What are Reading Glasses?
Reading glasses, also called readers, are eyeglasses that improve up-close vision. Many people wear them when looking at a computer screen or reading.
Some reading glasses feature blue light-blocking lenses. These protect the eyes from the light from technological devices.
Reading glasses have various strengths and can be prescription or over-the-counter (OTC). Over-the-counter readers work best for people with the same vision strength in both eyes.
Prescription readers are a better option if you have:
- Different prescriptions in each eye
- Astigmatism that causes blurred vision
- A need to wear reading glasses for a long time
How to Tell if You Need Reading Glasses
Most people realize they need reading glasses when they strain to read, especially small print. They might move the reading material further from their eyes or shift materials around until their eyes can focus.
The most definitive way to know if you need reading glasses is to undergo a professional eye exam.
Why Do People Wear Reading Glasses?
Presbyopia, or age-related farsightedness, is why many adults over age 40 need to wear reading glasses. Presbyopia occurs due to natural changes in your eye as you age.
However, some people need to start wearing reading glasses much younger. People with untreated presbyopia need to hold reading materials farther away from their eyes to see clearly.
Other signs that you may need a pair of reading glasses include:
- Difficulty reading or working up close
- Trouble seeing in dim light
- Eye strain or headaches resulting from reading or computer work
- Blurry vision when looking at near objects
Other problems may cause these symptoms. It’s essential to see an eye doctor for an accurate diagnosis.
Sometimes, headaches and eye strain are from looking at screens too long. This is also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain. Blue light-blocking glasses are marketed to help reduce CVS, but studies show that blue light exposure is not the cause.
Best Reading Glasses
If you’re shopping for a pair of new readers, here are our top picks:
Everything We Recommend
- Best Overall: Bullabulling Oprah Style Spring Hinge Readers
- Best Budget Option: Gaoye 5-Pack Reading Glasses
- Best Metal Frame: Gamma Ray Stainless Flex Readers
- Best Blue Light-Blocking Glasses: Peepers Blue Light-Blocking Reading Glasses
- Best Folding Glasses: Sevenplus Foldable Reading Glasses
- Best Adjustable: Clic Magnetic Reading Glasses
- Best for Prescriptions: Warby Parker Chamberlain
Best Overall: Bullabulling Oprah Style Spring Hinge Readers
Oprah inspired these stylish and bold reading glasses, and are fun to wear. The spring hinges ensure your glasses stay put if you push them on your head when not in use. They come in a 3-pack so you can leave a pair in a few different places.
- Blue light blocking
- Many fun colors to choose from
- Frames are bulky
- Fit too snugly for some people
Best Budget Option: Gaoye 5-Pack Reading Glasses
If you’re always losing or misplacing your readers, this 5-pack may be right for you. Having five pairs of budget reading glasses on hand means you’ll always have a backup pair nearby.
- More economical than other options
- Blue light and UV-blocking
- May break or scratch easily
- Noticeable glare
Best Metal Frame: Gamma Ray Stainless Flex Readers
These sleek and lightweight readers provide comfort and a classic look. The package comes with three pairs of reading glasses, making this another great value.
These readers are available at higher powers, up to +6.00. However, you should talk to your eye doctor about using high-strength reading glasses.
- High quality
- Run small
- Not scratch-resistant
Best Blue Light-Blocking Glasses: Peepers Blue Light-Blocking Reading Glasses
Peepers is a family-run company specializing in upbeat and fashionable eyewear. Their exclusive designs include a wide selection of fun styles and colors.
All Peepers frames include blue light-blocking lenses, which make these a great option for computer work and e-readers.
- Anti-reflective and anti-scratch coating
- UVA/UVB blocking
- More expensive than other options
- May break easily
Best Folding Glasses: Sevenplus Foldable Reading Glasses
Foldable reading glasses are compact and convenient. This 2-pack by Sevenplus is an excellent value option with magnetic carrying cases and lens cloths. The metal frames come in a classic rectangle shape that looks great on most faces.
- Blue light and UV-blocking
- Easy to carry in your pocket
- Run small
- May break more easily than other designs
Best Adjustable: Clic Magnetic Reading Glasses
Clic reading glasses have a unique magnetic design that allows them to separate and reattach at the bridge. The arms extend behind your head and connect in an endless strap.
Combining these features lets you carry your reading glasses around your neck whenever you don’t need them. The adjustable temples and rigid or soft headband options ensure the highest comfort level.
