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Are Reading Glasses Bad for Your Eyes?

Are Reading Glasses Bad for Your Eyes?

Are you concerned that non-prescription reading glasses might harm your eyes?

As an optometrist, I spend the better part of the day prescribing eyeglasses for different reasons. The most common reason is to help my patients see better up-close so that their books, computers, tablets, and smartphones are crystal clear. And often, I get questions about whether or not off-the-rack reading glasses are safe to use.

Can Reading Glasses Hurt Your Eyes?

No, there is no clinical evidence that non-prescription reading glasses will harm your eyes or vision. If you’re over 40 years old with no distance prescription, astigmatism, or any underlying pathology then it’s a safe bet that nonprescription reading glasses will work for you.

However, if the magnification is under or over what you need, that will eventually cause other problems like eye strain, tearing, redness, and headaches.

How to Find the Right Magnification

If you currently have off-the-rack reading glasses, take the power you already have and go one power up and one down. For example, if you have a +2.00 then go +1.75 which is down, and +2.25 which is one up. You can go further than one power if you’re curious about the right power for you.

Additionally, you can download the eye chart to help find your perfect magnification power.

As always, it’s a good idea to visit your nearest eye doctor if you feel your reading glasses are not working and what you’re reading is still blurry. A routine eye exam may uncover some pathology not seen before. You can read more about eye exams here.

Choosing the Correct Lens Type

Reading glasses these days are not just used for functional purposes, but, also for fashion. So, it’s easy to think of the eyeglass frames and the magnification as the determining factors in choosing your eyewear.

But choosing the right lens is important, too…

The lenses you pick must be clear enough for you to see through. This is common sense, but it’s so easy to get caught up with how the frame looks that this obvious fact gets overlooked. Good lenses do not chip, bubble, or distort so look for that when you are purchasing your eyewear.

In addition, poor quality lenses cause reflections and distortions which may cause eye strain, tearing, and headaches. It would be a shame if your frames looked great but you couldn’t see well out of the eyeglasses because the lenses were not of equal quality.

So, spend a little extra and get anti-reflective lenses to reduce the glare and distortions, or purchase lenses that are slightly tinted. Both counteract the effects of glare and make your eyes more comfortable especially when looking at computer/laptop screens, tablets, and smartphones.

Putting it All Together

I know this is a lot to think about and it will take some effort, but it’s well worth it. At the end of the day, non-prescription reading glasses are safe. Paired with the ideal lens type, it’s always best to ensure you are using a reader with the correct magnification for your vision needs. And lastly, if you’re reading glasses are not working for you, it’s time to visit your local eye doctor for a routine checkup.

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