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How Do I Know If I Need Reading Glasses?

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A woman is squinting to see clearly on the screen while working on her computer.

Our physical health can change as we age, eyes included. The risk for certain eye diseases goes up as we get older, and vision changes are common. Presbyopia is a common age-related vision change that often begins in the mid-40s.

Your eye doctor can detect presbyopia during a comprehensive exam, or you may become aware of it beforehand when you start noticing some signs you may need reading glasses. These can include holding books or magazines closer than usual, blurry vision at your normal reading distance, and headaches or eye strain when doing up-close tasks.

Presbyopia isn’t difficult to deal with in most cases. Your optometrist can provide you with prescription reading glasses that account for your near vision problems and any other refractive errors you may have.

Signs It’s Time for Reading Glasses

You may start to notice vision changes when you’re having trouble seeing the menu at a restaurant, or perhaps you’re squinting while reading the paper in the morning. Either way, you’ll eventually notice signs that you may need reading glasses if your eye doctor hasn’t yet pointed it out.

The change is typically gradual, so you may only notice some of these symptoms before talking to your optometrist. But the signs may include:

  • Squinting to see clearly at a normal reading distance
  • Holding magazines or books closer than usual
  • Getting headaches or strained eyes when reading or performing activities that require close-up focus
  • Trouble with small print in low-light settings

Why Do You Need Reading Glasses?

Presbyopia can be an inconvenient part of aging. The condition typically becomes noticeable in your 40s and worsens until your mid-60s. The hardening of your eye’s lens is the primary cause of presbyopia.

Eventually, the circular muscles surrounding the lens can no longer bend it to focus on near objects. Age is the primary risk factor for developing presbyopia, but other medical conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases can also increase your risk.

If you’re concerned about needing prescription reading glasses earlier in life, an eye doctor is a great resource to discuss your risk factors with.

Reading Glasses and 20/20 Vision

Many people have heard the term 20/20 or 20/40 vision. 20/20 vision is understood as perfect vision for many people. And while 20/20 is typically the goal when the eye doctor prescribes a correction, it’s only a measurement of your distance vision. Even if a person has clear distance vision, they may need reading glasses to read or perform tasks up close.

A young man moves closely in front of his computer. Having difficulty reading the text on the screen.

Other Potential Causes

Presbyopia may be a common age-related reason for needing reading glasses, but it’s not the only possible reason you could have trouble seeing things near.


Hyperopia—also known as farsightedness—is similar to presbyopia in the way that things at a distance are clear, but things up close are blurry. Instead of the muscle not bending the lens properly, like in presbyopia, hyperopia is a refractive error.

Prescription glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery are all potential correction options for farsightedness.


Another refractive error that can cause blurry vision up close is astigmatism. An eye free from astigmatism is round, like a basketball. In comparison, an eye affected by astigmatism is shaped more like a football.

One significant difference between astigmatism and farsightedness or presbyopia is that it can cause blurry vision at a distance or up close.

Choosing the Right Reading Glasses

If you haven’t needed prescription glasses throughout your life, the options for reading glasses may seem overwhelming. Seeing an optometrist is the first step in finding the most reliable information.

For more complex vision needs, you may need a prescription to get the most accurate and clear vision. For example, it’s possible for one eye to have astigmatism while the other doesn’t. In this circumstance, only one eye needs correction.

A generic, mass-produced pair of reading glasses usually has the same magnification between both lenses, whereas a pair of prescription reading glasses will offer a customized level of magnification for your needs.

Lens Coatings

Another thing to consider when choosing reading glasses is what you’re using them for. For example, if you spend a lot of time using a computer, you may find a blue screen filtering or anti-glare coating on the lenses beneficial.

Find Your New Reading Glasses

Maybe you’re convinced you need reading glasses after reading this article, or maybe it has reminded you to book your next eye exam. Whatever the case, Total Vision Sports Arena has a great selection of stylish frames that can be fitted with customized lenses to meet your vision needs.

Call or visit our website to book your next appointment today.

Written by Total Vision

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