasses should not cause pain, itching or red eyes. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your optometrist.

Special glasses for special needs

You may require a special pair of glasses for specific activities, for example, prescription sunglasses with special UV protection, or special glasses for protection and freedom of movement for sport.

Computer glasses are designed to be used while on the computer, with half the bifocal prescription on top and the remainder on the bottom. That way, you look out of the top at the computer instead of having to tilt your head back to see the monitor clearly.

Occupational glasses have a bifocal both on the top and bottom. They are useful for people who have to do a lot of close work ABOVE their heads, like electricians or car mechanics.

The same general tips for adjustment apply to these, too.

Helping Your Child Adjust to Wearing Glasses

There are various reasons why children can be reluctant to wear glasses, and this can make their adjustment more challenging. Glasses are easily lost, can get in the way during active play and are easy to forget when they're still new. Children may be teased, and even light-hearted comments can make them self-conscious and resent wearing glasses. There are ways that you, as a parent, can support your child as she gets accustomed to her new glasses, even if she initially sees them as a burden.

Let your child choose her own frames. She will need guidance with this, but by involving her in the process and allowing her to make her own choice, she is more likely to embrace her new glasses and take responsibility for their care.

New glasses can be uncomfortable if they're not fitted properly. Before you leave the optometrist, make sure that the frames fit well and feel comfortable.

Younger children can be introduced to wearing glasses through fun and play.

Keep nagging to a minimum! It is inevitable that your child will "forget" to wear her glasses or "misplace" them. Creating a power struggle will not help, so encourage and remind her to wear her glasses, rather than nagging or demanding.

Although it may seem deliberate, your child may actually forget to wear her glasses at first. Integrate them into the daily routine, and after a while it will become second nature for her to remember to put them on.

Praise and reward your child for wearing the glasses, rather than punishing her for not wearing them.

Point out entertainment or sports icons who wear glasses. Harry Potter has helped many kids adjust to wearing glasses!

Let her adjust at her own pace. Children sometimes take time to adjust to new developments in their lives. Patience and understanding on your part will make the process easier.

If after some time your child is still not wearing her glasses regularly, try to determine why. Are the glasses uncomfortable? Do they need an adjustment by your optometrist? Are other children teasing her? Do they interfere with activities like sport?