Guide to Reading Glasses


If you’ve found your way to this article, then chances are you suspect you might require reading glasses. The signs are clear (especially if your vision isn’t!). You may be wondering whether you need to get reading glasses just yet, or if you can hold out a while. If so, check out our Do I Need Reading Glasses resource. A lot of people put off buying reading glasses because they don’t want to be reliant on them or because they think wearing glasses will age them a little. But avoiding wearing reading glasses can cause other problems down the line. As Foster Grant are experts in all-things reading glasses, we thought we’d help outline the potential problems of not wearing reading glasses and give advice to anyone who thinks they might need them.

What happens if you need glasses and don’t wear them?

If your eyes need corrective lenses, then not wearing them causes eyestrain. This, in turn, causes headaches. On top of this, it’s also just very unpleasant to hold everything at arm’s length and squint your eyes every time you want to want to read. Also, when some people avoid wearing corrective lenses their eyes can develop other problems, such as:


This is also known as ‘lazy eye’ and it usually occurs in early childhood, but it can sometimes happen later. Amblyopia is a vision disorder where one eye does cannot see clear, sharp images.


This is also regularly (and erroneously) known as ‘crossed eyes’ and it is a condition where a person’s eyes do not align properly, pointing in different directions. This is because both eyes fail to work together in unison. There are four different kinds of strabismus: i) Esotropia, where the eyes cross inwards (this is the condition that is often referred to as ‘crossed eyes’; ii) exotropia, where the eyes point out to the sides; iii) Hypotropia, where the eyes point downward; and iv) Hypertropia, where the eyes point upwards.


Macular degeneration and old age

Have you ever noticed how most older people always have a pair of reading glasses to hand? This is because there are several different vision problems that people develop as they get older. One of these problems is called macular degeneration.

Macular degeneration is a very gradual breaking down of a person’s macula (the part of the eye’s retina responsible for our forward vision). This degradation is just part of getting older, but it is also exacerbated by the UV rays in sunlight.


Long-sightedness: hyperopia and presbyopia

However, the main reason anyone – old or young – needs reading glasses is because their eyes have gradually developed hyperopia or presbyopia. Hyperopia is where the eyeball is slightly too short causing the light that reaches the retina at the back of the eye to, in effect, overshoot its mark. Presbyopia, which affects older people, is the natural hardening of your eye’s lens over time, which gradually causes the light refracting through it to overshoot its mark – much like with hyperopia. Both of these conditions cause long-sightedness and the journey the light takes through your eye is illustrated below:

This means that anything you try to see up close is blurry, as the light reflecting off it it’s hitting your retina in the wrong place. We wear reading glasses or contact lenses to correct the angle of the light, bending it inwards a little so that it hits the correct part of our retinas to produce clear vision. Working out your optical prescription essentially helps optometrists work out what corrective lenses to use to direct light to the right part of your retina. The right lens will focus light at the right angle.


Which reading glasses should you get?

The answer to this question is very subjective, as the comfort and style varies from person to person. As you’ll be wearing your glasses when reading or at the computer – two activities we usually do for long periods of time. The best advice is to focus on glasses that are the right fit for your face, as these will usually feel more comfortable and look better on you. If you’re buying reading glasses in store, try on several until you get the right fit. If you’re buying your glasses online (always significantly cheaper), you may like to make note of which glasses fit you best. There are two two-digit numbers on the inside of one of the arms that tell you the width of the bridge and the rims in milometers. If you have this information, you can find a similarly proportioned pair of reading glasses for a fraction of the price. Take a look through our large collection of reading glasses to find the perfect style and size for you.



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