Reading vs. Prescription Glasses: What's the Difference?

Reading vs. Prescription Glasses: What's the Difference?

Most of us love saving money. We’re always looking for a way to get what we need at a lower cost, even if that means driving ten miles out of town to save .02 per gallon on gas. 

Your own personal desire to cut costs (and save time) might have led you to wonder about those racks of drugstore reading glasses you’ve seen. 

You know your eyesight is weaker, but do you really need to commit to an hour-long optometrist appointment and spend a few hundred bucks to get prescription corrective lenses? Would the drugstore glasses work just as well?

The team at Stoggles is here to help. We love saving money, but we also love finding the best solution for the problem. We’ll cover the differences between reading and prescription glasses, tell you who needs which, and give you some recs for grabbing both styles of glasses (along with a ton of other important features) for a price that is very budget friendly

When Did Text Get So Small?

Times New Roman 12 point seems a whole lot smaller than it used to, and if you’re between the ages of 35-45, that’s normal. 

Your ability to see close-up naturally declines with age — ask any optometrist what they know to be certainties in life, and they’ll likely reply with death, taxes, and presbyopia (or far-sightedness). 

Even if you’ve never had to wear corrective lenses before, presbyopia can send you straight to the eye doctor, complaining that you can’t see your book or your smartphone unless you hold it further away from your face. 

Presbyopia is caused by the natural loss of elasticity in the lens of your eye. 

What Are Reading Glasses?

Reading glasses are the solution for people dealing with mild presbyopia. They’re available everywhere (even at that out-of-town gas station). Reading glasses aren’t designed to correct vision problems, and they are not custom-fitted prescriptions.

Reading glasses are essentially like magnifying glasses that make it easier for you to see close-up. They come in different diopters that increase by quarter increments, beginning at +1.00 all the way through +3.25. 

Although an optometrist or optician can help you find the right reading glass diopter, you don’t need to see a doctor or have a prescription to use them. Simply taking your book or smartphone to the store and trying on a few pairs is usually sufficient for helping you decide which diopter you need.

What Are the Benefits of Reading Glasses?

Arguably one of the biggest benefits of reading glasses is that they keep you from wearing prescription lenses for at least a little longer if you haven’t already needed them to correct other vision errors. 

Other advantages of reading glasses include:

  • Not needing to meet with your eye doctor
  • Ability to get them without a prescription
  • They’re usually inexpensive
  • You won’t need to wear them continuously

Most people who choose reading glasses find themselves owning about 10 pairs, stashed everywhere — like their handbags., nightstands, side tables, desk drawers, and the bathroom and kitchen. 

Are There Disadvantages to Using Reading Glasses?

It’s an old myth that wearing eyeglasses of any kind (including reading glasses) will cause your eyesight to weaken or worsen. If you wear a particular diopter for a few years and notice you need a stronger prescription, it’s probably because you are experiencing age-related vision changes. 

However, there can be some disadvantages to using reading glasses:

  • Using reading glasses may not be enough to correct existing vision problems if you have them.
  • Most reading glasses are mass-produced and seriously lacking in durability and quality.
  • Wearing reading glasses may convince you that you don’t need a yearly eye exam.

Consider reading glasses like the training wheels before you ride your bike. If you’ve never worn glasses before, they’re a nice little segue into the eyewear scene. They’re also standard issue attire for the 35+ crowd. 

If, however, reading glasses aren’t working for you anymore, or if they never worked in the first place, you probably need prescription lenses. 

What Are Prescription Glasses?

Sometimes, readers fix all your vision problems. Other times they might help — or not work at all. If they don’t work for you, you’ve likely got a refractive error other than presbyopia. 

Refractive errors are abnormalities in the eye that make it hard for you to see clearly. Presbyopia is a refractive error, but it’s only one of them. More common refractive errors include:

  • Myopia (nearsightedness). This type of refractive error makes it hard for you to see objects in the distance.
  • Hyperopia (farsightedness). This error makes objects close up look blurry. This sounds a lot like presbyopia, but the difference is that presbyopia is age-related. Hyperopia can happen to anyone at any age.
  • Astigmatism. If you have astigmatism, objects close up and far away look blurry and/or distorted. 

These types of errors can’t be corrected with reading glasses. They need specific lenses based on a doctor’s examination of your eyes. 

What Are the Benefits of Prescription Glasses?

One of the biggest benefits of wearing prescription glasses is that they are fully customized to your eyes. That means (unlike reading glasses) each lens has specific measurements and adjustments made for that particular eye. 

If you have stronger vision in one eye than the other, your prescription eyeglasses correct them both back to 20/20. 

Other reasons why prescription glasses are a good option include:

  • Full vision correction as close to 20/20 as possible without surgery.
  • Continued eye care from your provider, who can look for any changes in your vision that may require a new prescription or need attention.
  • Owning one or two pairs of higher quality glasses, as opposed to numerous pairs of reading glasses kept all over your home and office.
  • Ability to switch to contacts if you’d prefer them. 

Many people choose the prescription route simply because you’ll get better vision correction with prescription lenses than you will with reading glasses. 

Are There Disadvantages of Prescription Glasses?

Prescription glasses are a good option for vision correction, but there are a few things to consider before you purchase them: 

  • You’ll need a prescription from a licensed optometrist to get corrective lenses.
  • Prescription eyewear can be expensive. Shop around until you find what you want within your price range. 
  • Your vision will need to be tested each year to determine if it has changed and if you need new lenses. 

Whether you choose reading glasses or prescription glasses, one item on your eyewear checklist should always be a quality pair of protective eyewear. 

The Case for Safety

People who don’t work with chemicals, fluids, or machinery are often hard sells on protective eyewear, but consider this: half of all eye-related injuries happen right at home. 

Cleaning, yard work, home improvement, and even sitting in front of a screen can all pose a threat to your vision, and keeping your eyes protected is what Stoggles does best. 

How To Protect Your Eyes 

Even if you aren’t wielding a nail gun or a jackhammer, your eyes are still bombarded with hazards on the daily. External stressors like UV rays, blue light, and even allergens can cause eye sensitivity and damage. 

While you might not think that you’re at risk for splashes, spills, splatter, or flying debris, it only takes one accident to create damage that could rob you of your vision. It would be a real shame to show up at the office holiday party with an eye patch and a story about how your toilet bowl cleaner left you partially blinded. 

The Stoggles Solution

Team #NoEyePatch is here to help. All Stoggles are created with: 

  • Polycarbonate frames and lenses, which are naturally UV blocking
  • Side and top shields, to keep your eyes safe with 360º protection
  • Blue light blocking lenses
  • Anti-fog coating
  • ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification (so they don’t shatter on impact)

Unlike standard safety glasses, Stoggles eyewear is safe and stylish. We offer numerous frame shapes and colors that are designed to wear comfortably and stylishly while giving your eyes serious protection. 

Even better, we offer Stoggles in reading diopters and with your own custom prescription lenses. No matter what you need, we’ve got you covered, and we make it super seamless for you to purchase over on our site without the hassle of dealing with an optometrist or labs.

Stoggles for Life

Whether you decide to rely on readers or progress toward your prescription, Stoggles has the solution for stylish, safe, and affordable eyewear that you’ll actually enjoy wearing. Presbyopia may be certain, but Stoggles' style is unexpected. Keep everyone on their toes with unique looks (and fierce vision protection) from Stoggles. 


Presbyopia - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Refractive Errors | National Eye Institute

Eye Safety at Home: Preventing Eye Injuries | American Academy of Ophthalmology

Protecting your eyes from the sun’s UV light |

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