Reading Glasses – The Why, Strengths and Styles

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. Reading Glasses – The Why, Strengths and Styles explores the cause, custom-made vs. ready-to-wear glasses, strengths, styles, and care of reading glasses. 

Before going further, I do 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 if any do that you discuss those with your doctor.

He Said What? – Well, How Dare Him!

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Reading glasses are used for reading media such as letters, magazines, books, and certain ones when looking at a computer screen.

When holding a book or magazine, the distance is usually around 14 inches, and when reading at this distance becomes difficult, it might be time for reading glasses.

For me, this happened what seemed to be overnight. You see, I had gone to my eye doctor for a regular eye exam. I had been wearing contacts and glasses for years, so this was a routine exam for me. My doctor asked if I was having trouble seeing 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?

The medical term for this phenomenon is called Presbyopia.

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.
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Nowadays, most reading glasses are made from plastic, which makes them lighter than the glass counterpart.

There are reading glasses that have full frames where the prescription strength is the same throughout.

Another type of reading glasses is called Half Eyes or Ben Franklin glasses, and they sit lower on the nose. This allows for looking down for near work and up and over for distance.

Custom Made or Ready to Wear Reading Glasses?

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 reading glasses.

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

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

Other common names for these are ready-to-wear and ready-made 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 better allows you to have several pairs for the price you pay for one pair of custom-made reading glasses.
  • Having many styles available, the less expensive ready-to-wear 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.
    • There are now reading glasses you can get online that have multiple prescription strengths.

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.

What Strength Reading Glasses?

The strength of ready to wear reading glasses starts at +1.00 and increases 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? One of the easiest ways is to take an eye chart test online, like the one found at


Reading Glasses - The Why, Strengths, and Styles - Eye Glasses

Reading glasses come in so many styles for both men and women. Here are just a few 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

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.

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So You’re All Set

Unlike in days gone by, today, there are many options to choose from when purchasing reading glasses.  No longer are the Ben Franklin glasses that set down low on your nose the only style available. 

Start by figuring out the strength you need, and from there, the possibilities are many.

Enjoy the process – you might find you actually like your new accessory.

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.

2 thoughts on “Reading Glasses – The Why, Strengths and Styles”

  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.

    • 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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