Reading Glasses FAQ

Here at Foster Grant, we have a huge reading glasses collection. Because of this, we regularly get questions about reading glasses. Some people just want to know what they are, whilst others have more complicated questions. With this blog post, we’re going to try to answer a selection of the most common questions about reading glasses. If you have anything else to ask us about reading glasses, sunglasses, or about anything else that might be related, please feel free to get in touch.

What Are Reading Glasses?

Reading glasses are glasses with magnifying lenses that help people with presbyopia. Presbyopia is an eye condition regularly associated with old age where the eye’s lens loses elasticity and thus loses the ability to focus on objects that are close by.  As we said, presbyopia is regularly associated with old age, but it can happen to people of all ages, and there are some old people who are no affected.

Who Needs Reading Glasses?

The short answer is: anyone who needs corrective lenses to help them see close objects – i.e. anyone with presbyopia. However, as presbyopia occurs more often with older people, most of our reading glasses customers are 35+ years old. However, the condition can occur earlier for some people.

What’s the Difference Between OTC Reading Glasses and Prescription Glasses

The main difference between OTC (over the counter) reading glasses and prescription glasses is that OTC reading glasses are made with + dioptre lenses that magnify up-close objects and they are sold over the counter, without the need for a prescription from your optometrist. Prescription lenses are much more varied as they are made specifically to match the prescription you received from an optometrist and can have a combination of + and – lenses. Prescription glasses are usually more expensive than reading glasses because the lenses are made bespoke for each customer. OTC reading glasses aren’t as expensive and they are therefore often better to take away on holidays with you, or to leave in different rooms if you’re the kind of person to forget to carry them around with you. Another great advantage to OTC reading glasses’ lower cost is that you can try out a different style for a while without spending a small fortune for the privilege.

When Should You Buy OTC Reading Glasses?

This is perhaps the most comment question, but the answer isn’t as definite as some of the other answers in this FAQ. You should buy reading glasses when you need a little extra magnification when you’re reading something up close. This condition is called presbyopia and it affects the majority of people eventually – although most people are between 35-45 when they start to require reading glasses. The best way to know whether or not you need reading glasses is to go the optometrist. But there are a few tell-tale signs that can help you spot presbyopia:

  • If you have a lot of headaches then it may be a sign that you’re having to focus too much when you’re reading. Or the headaches may be a sign of something else altogether.
  • If you have to hold a book or magazine at arm’s length in order to see it clearly. In fact, sometimes this can be so subtle that the person doesn’t realise they’re holding their reading material further away. An achy shoulder may be a sign that you’re doing this and could do with a new pair of reading glasses.
  • If you regularly get sleepy when you’re working at a computer or reading a book. This is obviously a big problem if you work at a computer. Computer screens often require our eyes to focus on very small pieces of text that is especially difficult if your eyes suffer from presbyopia.
  • If you usually need brighter light in order to read comfortably, then it’s a good sign that you may need reading glasses. However, as this comes on very slowly, it may be difficult to spot.

Which Reading Glasses do I Need?

You need reading glasses that are as close as possible to the prescription you received from the optometrist. On our website, you can filter through our range of reading glasses according to dioptre, which is the optical power of a curved lens. This number coheres with your prescription. Here at Foster Grant, you can choose from anything between +1.00 and +3.25. There is a huge difference between +1 and +3.25, so we’re confident that we can offer the right lens dioptre for you. If you’re not sure which type of reading glasses are right for you, you can experiment. If you find a pair that doesn’t work, you should have no issues returning them as our returns policy is very flexible.

What Reading Glasses Should I use with a Computer?

You will probably use the same reading glasses for a computer that you use when reading a book. However, the distance from a computer screen and the distance from a book may be little different. It’s much more likely that a computer screen will be further away from your face than your book-reading position, so you may require slightly stronger lenses or when you’re working at a computer. However, you can resolve this problem a different way by zooming in your screen a little.

When Should You Change Reading Glasses?

It is generally advised that people have their eyes tested once every two years. Not only does this update your prescription, it also helps identify other problems, such as glaucoma, before they get any worse. If your prescription changes then your reading glasses should change as well. Of course, reading glasses aren’t usually exact matches the way prescription glasses are, but it is reasonably easy to buy a new pair – especially if you’re getting a good deal online.


Ultimately, OTC reading glasses are a cheaper easier option than prescription glasses for anyone who requires corrective lenses to help them see things up close. For many people, they are the right option and we hope this brief FAQ has helped a few readers understand reading glasses a little better.


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