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How Long Is an Eyeglass Prescription Good For?

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A black metal frame eyeglasses on top of an eyeglass prescription.

We are used to medical prescriptions like liquid medicines or pills expiring, but people often forget that eyeglasses prescriptions have an expiry date as well.

Many of us are guilty of keeping our old glasses tucked away in case we lose or break our newest pair. If this happens to you it’s important not to use that emergency pair longer than you have to—an outdated prescription can come with more trouble than it’s worth.

An eyewear prescription, like any other prescription, has a time limit. How long do prescription glasses last, and can you get new glasses with an old prescription? Let’s look at why it’s important to keep your prescription up to date.

Why Do Prescriptions Expire?

Prescription glasses have expiration dates for a good reason: Because your eyes change over time, your current prescription may become inaccurate and will no longer adequately correct your vision.

Eyeglasses made with an out-of-date, incorrect prescription can cause eye strain, headaches, and, in extreme cases, a serious accident due to blurry vision.

How Long Is Your Eyeglasses Prescription Good For?

If you need corrective lenses, you’ll receive a prescription from your eye doctor. This will be valid for a set period of time; eyeglass prescription expiration periods vary but are typically 1–2 years, depending on where you live.

If you have a higher-than-average risk of your eyes changing faster, your prescription may expire after one year. An example of a shorter prescription timeline is one written for a child whose nearsightedness worsens year after year.

The prescription’s expiration date should be written on the paperwork that you receive at your optometrist’s office. If you can’t locate your physical prescription, contact the last location where you had an eye exam or ordered prescription glasses.

Signs Your Prescription May Be Expired

Using an out-of-date eyeglasses prescription can result in you wearing glasses that don’t properly correct your vision. Even with glasses or contacts, your vision may be blurry if your refractive error (such as astigmatism, myopia, or hyperopia) has changed.

Additionally, you may experience:

  • Headaches
  • Squinting 
  • Eyestrain
  • Trouble focusing
  • Double vision
  • Light sensitivity

If you experience any of the above, schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist.

A man in a gray jacket is wearing a phoropter. While a right hand of an optometrist is fitting a lens on the phoropter and holding a prescription in her left hand.

Can You Get New Lenses with an Expired Prescription?

If the prescription has expired, you can’t get new lenses. This is due to laws and regulations prohibiting the filling of an expired prescription.

Even if your vision doesn’t appear to have changed, it’s still important to monitor minor changes and, importantly, your eye health.

Are Contact Lenses & Eyeglass Prescriptions the Same?

No, contact lens prescriptions and eyeglass prescriptions are not interchangeable, and the numbers are often different. You can’t order prescription glasses if you have a current contact lens prescription, but your glasses prescription is expired.

Other Benefits of Regular Eye Exams

When you have an eye exam, your optometrist does more than just measure your prescription. They’re checking to see if your eyes are healthy when they take images or shine a bright light and blow a puff of air into them.

Some eye conditions don’t cause vision problems until later in life, but they can be detected and avoided early with regular checkups. Yearly eye exams are recommended for children, and at least every 2 years for adults.

Even if your glasses prescription stays the same from exam to exam, you should have routine eye exams to make sure you’re not developing threatening health conditions or eye diseases like:

  • Glaucoma
  • High blood pressure
  • Some forms of cancer 
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Macular degeneration
  • Diabetic eye disease

My Prescription Is Expired, What Now?

Fortunately, finding an eye doctor to perform a comprehensive eye exam and write you a new prescription for eyeglasses is easy. During the exam, your optometrist will run a series of tests to assess the health of your eyes and the quality of your vision.

A comprehensive adult eye exam may include, but is not limited to, the following tests:

  • Health background
  • Visual acuity testing
  • Preliminary evaluations of vision & eye health
  • Color vision
  • Depth perception
  • Peripheral vision
  • Pupil response to light
  • Eye focusing, teaming, and movement

If your prescription has expired, or if you’ve noticed any changes in your vision, it’s time to schedule an appointment to get your eyes examined. Total Vision Del Mar can help update your prescription and ensure that your glasses provide a clear view.

Written by Total Vision

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