What Strength of Reading Glasses Should I Get from My Prescription?

What Strength of Reading Glasses Should I Get from My Prescription?

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Before purchasing for reading glasses, it might surprise you to know that there is a difference between reading glasses and prescription eyeglasses.

While there are benefits to both reading and prescription glasses, it’s important to understand the basics of how the two types of glasses function and the purposes they serve before you determine what strength reading glasses you should get from your prescription.

The Difference Between Reading Glasses and Prescription Glasses

Reading Glasses

Reading glasses are generally prescribed for people with presbyopia, which is an age-related condition that is caused by decreased elasticity in eye lenses. This lack of elasticity makes it difficult to focus on objects at close range.

Reading glasses come in generic strengths that increase at 0.25 diopters at a time, such as +1.00, +1.25, +1.50 and so on. They can be purchased at drugstores, and require no prescription to purchase.

However, you can’t know for sure if your vision problems are simply presbyopia without a proper eye exam, which is why the first thing you should do if you are experiencing vision problems is book an eye exam.

In fact, The National Eye Institute states: “Exams are recommended more often after the age 40 to check for age-related conditions.”

Moreover, without an exam, you will not know if your eye problems are related to other issues, such as myopia, astigmatism or underlying health issues. Those who suffer from presbyopia can also suffer from myopia and astigmatism at the same time.

Prescription Glasses

Prescription eyeglasses, as opposed to reading glasses, are used to fix a variety of vision issues such as myopia and astigmatism. To get prescription eyeglasses, registered optometrists or ophthalmologists will perform a series of tests, including colour vision, depth perception, and field of vision tests.

They will also test your eye muscle function, and focus capabilities. After assessing you, they can then determine which corrective lens options suit you best.

What Strength Reading Glasses Should I Get from My Prescription?

Some people with presbyopia good candidates for over-the-counter reading glasses, and others are not.

At your eye exam, your optometrist will let you know if you are a good candidate for purchasing over-the-counter reading glasses, and he or she will give you the accurate prescription to look for.

However, not all reading glasses are created equally, and the way they sit on your face, the way they line up with your pupillary distance and the quality of the lenses can all affect the accuracy of their vision correction.

It is highly recommended that you bring your reading glasses to your optometrist to see if they are suitable for daily reading wear. Not doing so can result in purchasing glasses that worsen your vision, instead of correcting it.

Image By Jeff Dahl, via Wikimedia Commons

Make Sure Your Prescription Is Up to Date before Buying Reading Glasses

If you haven’t had an eye exam in over a year, and are thinking of purchasing reading glasses, you should see your optometrist first. Depending on your age and medical background, your eyes and vision may be changing rapidly, and you may need an updated prescription even after a year.

In fact, experts recommend that children under 14 and diabetics of any age should have an eye exam twice per year because their eyes are changing rapidly.

Children from 15 to 18 need to have their eyes examined once per year as do seniors over 65. All other adults from 19 to 64 should have eye exams at least every 2 years to assess their eye health conditions.

What You Need to Know before Purchasing Over-the-Counter Reading Glasses

It might be convenient to buy reading glasses at your local drugstore or supermarket, but if you do so without getting a comprehensive eye exam first, you can overlook some very important vision problems that can only be solved with professional assistance.

What Over-the-Counter Reading Glasses Can’t Fix:

  • Different vision problems for each eye: Many people need different powered lenses for each eye. Additionally, one eye may have no vision issues, while the other has a variety of vision problems. Any inconsistencies between the eyes cannot be addressed with drugstore reading glasses.
  • Astigmatism: Astigmatism is an imperfection in the curvature of your cornea. Reading glasses cannot fix this issue and may make the problem worse. Only prescription eyeglasses and some contact lenses can help with astigmatism.
  • Variances in Pupillary Distance: Over the counter reading glasses do not consider your pupillary distance measurements. This means that your drugstore glasses might not line up at the centre of your pupil, causing more eye strain than correction.
  • Poor Quality and Easy Breakage: Cheap, generic glasses are more prone to imperfections and defects that can affect the accuracy of the prescription. They also break quickly, wasting time and money in the long run.
  • You are Nearsighted: Reading glasses are only for farsightedness. They only come in positive/plus powered lenses, so those with nearsightedness (myopia) need negative/minus lenses that are custom made.

Only your optometrist can determine if you need reading glasses. If he or she deems that you have the ideal conditions for purchasing over-the-counter glasses, they will let you know.

They also may have a wide range of high-quality reading glasses to purchase, which will last longer over time.

In Vancouver, you can find high-quality reading glasses at, which also has several locations across the city. To learn more about comprehensive eye exams for presbyopia, click here.

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