Optical distortion when wearing glasses

I recently started wearing glasses for reading and using the computer. A fairly simple prescription. However, I'm sure that wearing them i perceive either horizontal strokes as a little thicker, or verticals a little narrower than I do when not wearing them. It's subtle, but it concerns me. Perhaps I'm seeing not only in better focus now but also more precisely, thought It doesn't feel that way. I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed something similar when wearing glasses.


  • Nina StössingerNina Stössinger Posts: 151
    edited January 2016
    How recent is recent — is it possible you are still getting used to the glasses? I’ve had various distortion effects from new prescriptions but my brain seems to sort most of them out over time (I wear mine all the time when awake — the glasses, not the brain).
  • I found I needed glasses for close up work and using the computer and now use prescription glasses that gradually go from 30 to 100 cm focal point. As long as my field of view is level, there is hardly any distortion, but as soon as I neigh my head, even by a few degrees, verticals become distorted.
    And that is not something my brain can sort out, I found out.
    So, now saving up for a bigger screen.
  • @Nina Stössinger recent is a few weeks, so I expect still getting use to them - i wear them infrequently since i don't need them for most things.

    @Bert Vanderveen, thanks for your reply, I also see distortion when moving my head away from level - but I'm having to use a lap top at the moment and I'm really noticing the distortion - along with back and neck ache.
  • This is the thing with glasses: people think they’re just ‘getting their focus fixed’, but there are a few distortions that a lot of people also suffer from. Astigmatism is very common and sounds exactly like what you’ve had corrected,
    @Miles Newlyn – I have the same, and in effect it compresses the view through my glasses more in one axis than in the other.

    It does take some getting used to, and I have to get used even when swapping between frames, but after nineteen years of wearing them, it doesn’t take long to adjust. A benefit I’ve found is that, if I need to take a step back from my work, I can just look over my glasses. A lazy, lazy benefit.
  • Miles NewlynMiles Newlyn Posts: 147
    edited January 2016
    @Rob Mientjes thanks for your reply Rob, It may explain why some of my designs may have had more stroke contrast than I'd intended.
  • I found that it takes a bit of research and a lot of persistence to get to the perfect lenses. As we age and our eye muscles lose their elasticity, we need more help for specific circumstances, such as lenses for screen work, for general vision, and reading print. For those of us who work in type design and typography, it's really quite important to find vision care specialists who have board knowledge and a willingness to spend time helping you. The standard method for doing refractions is to work quickly, so your eyes don't have a chance to compensate ("do you prefer this or this"), but I find that it goes too fast for me and leads to bad results. When I persuaded an optometrist to slow down, the result was much better. One of the most important things for typography is to avoid halos that thicken or distort the lines, which is something that is difficult to perceive quickly. 

    Getting to the right lenses involve knowing the lens materials and coatings. Here is a link to an overview of the basic lens types: https://www.thevisioncouncil.org/content/lens-materials/adults. There are also special coatings that allow more or less light through, depending on your needs. The best coatings I have found are made by the French company Essilor, especially their Crizal coatings. They are expensive but worth it. I also found that they work best for me on Mid-Index plastic lenses rather than on aspheric polycarbonate lenses. It is also the case that different brands of lenses will give different results, even if they are classified the same.

    Don't be satisfied if the results are not perfect! Gather together some type samples you know well to help you make a judgment.

  • @Scott-Martin Kosofsky I really appreciate your help, this is exactly the support I need. I think this may be important for many of us who don't know what to expect with glasses but who rely on our eyesight much more than other professionals.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,321
    I am 72, farsighted with a bad astigmatism, and been wearing glasses for 58 years--bifocals, trifocals, blended, the whole lot.  There is always a break in period as Nina stated above. Last week I had cataract surgery on my left eye and am in vision purgatory since my right eye is unchanged.  I have always been able to 'learn" the best viewing angle but now that my 2 eyes are radically different, I am stymied  and can't work.  This is much harder than I anticipated. I have a month before they do the other eye and am going nuts waiting to work on type again. In order to read, I close my left eye and wear glasses.  If I open both eyes, I see double with a halo and tire quickly.  Wish I could will my eyes to balance but can't.
  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 564
    edited January 2016
    My rule for getting the best results in glasses: get the prescription from an opthalmologist rather than an optometrist. Then be willing to pay more for a better quality lens, i.e. not from a discount store.
  • @Chris Lozos  Do you notice a color shift? I had cataract surgery on both eyes 2 weeks apart several years ago. What struck me most was the color shift. Cataracts being yellow filter the blue end of the spectrum. I was amazed what a difference it made.

