Having to buy your first pair of reading glasses can be difficult. You feel like you shouldn’t need eyeglasses, but you’re starting to struggle to see up close, you may be getting headaches, or you may be experiencing a lot of eye strain when reading. Luckily, this is perfectly normal. As you age, your eyes start to weaken, and it takes a little bit of extra energy for them to do the same work that they used to do. This weakening is called presbyopia, and it affects the majority of people once they get to around age 40.
If presbyopia sounds like a familiar issue and you’re starting to think about reading glasses, you may be unsure of what strength reading glasses are right for you. In this article, we’re going to give you all of the information you need to know in order to choose the perfect reading glasses for your eyes specifically.
What is reading glasses strength, anyway?
The first question that we get a lot has to do with the numbers that determine the strength of reading glasses. These numbers are called “diopters,” and they act as a measurement of the magnification level in the lens.
A lower number means less magnification, and as you go up, the magnification gets stronger and stronger. You’ll typically see glasses that start with a diopter level of around +1.00, and go up to +4.00. Diopters increase by amounts of 0.25 as you increase the strength of the eyeglasses.
The lens power you need is dependent on your eyes specifically, but in general, the older you are, the higher a number you’ll need because our eyes just naturally get weaker as we age. In general, if you are between ages 35-45, you should look to start with a +1.00. Those who are aged 45-50 will typically start with at least +1.5, and those in their 50s will likely need at least +2.00. If you’re over 60, you may need something closer to +2.50 or even a +3.00. However, all of this is just a guide, as it is again dependent on your specific eye health. If you’re looking to determine which reading glasses strength you’ll need, you’ll need to do some research.
Do I need reading glasses?
If you aren’t sure whether or not you need reading glasses, there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself to find out:
- Do you ever experience headaches while reading?
- Is it hard for you to read small print?
- Do you have to hold things right up to your face to read them?
- Do your eyes feel tired, especially after reading or using a computer?
- Are you over the age of 40?
While one or two of these on their own may not mean you need reading glasses, if you are experiencing all of these things, reading glasses may definitely be something to consider.
Readers don’t have to be stuffy and boring, either. There are plenty of stylish, comfortable options on the market these days. That’s part of our mission at LOOK OPTIC: to make readers a fun, fashionable, fearless experience. So, if you feel like you may need reading glasses, then you can start exploring what strength and style is right for you.
Why should I wear reading glasses?
If you aren’t convinced, there are lots of benefits to wearing readers beyond just improved vision. Over multiple years, if you continue to strain your eyes without readers, your vision can actually continue to get worse. In contrast, wearing readers early can lower your chances of worsening vision. As you’re able to lessen the strain on your eyes, your eyes can stay stronger for longer.
Even if you aren’t quite sure you need reading glasses, you may want to consider giving them a try--it could really make a difference in the long run!
Can I just try on different reading glasses?
When first looking to get reading glasses, a lot of people just go to a drugstore and try on over-the-counter reading glasses of different lens powers. While this can be helpful, your eyes will usually adjust to those glasses pretty rapidly when you put them on. You may be able to read something in front of you just fine, but if it is not the right strength level for your eyes, you may experience eye strain.
You may also experience headaches and blurred vision if you use the wrong strength. You won’t realize this when you first try the eyeglasses on, but shortly after you start wearing them, you may experience these symptoms, similar to the feeling you have when you try on someone else’s glasses with a prescription not made for your eyes. Your brain tries to correct the image that you’re seeing and make sense of it, but your eyes have to work much harder to make that happen.
Fortunately, there are other methods of determining the right reading glasses strength that you need.
How to use a diopter chart
Instead of just trial and error try-ons at your local drugstore, it’s best to use a diopter chart like this one and essentially conduct your own at-home eye exam. All you have to do is print this eye chart out and hold it at about an arm’s length away, the same distance you would hold a book that you're reading. Look at the eye chart and see what parts of it you can read; similar to the test chart you'd find at your local optometrist during an eye test, you'll go line by line to determine what reading glasses power is most appropriate for your level of vision problems.
Look to see what line has the smallest print you can read without straining. For example, if you can read the +1.5, but the +1.00 is blurry, then you know you likely need a strength of +1.00. Start at the first line and move to lower lens strengths to determine the most appropriate fit. The next step is to get a pair of reading glasses at that strength and try the diopter test again. You may find that the +1.00 strength isn’t quite strong enough. In those cases, you can opt for a slightly stronger lens strength.
How to choose reading glasses
Once you know the right lens strength you need, you can then choose which glasses you want to buy. While getting the right strength is vital, it’s also important that you have eyewear that is comfortable. These are glasses that you may wear for hours at a time, and you want to make sure that they fit well on your face. In addition, if you plan to wear them at work or when you go out anywhere, you want something that fits your style, too!
That’s why we have so many options for eyewear here at LOOK OPTIC. All of our readers are specifically crafted to be comfortable and stylish. If you take a look at our selection, we’re sure you’ll be able to find something that fits your style perfectly.
Check out our Aviator-style Liam reading glasses. This is one of our most fashionable frames to date, and you can get it in a variety of colors, too. If that’s not your speed, we also have the classic Sullivan frame! Regardless of your sense of style, LOOK OPTIC has a pair of reading glasses that can suit you and your taste.
When should I wear reading glasses?
When it comes to your first pair of reading glasses, there are different ways in which people choose to wear them. Some people prefer to only put them on when they need to read something that they can’t quite make out, while others put them on whenever they read anything or if they're going to be in front of a computer screen or smartphone for a prolonged period of time. Even still, there are people who actually wear their readers all day. Some readers only have magnification on the lower part of the lens, known as bifocals, allowing people to wear them even when they don’t need the reading help.
As far as when you should wear them, it really is up to you and your specific needs. If you aren’t sure, you should look to consult with your optometrist.
Do I need to get a prescription for readers?
Nope! Reading glasses are non-prescription and come with set strength levels, so you really just need to do that eye test we mentioned earlier to determine the lens strength that you need. There’s no need to get an order for prescription glasses from an eye doctor even though readers are sometimes referred to as prescription reading glasses.
If you are struggling with nearsightedness or other eye problems, be sure to consult with your optometrist. Reading glasses are made to help those who struggle to see up close or are presbyopic.
What kind of reading glasses should I get?
There are so many different styles of readers that it can be difficult to choose the right style for your face. In general, there are a few style rules you can follow.
If you have a round face, you should look for square frames. These will compliment your face shape best. If you have a square face, you should opt for round frames instead. If you have an oval or heart-shaped face, you have a lot more options for frame shape.
If you need help picking out a pair of readers, make sure to check out our fit guide!