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Reading Glasses – The Why, Strengths, and Styles

Have you ever asked yourself what reading glasses are for? If you’ve reached a “certain age,” you’ve probably heard of them and know they are used for seeing close up.

When it comes to choosing the right reading glasses, there are a few things to consider. You’ll want to make sure you get the right strength of glasses for your needs, as well as choose frames that fit well and suit your style. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about reading glasses, from understanding how they work to choosing the right pair for you.

Before going further, I advise you to see an eye doctor for an exam as part of your health care regime. I suggest this because during the exam, health issues might come to light, such as glaucoma, and it’s crucial that you discuss those with your doctor.

Key Takeaways

  1. Reading glasses can help alleviate the strain on your eyes and make reading and other close-up tasks more comfortable.
  2. When choosing reading glasses, it’s important to consider the strength of the lenses as well as the fit and style of the frames.
  3. With so many options available, it can be helpful to understand the basics of reading glasses before making a purchase.

Video: Reading Glasses

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He Said What? – Well, How Dare Him!

what-are-reading-glasses-for - Eye Doctor

If you are over the age of 40, you may have noticed that your vision is not as sharp as it used to be. You may find yourself straining to read a computer screen, holding books and newspapers at arm’s length or struggling to read small print. If this sounds familiar, you may benefit from reading glasses.

For me, this happened what seemed to be overnight. You see, I had gone to my optometrist for a regular eye exam. I had been wearing contact lenses and glasses for years, so this was a routine exam for me. My doctor asked if I was having trouble seeing the print while reading, and my answer was “no.” His reply was, “Well, you’re getting to that age where you might start having difficulty in seeing up close.” What? What did he mean by “that age.” Did he just call me old, lol?

Within two weeks of that visit, I was making that familiar motion of holding a book close and then far away and then close in as an attempt at being able to see it clearly enough to read – for this, I blame him. I know if he hadn’t brought it up, I would have been fine – just kidding.

This was my introduction to the world of reading glasses.

What Causes the Age-Related Change in Vision?

Reading glasses are designed to help people with presbyopia, a condition that occurs as we age and causes a decrease in the eye’s ability to focus on close-up objects.

Presbyopia is:

  • Age-related, usually starting around the age of 40.
  • It is caused by a loss of flexibility of the lens of the eyes.
  • With this inflexibility, it becomes more difficult for the lens to change shape to be able to focus on seeing up close.
  • At about age 60, the progression of Presbyopia usually stops, and prescription changes for glasses occur less often.

When selecting reading glasses, you should also consider any other vision issues you may have, such as astigmatism. Reading glasses can correct presbyopia, but they do not address astigmatism or other vision problems.

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Custom Made or Ready to Wear Reading Glasses?

Custom Made

Your eye doctor is where you find custom-made or prescription reading glasses. During an eye exam, among other things, your doctor will give you a vision test. This exam will provide him with the information needed to provide you with an exact prescription strength for vision correction.

  • The cost of prescription glasses is usually more than ready-to-wear glasses.

Ready To Wear

Another common name for ready-to-wear reading glasses is ready-made or over the counter reading glasses These types of reading glasses have some advantages over custom-made ones, but the main two are cost and styles available.

  • Cost – usually less expensive than custom reading glasses.
    • This allows you to have several pairs for the price you pay for one pair of custom-made reading glasses.
  • A doctor’s prescription is not needed.
  • Having many styles available, the less expensive over the counter reading glasses allow you the opportunity to buy a pair; maybe you usually wouldn’t if they were expensive. This will enable you to try something fun or even purchase a pair to match an outfit, for instance, maybe an animal print or a louder color than you would typically wear.
  •  Often, ready-to-wear glasses are returnable, so if you don’t like them, you can return them.

There can also be some disadvantages to ready-to-wear reading glasses.

  • Some people may experience headaches and eyestrain due to not having the correct strength glasses for their eyes – more common if your prescription is different in each eye. This is because with over-the-counter readers the lens strength is the same for both eyes.
  • Another potential drawback of over-the-counter reading glasses is that they lack the high-quality lenses found in prescription readers. Typically, these glasses are made from a lower-grade material, resulting in increased distortions.
    • There are now reading glasses you can get online that have multiple prescription strengths.

