If your new glasses are giving you a headache, it could be a sign of muscle strain, ill-fitting frames, or the wrong prescription.

Maybe you’ve known you needed a new eyeglass prescription for a while. Or perhaps you didn’t realize that your glasses weren’t giving you optimal vision until an eye exam made that clear.

Either way, you may be surprised if your new, highly anticipated prescription glasses cause blurry vision, are hard to see through, or give you headaches.

Sometimes, a new eyeglass prescription might even make you dizzy or nauseous.

This distressing scenario may leave you wondering if there’s been a mistake. Before you revert to using your old lenses, make sure you understand what might be causing your headaches and what you can do about them.

There are a number of reasons why new eyeglasses might cause headaches.

Muscle strain

Each eye contains six muscles. As your eyes learn how to view the world through a new prescription, these muscles have to work harder or differently than they did before.

This can cause muscle strain within the eye and a headache. You may be more prone to this side effect if you’re wearing glasses for the first time or if your prescription has changed significantly.

Multiple lens powers

It can be particularly difficult adjusting to bifocals, trifocals, or progressives, especially for the first time.

  • Bifocals have two distinct lens powers.
  • Trifocals have three distinct lens powers.
  • Progressives are known as no-line bifocals, or as multifocals. They offer a smoother transition between lens powers so that you can see near, far, and medium distances.

Glasses that offer more than one lens power correct for multiple issues, such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.

You have to look through the lenses in just the right spot in order to get the vision correction you need. The bottom of the lenses are for reading and working close up. The top of the lenses are for driving and distance vision.

This can take some getting used to. It’s not unusual for headaches, dizziness, and nausea to accompany the adjustment period for bifocals, trifocals, or progressive lenses.

Poorly fitted frames

New glasses often mean new frames, as well as a new prescription. If your glasses fit too snugly across your nose, or cause pressure behind your ears, you may get a headache.

Having your glasses fitted to your face by a professional is important. They will help you choose eyeglasses that fit properly and are the correct distance from your pupils.

If your glasses feel uncomfortable or leave pinch marks on your nose, they can often be readjusted to fit your face more comfortably. This should make your headaches go away.

Wrong prescription

Even though you try your best to give accurate information during an eye exam, there’s lots of room for human error. This may occasionally result in getting a less than optimal prescription.

Your doctor may also have incorrectly measured the space between your pupils (interpupillary distance). This measurement must be precise or it can lead to eye strain.

If your eyeglass prescription is too weak or too strong, your eyes will become strained, causing headaches.

Headaches caused by new eyeglasses should dissipate within a few days. If yours doesn’t, you may need to have your eyes retested to determine if the prescription is at fault.

These tips can help prevent or reduce eyeglass headaches:

Don’t reach for your old glasses

Don’t give into temptation and reach for your old glasses. This will only prolong the headache.

Your eyes need time to adjust to the new prescription. The best way to do this is by wearing your new glasses as often as you wore your old ones.

Rest your eyes as needed throughout the day

Just like any muscle, your eye muscles need rest.

Try taking your glasses off and sitting in a dark room with your eyes open or closed for 15 minutes as needed throughout the day. This may help ease eye strain, tension, and headaches.

Anything that makes your eyes feel rested, such as a cool compress, will help alleviate an eyeglass headache.

Choose antireflective lenses for lengthy computer use

If you sit in front of a computer screen for many hours, eye strain and headache may result. This may be exacerbated by the extra strain of adjusting to a new prescription.

One way to minimize this is to make sure your new lenses are fitted with a high-grade, antireflective coating. This will help reduce glare from the computer screen, alleviating some stress on your eye muscles.

Make sure your eyeglasses are fitted properly

If your eyeglasses feel tight, pinch your nose, or press behind your ears, have the frames refitted and adjusted.

Take OTC medications to relieve headache pain

Take over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate headache pain.

See your eye doctor

Keep in mind that it can take a few days to fully adjust to your new prescription. If you’re still experiencing headaches, dizziness, or nausea after a week, call your doctor.

A new eye exam can determine if the prescription needs to be adjusted or if the frames don’t fit properly.

If you’re prone to migraine attacks, you may be concerned that a new eyeglass prescription will trigger them.

If so, talk to your doctor about getting tinted lenses designed to filter out harmful light wavelengths, such as those caused by fluorescent lighting or the sun. These light wavelengths have been shown to trigger migraine in some people with this condition.

A small older study found that tinted eyeglasses helped reduce the frequency of migraine by reducing visual distortion and enhancing clarity and comfort.

Headaches caused by a new eyeglass prescription are common. Usually, they go away within a few days as your eyes adjust.

If your headaches don’t dissipate within a week, call your doctor, especially if you’re also dizzy or nauseous. In some instances, minor adjustments to the frame or lenses will alleviate the problem. In others, a new prescription may be needed.