- The ability to wear them around your neck makes them difficult to lose
- Adjustable for optimal comfort
- You can still lose them if you take them off, and they cost more to replace
- Some people may find the rigid headband bothersome
Best for Prescriptions: Warby Parker Chamberlain
Unlike the other options on our list, Warby Parker lets you order your glasses with prescription lenses. However, you can still purchase these with basic reading lenses if you don't have a prescription.
You have the option of selecting a reader strength of +0.25 to +2.75. Anything higher than that will require a prescription from an eye doctor.
How to Understand Reading Glasses Strength
The strength of reading glasses is measured in units called diopters. It’s the same unit of measurement you’ll find on a prescription for corrective lenses from an eye doctor.
Diopters measure the refractive power of a lens. The higher the number, the stronger the glasses.
What Is the Lowest Power for Reading Glasses?
Over-the-counter reading glasses come in many different strengths. The lowest power is usually +0.25 diopters. These reading glasses will have very mild refractive power.
What Is the Highest Power for Reading Glasses?
Reading glasses increase in power by factors of .25 (1.50, 1.75, 2.00). If you’re purchasing reading glasses online, the highest power available will likely be +2.75.
You may need a more powerful lens strength. In this case, you should see your eye doctor for prescription lenses.
Can You Get a Different Power for Each Eye?
Yes, but you won’t find them as easily as generic glasses. You’ll most likely need prescription reading glasses to get the exact power you need for each eye.
How Do I Know the Right Reading Glasses Strength?
The best way to determine the correct strength of reading glasses for your needs is to visit an eye doctor for a comprehensive exam.
In addition to measuring what reading glasses strength you need, an eye doctor will evaluate your overall eye health. This is essential for early detection of vision-threatening problems, such as age-related macular degeneration.
If you need to buy a pair of readers before you can see a professional, reading glasses strength tests are available online. These tests involve printing a reading chart and holding it a certain distance from your face.
How to Pick the Right Prescription Reading Glasses
Your eye doctor will help you choose the right prescription reading glasses. They’ll create a prescription for your lenses after you undergo a vision examination.
Once you have a prescription, you can choose frames customized to the prescription and your eyes.
When choosing prescription reading glasses frames, consider the following factors:
- Quality of materials
- Frame style
- Blue light protection
- Shipping cost or whether free shipping is offered if you order online
- Whether you can return readers that don’t fit or work for you
How to Choose the Right Over-the-Counter Reading Glasses
If you don’t need prescription reading glasses, you’ll likely be on your own when choosing. Most people use some trial and error when they shop for OTC reading glasses.
You can try a few different magnification strengths and styles when they shop. Some even want a different style or frame based on what they’re doing or where they are wearing their glasses.
Do Cheap Reading Glasses Work?
Yes. For many people, inexpensive OTC reading glasses are all they need to see better when looking at close-up materials.
Choosing the right lens type magnification is the key to making cheap reading glasses work for you.
It helps to try a few different magnification strengths before making your purchase. Also, remember that the magnification you need might increase as you age.
Alternatives to Reading Glasses
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to wear reading glasses, there are other options available.
Sometimes, people undergo LASIK or PRK surgery to improve their vision. This is more common for people who have non-age-related vision issues. Laser refractive surgery procedures correct nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
Refractive Lens Exchange
Another alternative to reading glasses is refractive lens exchange. This procedure removes the eye’s natural lens and replaces it with an intraocular lens implant. The steps are essentially the same as cataract surgery.
Monovision LASIK corrects someone’s dominant eye for distance vision and their non-dominant eye for near vision.
In response to these corrections, the brain automatically changes the needed vision. Monovision allows for a change in the focus range without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Reading glasses help improve up-close vision when you're straining to read. Your eye doctor can perform an eye exam to determine whether you need reading glasses.
You can buy reading glasses online without a prescription. However, it’s best to see a professional so they can check your eye health and give you an accurate prescription.
Aside from reading glasses, laser surgery, refractive lens exchange, and monovision can also improve your vision.
In this article
Best Places to Buy Glasses
Warby Parker has stylish, high-quality frames at affordable prices.
Liingo Eyewear is another great option to buy glasses online.
Best on a Budget
EyeBuyDirect has a wide variety of budget frames starting at $6.
Best Places to Buy Contacts
1-800 Contacts is our #1 recommendation to buy contacts online.
GlassesUSA has a huge selection of contacts, glasses, & sunglasses.