The Vision Council, a nonprofit trade association for manufacturers and suppliers of the optical industry in the United States, states that as many as 28 million Americans wear over-the-counter reading glasses.

When purchasing ready-to-wear readers, especially in a store, be sure to examine them for any defects, such as scratches, bubbles, or waves on the lens.

When wearing reading glasses, it’s important to ensure that they provide clarity and do not cause eye strain or discomfort. If you experience any discomfort or vision issues while wearing reading glasses, you should consult an eye doctor.

Reading Glasses Strengths

Reading glasses come in different strengths, which are measured in diopters. Diopters indicate the magnification strength of the lens. The higher the number of diopters, the stronger the magnification. It’s important to choose the appropriate strength for your vision needs.

The magnification powers of ready-to-wear reading glasses start at +1.00 and increase in .25 increments.

+1.00;    +1.25;   +1.50;    +1.75

+2.00:   +2.25;   +2.50;   +2.75

+3.00 and so on

Now that you know the strengths available, how do you know what power you need? To determine the appropriate strength of reading glasses for you, you can visit an optometrist or use a simple reading glasses chart.

The chart will help you determine the strength you need based on the distance at which you typically read. Each line is associated with a number indicating the strength of the reading glasses needed to see it clearly. Be sure to remove any corrective lenses or glasses before reading the chart.

Choosing the Right Reading Glasses

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When it comes to choosing the right reading glasses, there are several factors to consider. By taking the time to understand your vision needs, selecting the right style, considering material and comfort, and understanding lens options, you can find the perfect pair of reading glasses to meet your needs.

Considering Your Vision Needs

Before selecting a pair of reading glasses, it’s important to consider your vision needs. If you have a custom prescription, you may need to choose prescription reading glasses. Additionally, if you have any vision issues such as astigmatism, you may need to select reading glasses with a specific lens power.

Selecting the Right Style

Reading glasses come in a variety of styles and frames, so it’s important to select the right style for your face shape and personal style. Consider the collection and selection of styles available, including designer reading glasses, to find a pair that suits you.

Material and Comfort

When it comes to material and comfort, there are several options to consider. Look for comfortable frames, and consider anti-reflective coating and high-index lenses to reduce headaches and improve clarity.

Understanding Lens Options

Finally, it’s important to understand the different lens options available for reading glasses. Magnification and lens power are important considerations, as is the fit of reading glasses. Consider visiting an optometrist for an exam to determine your specific needs.

By taking the time to consider these factors, you can find the perfect pair of reading glasses to meet your needs.


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Reading glasses come in many styles for both men and women. Remember, no two pairs of eyes are the same, so when selecting reading glasses, it is advisable to prioritize ones that meet your individual requirements instead of purchasing those worn by your friends or family. Here are just a few styles you might want to take a look at.

  1. Aviator
  2. Bifocal
  3. Cat Eye
  4. Computer glasses
  5. Rimless
  6. Safety
  7. Reading Sunglasses
  8. Tube
  9. Folding

Ordering and Purchasing Reading Glasses

When it comes to ordering and purchasing reading glasses, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience. Here are some important sub-sections to consider:

Through an Optometrist

If you’ve decided to get prescription lenses you will do that through an eye doctor.  If you don’t have one already get a referral from your primary doctor or through friends or family.  

At A Local Store

If you have decided to purchase over the counter reading glasses there are a variety of stores that sell them including drug stores and big box stores.  Be sure to read the eye chart that is usually by the display to figure out the strength you should get. 


If you choose to order your glasses online it is easy and can be done from the comfort of your own home. Most online retailers offer a simple ordering process, where you can select your desired frame style, lens type, and prescription strength. Some retailers also offer a home try-on service, where you can try on a few different pairs before making a final decision.

Understanding Pricing

Reading glasses can vary in price depending on the frame style, lens type, and prescription strength. It’s important to understand the pricing structure before making a purchase. Some retailers offer custom frames or lenses, which can add to the overall cost.

When comparing prices, be sure to consider any promotions or discounts that may be available, such as free shipping or a percentage off your order. Additionally, some retailers offer a price match guarantee, so be sure to check if this is an option.