    I also had to redraw all of the a,e,g, and s glyphs in a design at the time, since my cataract influenced vision made them appear darker than they really were.
  • Miles NewlynMiles Newlyn Posts: 147
    edited January 2016
    @Chris Lozos wishing you well soon Chris. Put your enforced vacation from type to good use.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,321
    James, I noticed a slight color shift to less yellow with just one eye.  I sure hope that my past 10 years of work will not look weird when both eyes are corrected!
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,681
    When designing, I use flipping and flopping a lot, and 90 degree rotation.
    This reveals one’s eye’s prejudices.

    But it is impossible to escape the subjective nature of vision.
    Most notably, I suspect that the optical illusion which causes us to make vertical stems thicker than horizontal ones affects different people differently.
    So that when I have created what I think is a neutral sans serif that appears to me to be of monoline thickness, accomodating the illusion, others will see it differently.

    This isn’t quite “Van Gogh painted the swirly sky he actually saw”, but it makes me appreciate Antique Olive as personal expression, as much as design theory.

  • I did some scientific research into the Poggendorff illusion, which is an optical illusion that occurs in /lslash with high contrast most notably, and according to the research I've seen the illusion is greater in women than it is in men, and there are notable differences among subjects in general, which indeed seems to support Nick's theory of subjective vision.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,082
    I very recently started wearing some simple, non-prescription glasses for long duration reading and working at the computer. I wasn't having any trouble in these activities, but found that my distance vision suffered immediately afterwards and took some time to return to normal. I've not noticed the kind of optical distortions discussed here, but have found that I need two different pairs of glasses for reading a book and using my computer, due to a difference of about ten inches in habitual distance.
  • I don't see circles as circles, even with glasses. To me they are slightly diamond shaped, which is probably why my fonts tend to the super elliptical.
  • I don't see circles as circles, even with glasses. To me they are slightly diamond shaped, which is probably why my fonts tend to the super elliptical.
    Doesn't everyone see circles as diamonds?
  • Doesn't everyone see circles as diamonds?

    I don't. A circle always looks like a circle to me. Mechanical and rigid, but symmetrical in every direction. Flat, solid state screens have been a boon to me. CRTs always had some distortion, and I could always see it with circles. I could never trust CRTs.

    If you tilt your head, do circles look squarish?
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,998
    edited January 2016
    I am in a similar boat to John. I have progressive lenses for general-purpose wear and reading, and a second pair of glasses just for working on my computer, optimized for the right distance. (With sufficiently large monitors, the top-to-bottom distance covers too large a vertical arc of my vision to work well with progressives or bifocals.)

    I do notice all kinds of optical effects from the glasses, though. I like the extra crispness (I have my prescription really dialed in perfectly right now, which is fabulous), but for lack of distortion my vision is better with contact lenses. Having the lens right on the eye avoids the effects in question, for me.
  • Alex KaczunAlex Kaczun Posts: 163
    edited January 2016
    I also wear progressive lens, and like Thomas points out, have found that wearing contact lens helps minimize some distortions while working on screen. I also often vary the optical size while viewing any glyphs in question before I make any optical corrections. Sometimes just resting your eyes for a few moments, walking away for a minute or two, cannot hurt as well. It's not good sitting for endless hours working on this stuff—try to take frequent breaks.
  • All my typefaces come with free glasses.
  • I wear non-prescription glasses and haven't noticed any optical effects so far. The only problem is having to contantly clean the lenses.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,074
    No glasses but my eyes are totally messed up...weird black-hole sort of optical distortion spots. I use a fairly big monitor at 1920x1080 so I can see the chunky pixels. If I can't see the pixels, I'm lost.
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