At some point in their life, most adults have to start wearing reading glasses. As people age, their eyesight begins to weaken. Eye doctors call this condition “presbyopia,” and it's a completely normal stage in eye health with age.
However, some folks may want to wear reading glasses even if they don’t actually need them. Eyeglasses may make it easier to read things that are up close, or they may help your eyes not have to strain as much when doing certain tasks.
In this article, we’re going to explain the different reasons you might want to wear reading glasses, when they would be beneficial, and ultimately answer whether or not it is bad to wear reading glasses if you have perfect 20/20 vision.
What are reading glasses for?
As we already alluded to, reading glasses are primarily made for people who have presbyopia. This is different than someone who naturally has nearsightedness or farsightedness and needs prescription glasses for vision correction, since presbyopia only affects a person’s close-up vision.
If you start to develop presbyopia, you may begin to struggle reading things up close, start getting headaches when in front of a computer screen for too long, or you may just have difficulty with tasks related to near vision in general. Many people who begin to experience these symptoms opt for over-the-counter reading glasses rather than prescription lenses.
In mild cases of presbyopia, a pair of reading glasses can be an excellent solution since they provide slight magnification for your eyes, making it easier to focus on small print.
How do reading glasses work?
To put it simply, reading glasses are almost like a magnifying glass for your eye. These glasses are curved outward, and they magnify images as they come into your vision.
Rather than getting a specific prescription, reading glasses come in standard strengths ranging from +1.00 to +4.00. You’ll be able to find varieties in increments of +/- 0.25. These strength levels are called diopters.
Depending on your age and the strength of your eyes, your needs for readers will vary. The best thing you can do is to look at a diopter chart and see what parts of it you struggle to read at about an arm’s length away from your face.
Each line of text is marked with a corresponding diopter level, allowing you to conduct your very own sort of eye exam to figure out exactly what strength reading glasses is appropriate for your particular type of eye health. For example, if you can see the 2.00 just fine but the 1.50 is blurry, then you would likely want to go for a pair with a strength of 1.50.
What is 20/20 vision?
When it comes to determining the strength of your vision, optometrists use a system of “number/number” to describe it. If your optometrist tells you that you have 20/20 vision, that means your vision is in line with the majority of other people in that you generally have clear vision of a focal point 20 feet away. If you have 20/40 vision, it means that what you can make out at 20 feet away, others can make out from 40 feet away (meaning you have worse distance vision than average).
Optometrists call this "visual acuity." What’s important to note is that whether or not you have “20/20” vision only refers to your ability to see at a distance. There are plenty of people who struggle to see or read up close that have 20/20 vision.
This can be due to two different conditions: hyperopia and presbyopia. As we already discussed, presbyopia causes you to lose the ability to focus on things up close as you age, i.e., age-based farsightedness. Hyperopia, on the other hand, is the term for farsightedness in general, regardless of age.
Is it bad to wear reading glasses if I have perfect vision?
To answer this in short: no, not at all! Wearing a pair of reading glasses to aid in mild blurry vision generally has no effect on eye health. Many people who have “perfect vision” still opt for a pair of glasses to help with presbyopia or even just because they want to make it easier on their eyes when reading up close.
Keep in mind that you can always discuss your eye care needs and any concerns for vision problems directly with your optometrist if you are uncertain.
Wearing prescription reading glasses that aren't the right fit for your eyes may lead to eye strain or headaches if worn for too long.
In addition, if you have never worn any kind of magnifying lenses before, it may take some time for your eyes to adjust. It is not uncommon for people to experience eye strain, soreness, headaches, or other discomforts when they first start wearing these kinds of glasses.
Will wearing reading glasses make my eyes worse?
There’s a myth out there that if you wear reading glasses your eyes will only get weaker over time.
This is not the case.
Reading glasses, just like any other kind of glasses, are only an aid to your vision. They act to magnify whatever you’re looking at to make it easier to see. Even if you have perfect vision, you won’t see any sort of eye muscle deterioration simply because you wear reading glasses.
What’s the difference between reading glasses and prescription glasses?
You may be asking yourself, what’s the difference between readers and glasses prescribed to you by an optometrist? There are a few key differences worth pointing out:
In a lot of drug store reading glasses, the materials are not as high-quality as what you typically find in prescription lenses. That being said, readers aren't always less quality than prescription glasses. For example, here at Look Optic, we use ultra-lightweight matte frames, Italian spring hinges that bend and flex with you, and prescription quality lenses in all of our glasses.
The other major difference between the two styles of lenses is in the strength levels. With prescription glasses, the strength of each lens is specifically tailored to your eyes. With over-the-counter readers, you’re working with a preset strength level. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you have to find a pair that works for you and your eyes.
Additionally, prescription glasses can be set up to accommodate a wide range of eye problems, including nearsightedness and astigmatism, two things that readers are not made for.
But for people who just have trouble seeing right up close, readers can be a great help, even if you don’t need prescription glasses.
Can I wear reading glasses all day?
This is another question that we get asked a lot. The answer is yes, you can wear reading glasses all day without any problems, but you may not need to.
Depending on the specific glasses that you have, the lenses could be manufactured in different ways. In some glasses, the entire lens works to help with magnification, while in others, there is a bifocal feature where only the lower part of the lens magnifies your vision to a certain point. Bifocals are generally much easier to wear throughout the day, as you will only get the magnification when you look down. If you have the other style, you may notice some discomfort when looking at things that are far away. However, either way, there is no real reason you can’t wear them all day as long as they are comfortable on your face and comfortable on your eyes.
At Look Optic, our mission is to make readers fun, fashionable, and as comfortable to wear as possible, no matter what reason you're looking to wear them for.
Our glasses are all made with ultra-lightweight frames and prescription-quality lenses. With fashion-forward frames like the Liam, we know you’ll be able to find something to fit your face and sense of style.
Readers don’t have to be boring. Every pair of Look Optic glasses is designed to make you feel your best no matter when and where you’re wearing them.
Give them a try--if you don’t like them, send them back within 90 days, and we’ll help you find a pair that you’ll love.
We also offer all of our frames as blue-light filtering readers, as well. If you spend a lot of time working in front of a computer screen or tablet, these filters can help to lessen digital eye strain.
Whatever kind of reading glasses you’re looking for, Look Optic wants to help you feel your best.
There’s no need to fear the fine print anymore!