Shipping and Returns

When it comes to shipping and returns, it’s important to read the retailer’s policies carefully, including the small print. Many retailers offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount, while others may charge a flat rate. Some retailers also offer free returns or exchanges, while others may charge a restocking fee.

If you have a prescription, be sure to check the shipping times and estimated delivery date to ensure you receive your glasses in a timely manner.

In the event that you need to return or exchange your glasses, be sure to follow the retailer’s instructions carefully and keep all packaging materials. Some retailers may require a return authorization number, so be sure to check before sending back your glasses.

Overall, ordering and purchasing reading glasses can be a simple and stress-free process. By understanding the pricing, shipping, and return policies, you can ensure a smooth experience and enjoy your new glasses with confidence.

Taking Care of Your Reading Glasses

When you purchase your reading glasses, you want to be sure to take care of them correctly.

  • Put your glasses in their case when not in use.
  • Wearing them on a chain comes in handy.  This can prevent them from being put down and accidentally setting something on top of them and ending up crushed.
  • Don’t wear them on top of your head as this can misshape them.
  • You also want to clean them. Because you take reading glasses on and off, there is more chance of them getting fingerprints and debris on them.
  • Be careful not to leave them on the dashboard of a car, as the heat can distort their shape.

The steps to cleaning are:

  1. Rinse with tap water.
  2. Spray on special lens cleaner.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to clean. Do not use your shirt, kleenex, or toilet paper, as these could scratch the lens.
  4. Using the cloth, rub the lens in a circular motion until the glasses are free of smudges and debris.


Are there any risks associated with wearing non-prescription reading glasses?

Wearing non-prescription reading glasses does not pose any significant risks to your eyesight. However, it is important to choose glasses that fit properly and do not cause discomfort or eye strain. If you experience any discomfort or vision problems while wearing the glasses, you should consult an eye doctor.

What are some stylish options for reading glasses?

Reading glasses come in a variety of styles, including classic, retro, modern, and trendy. Some popular styles include round frames, cat-eye frames, and rectangular frames. You can also choose from a variety of colors and materials, such as metal, plastic, and acetate.

Can wearing reading glasses for extended periods of time cause eye damage?

Wearing reading glasses for extended periods of time does not typically cause eye damage. However, it is important to take breaks and rest your eyes periodically to prevent eye strain and fatigue. If you experience any discomfort or other vision issues while wearing reading glasses, you should consult an eye doctor.

So You’re All Set

In conclusion, reading glasses are not just a practical accessory for those days when we feel a bit like Mr. Magoo, but they are also a testament to the incredible flexibility and adaptability of the human eye. As we age, our vision naturally changes, and it’s essential to have the right tools to help us maintain our active and independent lifestyles. Reading glasses are a simple yet effective solution that can make a world of difference for seniors and anyone experiencing presbyopia.

Incorporating reading glasses into your daily life can open up a world of opportunities, allowing you to continue enjoying your favorite books, hobbies, and tasks without squinting or straining your eyes. So, the next time you reach for your trusty reading glasses, remember that you’re not alone, and you’re in good company with countless others who appreciate the clarity and comfort these simple yet remarkable devices offer. Embrace the age-related changes in your vision and make the most of your golden years with the help of reading glasses – a small but invaluable tool that keeps you focused, engaged, and enjoying the finer details of life.

Remember, while reading glasses are incredibly helpful, they are not a substitute for professional eye care. If you haven’t had an eye exam recently, it’s time to schedule one.

Thank you for stopping by and taking a look at Reading Glasses – The Why, Strengths, and Styles.  I hope you learned something new and got some ideas about styles before buying your next pair of reading glasses.

What experiences have you had with eye health and reading glasses? I would love to hear. Comment below.

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  1. I personally have left my glasses laying around or even lost. I came into consideration to take care of them more. Some scratches but these tips to clean them will help. Thank you.

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Isn’t losing or accidentally damaging your glasses maddening. Sometimes we can become complacent in taking care of them and end up having to spend unnecessary money – if we had only taken more care of them. Thank you for stopping by to read this article and commenting.

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