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What strength reading glasses do I need? (Video Transcript)

Hi, I’m Jennifer, Customer Care representative, here at

As you might expect, one of the most frequent questions we hear is, “I need reading glasses, but how do I know what power I need? ”

Let’s start with a little background.

Reading difficulty happens to the vast majority of us as we age, and usually becomes noticeable when we get to our 40’s. The condition is called presbyopia, which is caused by a naturally occurring loss of elasticity in the eye. This is why the print on menus, newspapers, and smartphones becomes difficult. Reading glasses compensate for the weaker eye muscles.

Do you recognize any of these indicators?

  • you find yourself squinting and holding your reading material farther away
  • you have a hard time reading in lower light conditions
  • you are around 40 years old and experience eye strain when reading
  • you recently began having trouble reading but your vision is still great at a distance
  • you traditionally wear contact lenses to correct distance vision but notice your up-close reading is becoming more difficult.

If any of those indicators feel familiar, you’re probably a candidate for reading glasses. I say “probably” because if you have any of the problems I just mentioned and experience difficulty or eye strain with objects farther away, like when driving, you might need a prescription solution and not a ready-made solution, which is what reading glasses are.

Okay, once you’ve determined you need reading glasses, the next question is, “What strength do I need? ” Those of us just beginning to notice the need for reading glasses will generally select something in the lower power ranges, like +1.00 to +1.50 range. For the curious, these numbers represent “diopters,” the unit optometrists use to measure the degree of correction (focusing power assistance) the eyes need.

At, our glasses come in magnification powers ranging from a low of +0.75 to +4.00, with increments of +0.25 along the way. The lower the number, the more moderate the correction.

For those individuals who require significantly different lens powers for each eye, also offers affordable Rx options with a doctor’s prescription. If you have a question about your prescription or power of reading glasses, please contact our Opticians by email, phone or live chat.

So, what power of reading glasses do I choose?

The best answer to this question is – have an eye doctor determine the strength you need. But, we know in between eye care visits, many will want to approximate what you need. And since you’ll probably search the internet and find all manner of advice, charts, and rules of thumb, (some good, some not so good), we’ll share what we think is the best way to proceed starting with The Eye chart Method.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Print out the PDF of the reading chart you see on the right of your screen: It’s located on our site under the Knowledge Center. It will look like this.
  2. Be sure to remove any corrective lenses or glasses.
  3. Hold the paper approximately 14 inches away from your face. (that’s about average for most reading)
  4. Read the lines from top to bottom.
  5. The first line you have difficulty reading without strain will have a suggested lens strength below it.

It is important to keep in mind that Reading test charts aren’t always precise. That’s why suggests pairing the Eye chart Method result with a selection of additional test powers to create a Power Straddle Assortment.

Here’s how it works:

  • First, select the frames you want, and the strength you are hoping will work best. It may be a power you targeted from the eye chart test, or from trying a pair that belong to a friend or spouse that you found worked well.
  • Next, order that strength AND two additional reading powers– in the identical frames. Order a pair one power level down in magnification and a pair one power level up. So, for example, if you think you need a +1.25, along with it, select then next lower power, a +1.00 and the next higher power, +1.50, as well. (Yes, you’ll be returning two of the three you receive.) Shipping both ways is always free on, so that makes it easy.
  • When you receive your glasses, experiment with the three powers you selected and see which works best for you under normal reading conditions. It often comes down to two powers that are hard to distinguish between. We find most people will select the weakest power of those two.
  • Finally, simply return the glasses in the strengths you don’t want within 30 days for a full refund, by printing a prepaid return label.

That’s it! Simple, right? You get to try out glasses to determine which reading strength works best you.

Finally, some advice for those of you who have been wearing reading glasses for a while, but your trusty glasses just aren’t working as well as they once did. Well that usually means you need to move up in power. This is normal. As the eye naturally loses more elasticity, it will need more of a correction to sharpen focus.

The first thing you should do is check the power of the glasses you currently have. If they are non-prescription ready-made reading glasses, you can often find the strength marked on the inside of one of the temple arms. It may be small, but it should be there.

Use this strength as a starting point, since you suspect that you need a stronger power than what you currently have. So, the only question is, “How much stronger?”

As I mentioned earlier, the best way to determine what you need is, of course, to have an eye doctor perform an eye exam. But, if you are fairly certain that you just need a slightly higher strength, ordering glasses +0.25 or +0.50 diopters stronger than what you have may do the trick. Of course, you can use the Straddle Power method I mentioned earlier. The free returns both ways make it super easy.

Okay. That wraps up our presentation. A lot covered here, but hopefully within it, you have found an answer or two. For any remaining questions please reach out to us by phone, email or live text. Or, consult your eye doctor.

Happy reading!

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