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Everything you need to know about reading glasses

Lensmart 2021-10-07

As you age your close-up vision naturally deteriorates. This is a completely natural process however it can mean you may struggle to read a book comfortably or work at your computer for long periods of time without causing eye strain. But do not fear! Reading glasses are here to save the day.


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They are designed to only be worn for close-up work, and when you are not using them, you might tuck your glasses case into your bag, or you might wear them with a cord around your neck. Some may even require two sets of glasses: for for close print such as books and another for mid-distance reading such as using a computer screen.

 

How do reading glasses work

A common misconception made about reading glasses is the assumption that they magnify small print. They don’t; they actually work by providing the correct diopter strength making it easier to read small print. Reading glasses are available in diopter strengths between +0.75 to +4.00 and can be purchased both over the counter and as a prescription.


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Manufacturers may refer to diopter strength as magnification power in order to ease confusion with anyone unfamiliar with the inner workings of reading glasses. But remember they aren’t the same thing even though the terms may be used interchangeably.

 

With every diopter there is a sweet spot range where close vision is brought into sharper focus. This will change from person to person. If the diopter is too weak for your individual needs, then you will notice that you need to move the reading material farther away from your face so it can be clearly seen. If the diopter is too strong then you may find yourself holding your book a little too close for comfort.

 

The average person holds reading material between 14-18 inches away from their face. To restore the ability to read within this range you will need a diopter that sharpens focus within the distance. For a pair of glasses used for working at a desk and using a computer monitor, you will be reading from 24 inches away, so you will need a weaker power diopter than you would for reading.

 

When to wear reading glasses

It is exactly as it says on the tin; you use reading glasses for reading. But that isn’t all you may use them for. Reading glasses can be used for any close up work in which you may be holding objects in close proximity such as threading a fishing line or sewing. Just grab your handy reading glasses when you are having difficulty with any close up task.

 

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If you find that it’s easier to read if you hold reading materials further away from your face, have blurry vision when doing close-up work, struggle to read in dim light, and have tension headaches at the end of a workday, then it might be a good idea to take a quick eye exam.

 

Most people will experience eye degeneration starting in their forties, and their eyesight will continue to worsen until about sixty-five years old. So age can be a solid indicator of whether or not you need reading glasses. Presbyopia is common in old age and results in the loss of the ability to concentrate on close-up objects.

 

How to pick the best reading glasses

Once you have come to the conclusion that you need reading glasses, you then have the question of which pair is the best? Or which pair is best for me? There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to eyewear.


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You will find reading glasses in two main styles. Full-frames in which the whole lens is made in the reading prescription and half-eyes these are smaller half-moon style glasses that sit lower on your nose. You might also hear about glasses with multiple prescription types in one lens; these are called multifocal glasses, and there are multiple different types of these. However, we will not be discussing these today.

If you spend a great deal of time concentrating on close-up reading material, then you might want to consider full reading glasses. These provide a larger field of vision for reading, but you will find that if you look up, the rest of the room will appear blurry.

Or, if you are considering the “half-eye” style reading glasses, these allow you to look down through the lens for near work and look up and over them to see in the distance.

Next, when considering which types of reading glasses suit, you best you will have to decide between ready-made or prescription glasses. You can get reading glasses custom-made from an optician, or you can purchase them over the counter at your local pharmacy and many other types of stores.

Over the counter, ready-made readers are considerably less expensive than custom eyewear. This means you can potentially own multiple pairs of reading specs; you always have a pair nearby. So this option might be a good idea if you are particularly clumsy or prone to losing things (like me).

You can also purchase ready-made readers in plenty of fun styles and colors so you can experiment with what styles suit you best. And since they are inexpensive, you can try out all sorts of outrageous styles without risking any huge sum of money.

However, there is a drawing pack for purchasing reading glasses over the counter. They are “one-size-fits-all” items. The lens prescription in ready-made reading glasses isn’t customized to each user’s unique needs. For example, over-the-counter readers will have the same prescription strength in both lenses, and the location of the optical center won’t be optimized for each wearer.

Most won’t have the exact same prescription in both eyes, and almost everyone will have a small degree of astigmatism correction as part of their glasses prescriptions. Wearing reading glasses that are too far off from your actual prescription or have optical centers too far away from the center of your pupils can cause adverse effects. If you experience headaches, eye strain, and nausea as a result of your reading glasses, please visit your optician for a customized pair of readers.

Purchasing custom reading glasses enable you to receive a number of beneficial features not available in store-bought glasses. For example, you could add an anti-reflective coating to help eliminate eye strain. You could consider photochromic lenses, which protect your eyes from UV and high-energy blue light from digital devices and automatically darken in sunlight.

Prescription lenses are also much higher-quality. They are optically perfect with no distortions, waves, or bubbles in the lenses. However, such high-quality comes at a high price, and you will likely only own one pair of prescription reading glasses, so choose wisely.



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