6 Tips for Buying Reading Glasses

August 15, 2023 |read icon 5 min read

Male trying on a new pair of eyeglasses.As people age, many start noticing vision problems when reading. Books or papers they used to read easily within 10-12 inches away now look blurred and fuzzy. The American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that nearly 14.2 million Americans aged 40 and older struggle with farsightedness. They can see far away, but their near vision is blurry.

Vision changes also can be a symptom of other issues affecting eye health. Scheduling regular eye exams can help identify vision correction needs and catch potential medical conditions before they become serious.

Some people with farsightedness need a small amount of vision correction, while others may require a stronger prescription. Knowing the type of glasses needed to improve vision can be confusing. Review six tips for buying reading glasses.

1. Non-prescription reading glasses – Some people with minor vision correction needs purchase reading glasses without a prescription online or at a retail store.

  • Non-prescription reading glasses have magnified lenses in whole-number levels of +0.50 to +4.00, designed to enhance the visibility of words and nearby objects.

2. Prescription reading glasses – With a professional eye exam, the eye doctor can identify vision correction needs. Each eye may require a different correction. Prescription reading glasses can be made to fit a person’s specific vision needs for reading and seeing nearby objects accurately.

  • Using the eye doctor’s prescription, eyeglasses can be purchased online, at the eye doctor’s office, or at an optical business.

3. Quality – There is a difference in the quality of reading glasses.

  • Store-bought reading glass lenses are made of plexiglass material. There may be tiny bubbles in the lenses, which could distort vision. Magnification in the lenses may vary. Often the frames are made of inexpensive materials, so they may break or bend easily. Most frames cannot be adjusted for proper fit.
  • Prescription eyeglass lenses are customized to fit vision correction needs for each eye. These lenses can be made to screen out UV light from the sun, and blue light from the sun, computers, smart phones and fluorescent lights. There also are anti-reflective and anti-fog treatments for lenses. Plus, an anti-scratch coating can be applied to protect the lenses. The eye doctor’s office can adjust the frames to fit your face and straighten frames if they’re accidentally bent.

4. Eyestrain and headaches – People often try on glasses in different correction levels when purchasing non-prescription glasses. If the reading glasses selected have an incorrect lens power, wearers may experience eyestrain or headaches. However, these symptoms will improve if they switch to eyeglasses with a magnification level that better fits their vision needs. In contrast, prescription eyeglasses are designed to correct exact vision needs, so wearers should not experience eyestrain or headaches.

5. Cost – Non-prescription reading glasses typically are not expensive, so people pay for them out of pocket. Prescription reading glasses are more costly, but vision insurance helps cover the expense, making them more affordable. Some vision plans include a network of eye doctors
for additional savings.

6. Vision and health problems – During an eye exam, the doctor will check the eye health and vision sharpness. This comprehensive exam can reveal nearsightedness (problems seeing far), farsightedness (problems seeing near), astigmatism (egg-shaped eyes that can cause blurred vision), glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. The eye exam also can show signs of diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol.

Over-the-counter reading glasses are not designed to correct specific vision problems. However, they are an option, including lenses for computer use that block blue light. Prescription eyeglasses are designed to correct vision problems, which naturally reduce eyestrain, headaches and fatigue.

Was this article helpful? Yes / No

Want the latest & greatest from our health blog
straight to your inbox?

Subscribe today for a periodic email with our latest posts.