How to Choose Reading Glasses

How to Choose Reading Glasses

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A large portion of the population wears reading glasses to read comfortably without eyestrain.

However, before you start trying on different pairs at a local drugstore, you need to know a few important facts.

Why You Need a Comprehensive Eye Exam First

Only a comprehensive eye exam can determine if your vision problems can be fixed with reading glasses. You might be suffering from other issues, including as degenerative eye diseases or myopia.

What are Reading Glasses For?

how to choose reading glasses

Reading glasses are glasses with lenses that can make it easier to read comfortably by magnifying the text on the page.

You do not need a prescription from your optometrist to purchase them, and many drugstores and retail stores sell them at low cost. The most common reason why people need reading glasses is presbyopia.

What is Presbyopia?

Presbyopia is a medical condition that occurs as individuals get older.

With age, your eye muscles take longer to focus on nearby objects, and this can cause blurred vision while reading, which is why you commonly see older people squinting when reading something close to their face.

If left undiagnosed and unattended, presbyopia can lead to eyestrain and headaches. Reading glasses are a great solution for people with presbyopia, but choosing the right pair requires ticking off a few items first.

Book an Eye Exam to See If Your Vision Problems Are Actually Caused by Presbyopia: People with underlying medical conditions can experience temporary or permanent vision problems, and only an optometrist or ophthalmologist can diagnose these issues properly.

Determine If You Have Other Eye Conditions or Variances in Each Eye: Even if you have presbyopia, there is a chance that one of your eyes requires a different strength lens than the other.

There is also the chance that you suffer from other eye conditions such as myopia or astigmatism in addition to presbyopia. If any of these factors are true for you, then you need prescription glasses, and over-the-counter reading glasses will not work for you.

Get Your Measurements: This is especially important if you plan to purchase glasses online. Everyone has a different head size, and pupillary distance.

How to Choose Reading Glasses

Image by Frank C. Müller via Wikimedia Commons

Buying glasses without factoring in either of these measurements may result in having glasses that do not correct your vision properly. For instance, if you do not get reading glasses that line up correctly with the center of your pupil, you may experience blurred vision.


Finding the Right Style

There are many online tools that estimate how certain pairs of glasses will look on your face. Often they will ask if your face is oval, round heart, long, square, diamond or triangle shaped, and based on your shape you will receive recommendations.

However, the accuracy of these tools isn’t always the best and you may end up having to return your glasses because they don’t look good for fit properly.

Similarly, you can try on various styles at the drugstorewhich is fun, but you’ll never be entirely sure if the measurements are suited to your pupillary distance or face width.


Get Professional Recommendations

In order to get a pair of reading glasses that are perfectly shaped for your face, and perfectly suited to your eye and head measurements, ask your optometrist for recommendations.

Using your measurements they can help you find a pair that looks great and fits perfectly.

In fact, Dr. Peli, professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, states in an article for the school’s online publication:

Even if you’re a good candidate for nonprescription lenses, it’s a good idea to get professional advice on the power of lenses to choose.”

He continues, “Although some states prohibit the sale of lenses with a refraction of over +3.50 diopters, it’s possible—and may be legal—to order them online. “But it isn’t a good idea to go to these higher values without getting advice.”


You can always go to the drug store and buy reading glasses, but you might regret your decision without proper professional assessment beforehand. To make sure you don’t make your vision problems worse, book your comprehensive eye exam today.

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