Reviewed by: Dr. Matthew Miller, OD on Dec 17, 2020

“These new glasses make me a little sick and dizzy!” This is a phrase that’s not uncommon at all to be heard in any optical office. And, it’s true, new glasses can cause vertigo.

In the vast majority of cases, visual vertigo induced by new glasses will go away with time. In some cases maybe even just a few minutes. Your optician may recommend you wear your new glasses first thing in the morning, after a good night's sleep. The optician may try adjusting the fit of your frame to help compensate for any feelings of vertigo you’re having from your eyesight being different. You’d be surprised to know that even just a few millimeters of tilt on a frame can often eliminate feelings of swimming or vertigo immediately.

If you’ve tried to wear your glasses for a solid week or so, and are still having trouble with vertigo or nausea, it’s recommended you have the eye doctor double check the prescription. Perhaps a tweak to the prescription power, or possibly changing the style of lens, such as switching from a progressive bifocal to a lined bifocal, will solve the problem.

While new glasses can cause visual vertigo, glasses, in and of themselves, are usually not the cause for long term, ongoing vertigo. Especially if the optician and your eye doctor have tried everything they know to do to try and improve your vertigo symptoms.

Eyesight and vertigo can be related, but, more often than not, vertigo is a sign of something else, unrelated to eyesight. In most cases it involves the inner ear, illness or disease. Anything that clogs or puts pressure on the inner ear can lead to vertigo. If you swim often and your ears are full of water, you may experience vertigo. If you’ve had an upper respiratory infection, it’s possible your ears have been infected too and are retaining fluid which can cause feelings of vertigo. You might be suffering from a disease, such as Meniere’s disease, that’s causing you to feel dizzy and nauseated.

Certainly if the vertigo is accompanied by other symptoms, such as headaches or vision loss, it’s highly recommended you get in touch with your primary care provider as something more serious could be going on!

However, as was mentioned above, if you’re experiencing vertigo with a new pair of glasses, it’s likely you just need more time to adapt. Luckily, the vertigo issue can often be fixed by a simple frame adjustment or just wearing the new prescription for a little while to let your eyes, and your brain, adjust. It may be you’re seeing so clearly your brain doesn’t know how to handle it at first!