Why Do I See Better With My Glasses Than Contacts?

The debate over the pluses and minuses of glasses as opposed to contact lenses is ongoing. But for people who use both, why do you sometimes see better with glasses than contacts?

Why Do I See Better With My Glasses Than Contacts? in Olympia

Glasses Vs Contacts

While both glasses and contact lenses perform the same basic function of providing vision correction to patients, there are some major differences between them. The largest of these, of course, is that contact lenses sit directly on your eyes while glasses are positioned slightly in front of them. This might not seem like a huge difference, but, in practice, it affects a great deal. It means you need a different prescription for each, since the power will need to be adjusted, and contact lenses provide complete vision correction no matter where you look, while glasses will have gaps, since the lens is in front and not fully around the eye.

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Reasons Why You Might See Better With Your Glasses Than Contacts

There are a few possible reasons why someone who uses both glasses and contacts might notice that they aren’t seeing as well with their contacts on a given day. However keep in mind that while this article is highlighting why some people see better with glasses than contact lenses, there are many people that do see better with contacts than glasses, and it is always best to speak with our eye doctor during a contact lens evaluation to see if the reason you are experiencing worse vision out of your lenses is due to an improper fit or not using the right modality of lenses. 

Your Contacts May Have Shifted Out of Position

While contacts usually stay stationary on the eyes, they can move, and, if they are out of position, will not work as well. If this happens, in addition to blurry or simply less clear vision, you are likely to experience some discomfort. Applying artificial tears, then blinking a few times, can help get it back into place much of the time. 

If that doesn't work, then it is likely that your contact lenses are not the right size and you should see our optometrist for a contact lens fitting. As part of this appointment, our eye doctor will reapply your contact lenses and make sure they are comfortable for you. If they are not, they will measure the curvature of the cornea to determine what the appropriate curve is for your contact lenses and provide you with new lenses. Following a short period of adjustment time, your contact lenses will conform to your eye's shape. In some cases our eye doctor may have you trial another modality or brand of lenses to see if that improves your vision. 

There May Be Debris on or Under the Lens

Contact lenses, unlike glasses, don’t really provide protection for your eyes from dust on a windy day, or smoke. They also can’t be cleaned while worn. So if something gets stuck on the lens, or worse, stuck between the lens and your eye, it can negatively impact your vision.

Often, contact lens infections are caused by germs accumulating under the lenses. This can result in bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic corneal infections.

There May Be Lens Damage

If there is some damage to your contact lenses, it can impact your vision. Unlike with glasses, where a scratch is generally easy to spot and repair as needed, it can be hard to catch. If your contacts are damaged, they should be replaced if they’re disposable lenses. A number of factors can damage lenses, including debris, prolonged use, dropping lenses, long nails, and rough handling. Keeping these things in mind will help you handle contact lenses safely and avoid causing damage. 

Improper Fit

Contact lenses are more complicated to fit to your eyes than glasses are to fit to your face. This is because they sit directly on the surface of the eye, and need to properly stay in place to provide the vision correction you need. Particularly among astigmatism patients (who have unusually shaped corneas), if the fit isn’t perfect, you won’t get the same level of vision correction you get from your glasses, which are not affected by the shape of your eye. If this is the case, you’ll need to see our optometrist to get your lenses re-fit. You can schedule a contact lens fitting by calling at (360) 491-2121.

Overusing your lenses 

One of the most common reasons why people experience blurry vision from contact lenses is due to overuse of contacts. Since contact lenses sit directly on our cornea, it blocks oxygen from reaching the cells in our eyes, which is potentially dangerous and can distort your vision. It is extremely important that you do not overuse contact lenses and always follow the guidance provided by your eye doctor on the proper use of your lenses. If you experience poor vision from your contacts try reducing the amount of hours that you spend in your lenses or even take off a day per week and switch to glasses. This will allow your eyes to get much needed oxygen which is critical for their function and health. 


Infections caused by wearing contact lenses are usually caused by bacteria building up on them. Using water instead of proper cleaning solutions or not changing contacts frequently enough can cause infections.

The symptoms of eye infections can appear as insignificant as burning or light sensitivity. If you notice any signs and/or symptoms of an eye infection, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you experience any of these symptoms, remove your contact lenses immediately and call our eye doctor. Contact lenses don't need to be thrown away. You can place them in the case and bring them to your doctor's appointment. Meanwhile, you should wear your eyeglasses.

Issues such as these only arise for people who wear contact lenses, not people who wear glasses. The reason for this is that bacteria cannot stick to the eye and cause infection.

Eye Conditions

People who have certain eye conditions will sometimes see better with glasses than they would with contacts.


Those who have astigmatism can have their vision corrected with contact lenses or glasses, but often they will see better when they wear glasses.

The reason is simple. Even with contacts that are specifically designed to combat astigmatism, they tend to rotate whenever the person wearing them blinks. When the rotation occurs, they are designed to go back into place properly to prevent any blurring for the person, but it does not always happen as quickly as the wearer would like.

With glasses, the glasses cannot rotate whenever you blink. Therefore, the corrective aspects of the lenses will stay the same regardless of how many times you blink in a day. That means that every time you look through your glasses, your corrected vision will be the same.

Dry eye

Wearing contact lenses for an extended period of time can aggravate the symptoms of dry eye. According to a study in Optometry & Vision Science , about half of contact lens wearers develop contact lens-related dry eye. Dry eye may cause pain, burning, or a gritty feeling, as if something is in your eye. 

In contrast, glasses do not sit directly on the front part of your eyes and are therefore not likely to exacerbate the problem.

Eye Conditions
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


There are several times where you may notice you are seeing better with your glasses than your contacts. Fortunately, in most of these cases the fix is relatively simple, and you will be able to switch back to your contacts, if they are what you prefer, fairly quickly. If you have any other questions, are experiencing discomfort or other issues with your contact lenses and would like to schedule an appointment, you can contact American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121.

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Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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