Do I Need Reading Glasses?
If you’re age 40 or older and are having trouble seeing things up close, it may be time for a pair of reading glasses.
Effects of Aging on Your Eyes
As you age, the lenses in your eyes harden and become less flexible, making it more difficult to focus on nearby objects. This naturally occurring condition is called presbyopia, and it generally starts to affect your near vision in your early to mid-40s. Many people with presbyopia turn to reading glasses to help them see clearly.
Signs You May Need Reading Glasses
Presbyopia typically occurs gradually. You may find it increasingly difficult to focus on objects close up as the condition progresses. Reading glasses can help the eyes focus better and help you see things up close in sharper detail. If you haven’t worn them before, here’s how to know if you need reading glasses.
Holding Things Farther Away
One of the first symptoms you may experience is blurry vision up close. If you have to hold objects like a book or your phone at arm’s length to see clearly, this often means your eyes are having trouble focusing and may be a sign that you need reading glasses.
Having Trouble Reading in Dim Lighting
Do you often use your phone’s flashlight when you’re reading a menu in a dimly lit restaurant? That’s another clue that it could be time for reading glasses.
Experiencing Eye Strain and Headaches After Close-Up Tasks
Spending a lot of time working on a computer, reading, or other close-up tasks can be hard on your eyes even if you don’t have presbyopia. When your eyes have to work harder to focus on nearby objects, it can lead to headaches as well as eye discomfort and fatigue.
How to Choose a Strength
Once you’ve decided to get a pair of readers, the next step is figuring out the right strength. Reading glasses are available in different strengths, also called “diopters” (D) or “reading powers.” The strength is written with a plus sign followed by a number, such as +1.25 D. The strength can range and should be selected based on the amount of correction you need.
The best way to choose your ideal reading glasses strength is to visit your eye doctor. They can perform an exam to determine the reading power you need to improve your vision.
Other ways to determine what strength of readers you might need include:
- Diopter reading test card – This is a test you can do at home. Print the card at full size and hold it 14 inches away from your face. Read the lines starting at the top and stop on the line you can read clearly. The number next to that line is the reading power you need.
- Trial and error – You can find reading glasses in many retail stores. The reading power is usually labeled on a sticker on one of the lenses or printed inside one of the arms. Try reading something up close while wearing different strengths. If you’re in between two pairs, it’s better to choose the lowest strength reading glasses, as they will likely be more comfortable than glasses that are too strong.
Types of Reading Glasses
Most reading glasses have single-vision lenses, which means the entire lens has the same power. If you also need help seeing things farther away, like when driving or using a computer, you may want to talk to your eye doctor about getting prescription progressive lenses. These progressives are multifocal prescription lenses that correct near, intermediate, and distance vision.
Our Multi Focus™ reading glasses offer similar flexibility without the need for a prescription. With three strengths in one lens, they can help you see more clearly for close-up tasks, arm’s-length activities, and interpersonal interaction.
If you only need glasses to see close up and don’t want the hassle of putting on and taking off your glasses all the time, bifocal-style readers might be a good option. The top part of each lens is unmagnified to allow for your clear distance viewing, and your reading power is in the bottom portion to assist your close-up vision.
Reading sunglasses are typically made like reading bifocals: They have an unmagnified portion in the top of each lens and a reading magnification at the bottom.
When to See Your Eye Doctor
If you have blurry vision and can’t see close objects clearly (especially with the highest strength readers), or if you have any other vision problems or concerns, make an appointment with your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam. Keep in mind, visiting your eye doctor is the best way to determine if you need readers and their ideal strength.
When it’s time to give your vision a boost, Foster Grant has a wide variety of reading glasses with reading powers up to +3.50 D (in some styles) so you’re sure to find your perfect pair.
1. Presbyopia. Cleveland Clinic. July 2023.
2. Reading glasses: Prescription numbers explained. Eyebuydirect. June 2023.*
3. How do you choose the best power for reading glasses? All About Vision. January 2019.*
4. Progressive lenses: No-line multifocals for a younger you. All About Vision. February 2019.*
*Like Foster Grant, Eyebuydirect, All About Vision, and AAV Media, LLC are affiliates of EssilorLuxottica.