Can You Wear Reading Glasses with Contact Lenses?

Can You Wear Reading Glasses with Contact Lenses?

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If you wear contact lenses you may find that as you get older it’s becoming harder to read with your lenses. As well, when you get a new contact lens prescription to sharpen your vision for distance, it can be harder to see things close-up.

These types of vision problems are the result of presbyopia, a condition that starts to affect us all when we reach middle age.

Presbyopia – A Natural Part of Aging

Around the age of 40, our eyes have a harder time focusing as our vision moves from near to far, and back again. Not only do many of us need a prescription for distance, we may now also need one for reading.

The contact lenses that you’ve been wearing probably won’t be able to correct these focusing problems. So how do you read when your vision needs a boost, but you’re already wearing contact lenses? You can’t just take out the contact lenses when you want to look at your phone or read something at work. There are better solutions.

The Solutions to Presbyopia

The easiest thing to do is get a pair of single vision reading glasses to wear with your contact lenses. Many people will deal with presbyobia by purchasing more than one pair of eyeglasses.

One pair of glasses will be to help for distance vision while another pair can be single vision lenses that are prescribed to help you with near vision, such as reading or working on the computer.

Another solution to deal with presbyobia is to move to monovision or multifocal contact lenses.  

Reading Glasses – What to Look For

Before going out to buy reading glasses, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Over the counter. Over the counter reading glasses (OTC) are widely available. If you’re relying on single vision glasses to help you read OTC are inexpensive to buy, which means that you can have a pair for the office, another for home, and a third pair in your bag

Prescription reading glasses. Having your eyes tested by your optometrist for reading glasses will ensure that you’re using the right strength. They’ll be able to provide you with an accurate prescription.

Strength. When buying OTC reading glasses be sure that you find the right power you need to read clearly. Most pharmacy or optical stores will have instructions on choosing the right strength.

Start with a lower power, such as +1.00, to see if you’re able to clearly read small print at that strength. If you’re still not reading clearly, move up to the next strength.

Limitations of reading glasses. There are of course some limitations when it comes to wearing reading glasses over your contacts, such as your vision may not be as sharp as it could be.

The greatest limitation is the inconvenience of having to put on reading glasses and then take them off again when you’re not using them. This can be particularly inconvenient if you’re doing work that requires you to keep looking up and down, moving from distance to near vision.

Contact Lens Options for Reading

Let’s take a closer look at monovision and multifocal contacts.

Monovision Contacts

When it comes to monvision contacts, your dominant eye will be fitted for driving and the eye that is non-dominant will be fitted for reading. It will take a few days to get used to these two different contact strengths.


Eventually your brain will learn to ignore the eye for reading when you’re driving, and to ignore the eye for driving when you’re reading. Some people may feel a bit off balance when wearing monovision contacts.

One of the disadvantages of wearing monovision contacts is that you lose binocular vision, which is when both eyes are working together.

Mulitfocal Contacts

Multifocal contact lenses provide you with multiple focus points so that you get clear and sharp vision at varying distances.  The centre of the contact lens will hold the power for reading while the outer circle of the lens will hold the power for distance.


As with monovision contact lenses, your brain will learn to ignore the power that it doesn’t need. One of the disadvantages of wearing multifocal contact lenses is that it can create halos in your vision when driving at night.

Can You Wear Reading Glasses with Contact Lenses?

Need more information about using reading glasses with your contact lenses? Contact Image Optometry to book an appointment with one of their optometrists. They’ll be able to determine what reading strength is best for you.

They’ll also be able to provide you with alternate vision solutions, such as monovision and multifocal contact lenses.

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