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Reading Glasses: Know Before You Buy


Reading glasses are inexpensive. They come in a wide variety of styles and are available across the United States as a non-prescription solution for the loss of near vision. However, for first-time buyers, the options can feel overwhelming.


Here’s what you need to know about reading glasses before you make a purchase.


Why You Need Reading Glasses

Reading glasses become a necessity to the vast majority of us as we age, usually when we get to our 40’s. The most common cause for this is presbyopia, which occurs due to the natural loss of elasticity in the eye.


As a result, it becomes harder to focus on close objects, like reading the print on menus and smart-phones or when doing close work like sewing.


Some signs that you are developing presbyopia include:

  • Squint or holding reading materials further away

  • Difficulty reading in low-light conditions

  • Eye-strain while reading

  • Frequent headaches

  • Halos or blurry vision

If you are developing presbyopia, your eyes are working harder and straining more than they normally would. Staying current with your eye exams allows you to track the changes, so that know when it’s time to make your first purchase.


Types of Reading Glasses

One size of reading glasses does not fit all. Not only to reading glasses come in a wide range of strengths, but they also come in several different styles. These include:

  • Single Vision (Full Readers): These reading glasses have single magnification throughout the entire lens. This keeps the text in focus no matter which portion of the lens you’re looking through.

  • Single Vision (Half Readers): Similar to the full readers except the lower frame profile allows you to glance over the lens to see without looking through corrective lenses..

  • Standard Bifocals: The upper portion of the lenses is clear or has your distance prescription. Lowering your eyes to the bifocal segment provides magnification for reading.

  • Bifocals (Computer-Style): Computer reading lenses incorporate full reading power at the lower portion of the lens. The upper lens has approximately 60% magnification strength, which is perfect for mid-range desktop reading and other tasks.

  • Progressive Reading Sunglasses: The upper portions of the lenses are normal tinted sunglasses (not magnified). When you lower your eyes, the magnification increases gradually.

Beginning your search for a pair of reading glasses may seem daunting. An eye doctor can help you find the perfect pair of readers in no time!


Off-the-Rack vs. Prescription Readers

Here are a few reasons why your optometrist might recommend prescription reading glasses:

  • You need a different power for each of your eyes: Looking through readers of the wrong power can cause eye strain, making one eye work much harder than the other.

  • You have astigmatism or are nearsighted: Many people have a small amount of astigmatism. Uncorrected astigmatism can cause headaches, tired eyes, and vision that seems a little off. Additionally, off-the-rack readers do not come in the negative lens power needed for nearsighted people.

  • Your optical center isn't "centered": When the optical center is not lined up, you may end up looking through the side of the lens, which can cause eye strain and eye muscle imbalances. Prescription reading glasses are made so that the optical center of the lens is lined up exactly at the center of the pupil.

Off-the-rack readers are essentially two magnifying lenses mounted in an eyeglass frame. These glasses may be fine for people who need the same refraction in both eyes, but it’s still important to consult with your eye doctor on the power of lenses to choose.


Schedule Your Eye Exam Today

Before buying reading glasses, make an appointment for a comprehensive eye examination. Blurry vision can sometimes be a sign of a serious eye problem or eye disease. In addition to diagnosing presbyopia, identifying your lenses power, and helping you find the right type of glasses, eye exams ensure your overall health and wellness.


Schedule an eye exam with Eden Prairie Eye Care today by contacting our office at (952) 944-2792 or via our online platform. We'll help you find the perfect readers while making sure your eyes are in excellent health.