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How Long Are Eyeglass Prescriptions Good For?

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A young man trying on glasses at an optical store while being assisted by an optician.

Understanding how long your eyeglass prescription lasts is as essential as realizing when your annual physical exam is due. Like the rest of your body, your vision changes, sometimes gradually and other times quite suddenly. So, when it comes to those glasses that help you navigate the world with clarity and style, how long can you rely on that little slip of paper that dictates their strength?

Depending on your state, an eyeglass prescription is good for 1–2 years. In Kansas, a prescription expires after 1 year, meaning you won’t be able to use it to get new eyewear or replace your lenses. Helpfully, this is also right around the time you should book your next eye exam

What Is an Eyeglass Prescription?

Prescriptions are the foundation of proper vision care. Think of them as the blueprint for giving you clear focus, helping you read, drive, and enjoy the visual splendor of our world.

So, what’s on these blueprints? Everything a lens manufacturer needs to create your personalized eyeglasses. There are a lot of numbers and abbreviations on your prescription. While you certainly don’t need to understand all of them, we aren’t trying to hide anything from you, and it can still be pretty interesting to see what your prescription says about your eyes.

In general, your prescription includes details about:

  • The power of your lenses: Often measured in diopters where a plus sign (+) refers to correction for farsightedness and a minus sign (-) reveals how much nearsighted correction your lens needs.
  • The cylinder and axis: Meant for people with astigmatism.
  • The pupilary distance: The distance between your pupils.
  • The prescription type: Single vision, bifocal, or multifocal.
  • Any coatings applied to the lens: Such as anti-reflective, anti-glare, and scratch-resistant coatings.

This is only a glimpse at all a prescription can entail. This information is used to fine-tune your glasses to how your eyes refract light, compensating for aberrations that cause blurriness.

Why Do Prescriptions Change?

Prescriptions can change for a variety of reasons. For children, their bodies are still growing, often rapidly. This means their vision is constantly changing. Some conditions, such as myopia, first appear in children and progress until adulthood. If not addressed, it could affect their visual health for the rest of their lives.

Just because you’re all grown up doesn’t mean you’re done going through changes. Adults might experience regular, age-related changes, such as presbyopia or cataracts. Certain eye diseases, like glaucoma, can also change how you see. Prescriptions aren’t just about eye health either. Some other factors that can affect your vision temporarily or permanently include:

Not every change to your vision requires an updated prescription, especially if they’re temporary. However, understanding the “why” behind prescription changes underscores the need for frequent re-evaluation. Neglecting an eye exam could mean more than skewed depth perception; you might miss any underlying health concerns.

What’s Wrong with Wearing the Wrong Prescription

Now we know the average eyeglass prescription is valid for about 1–2 years, depending on your state. But this number isn’t a one-size-fits-all measurement. Your age, overall eye health, and recent vision changes influence it. Essentially, the prescription is simply a snapshot of your eyes at that moment in time

Using expired or incorrect eyeglass prescriptions isn’t necessarily dangerous on its own. It’s unlikely wearing the wrong glasses will damage your eyes, though it can be frustrating and uncomfortable. This eye strain causes symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Watery eyes
  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open
  • Neck and houlder pain

Not to mention, the wrong prescription won’t correct your blurry vision. This can make it difficult to do any task that requires clear vision, such as driving.

How to Keep Your Prescription Up-to-Date

Staying on top of your ocular game can be as easy as getting regular eye exams with your eye care professional. A good check-up schedule depends on your age and starts as young as 6 months:

  • 6–9 months: Bring babies in for their first exam 
  • 3–5 years: Children should have an exam before starting school 
  • 6–17 years: 1 exam yearly
  • 18–64 years: at least 1 exam every 2 years
  • 65+: 1 exam yearly

This is, of course, a general schedule. If you wear glasses, your vision could be at risk. Getting an annual exam as your prescription expires can help you stay on top of potential eye health issues. 

Additionally, keep notes on when your prescription says it expires. This isn’t a guarantee your vision will stay the same until that date, so be aware of blurry vision, eye strain, and other signs that could signal the need for an early optometrist visit.

A woman in an optometry clinic shaking hands with her male optometrist.

Style & Clarity with The Eye Gallery

As you navigate the life cycle of your eyeglass prescription, don’t forget that glasses can do more than help you see. They’re how you face the world and show off your unique style. Sometimes, a change in prescription can be the perfect opportunity to catch the new trend or try out a new look.

The Eye Gallery can help you see clearly and look great while doing it. With our selection of designer frames, we can make updating your prescription a captivating experience. If your prescription is expiring, book your appointment with us today and stay ahead of vision changes.

Written by Dr. Megan Baldwin

As a Kansas native (born and raised in Kingman), Dr. Baldwin is thrilled to practice what she loves so close to home. She can’t imagine anything better than to care for her community and build strong ties with new friends and colleagues.

When She’s not in the office caring for her patients, Dr. Baldwin enjoys making memories with her husband, Aaron, and two sweet kids, Parker and Stella! You’ll often find her playing piano, hosting her friends and family in her home, or out for a run. Dr. Baldwin and her husband enjoy traveling to warm places and recently became open-water scuba diver certified!

She chose eye care as her career because Dr. Baldwin has always wanted to help people. The quality of care she provides is incredibly important to her. In an age where doctors spend just a few minutes with their patients, she is proud to give her patients the time and diligence they deserve. More than to simply “see” you, Dr. Baldwin wants to learn more about you and how she can best serve your needs. Your relationship matters.

Dr. Baldwin invites you to make an appointment for yourself or your children, whether you have an eye concern or are simply seeking an updated corrective lens prescription. She will always do her best to provide you the best eye care available anywhere in Wichita.

Professional Associations & Memberships

  • Member, Kansas Optometric Association (KOA)
  • Member, American Optometric Association (AOA)
  • Member, Business Networking International (BNI)


  • Bachelor of Science (chemistry) – Bethel College, 2007
  • Doctor of Optometry – Northeastern State University, Oklahoma College of Optometry, 2011
    • Graduated Magna Cum Laude
    • Member of the Beta Sigma Kappa honor society
    • Presented with “Outstanding Clinician in Ocular Disease” award
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