What Are Reading Glasses and Do You Need Them?

What Are Reading Glasses and Do You Need Them?

Wherever you find yourself reading this, be it the breakroom, your desk, or the bathroom (which, by the way, cannot be used for your home office deduction on your taxes), get ready. We’re about to deep dive into the world of cheaters, but not in the way you might think. 

Unlike the popular TV show that ran for 22 seasons, the cheaters we aim to uncover are actually faithful, reliable, and used primarily by the 40+ crowd. We’re talking about reading glasses, and we’re here to uncover all their not-so-dirty little secrets, like how they work and if you need them. 

Come along with the eye care experts at Stoggles while we talk vision correction, drug store eyewear, and whether or not you need to invest in a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses or opt for prescription lenses. 

How Does Vision Correction Work?

First things first, let’s talk about how vision correction works. Having an issue with your vision usually means you have something called a refractive error. Refractive errors are common and cause light collected by the cornea to focus incorrectly onto the retina.

The retina is where your vision happens. So if you have a refractive error that causes light to be refracted above, below, or behind the cornea, you’re going to have a hard time seeing clearly. 

There are four common types of refractive errors: myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia.


This is the most common type of refractive error and causes images in the distance to appear blurry. Myopia is also referred to as nearsightedness, meaning the person can see text and materials that are close up but has trouble seeing objects further away. 


If you have hyperopia, you are farsighted. This means you can see objects in the distance clearly, but have trouble seeing objects close up. This is due to an issue with the shape and length of the eye and is not age-related, which is an important differentiation you’ll want to remember when we discuss presbyopia.


Someone with astigmatism has trouble seeing objects at all distances. The shape of the cornea is irregular, and specialized lenses are needed to correct vision. Astigmatism makes it especially difficult to see at night because it can cause halos or starbursts to appear around oncoming headlights or street lamps. 


Like hyperopia, presbyopia makes it hard for someone to see objects or text that is close up. Unlike hyperopia, the root cause of the refractive error isn’t due to a physical anomaly in the eye but simply due to age. 

Presbyopia happens to everyone. As a person ages, the lens of the eye loses its ability to properly focus light onto the retina, resulting in age-related vision loss. Most people will get presbyopia by the time they’re 45, but you can experience symptoms much earlier. 

The first time you sit down to scroll your phone and notice you need to hold it further away from your face, you’re probably already dealing with it. 

How Does Vision Correction Work?

Vision correction happens via prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses, surgical intervention, or a trip to your local drugstore for a pair of non-prescription reading glasses — but there’s a caveat with that last option because reading glasses don’t actually correct your vision. We’ll explain. 

Prescription Eyewear

A trip to your optometrist or ophthalmologist can give you a comprehensive eye exam and tell you exactly what kind of refractive error you are experiencing. They’ll then write you a prescription for eyewear that corrects your vision issue (be it farsightedness, nearsightedness, astigmatism, or a combination of several issues). 

Prescription lenses and contact lenses work by correcting the way light hits the retina. It adjusts the way the cornea collects light and refracts it directly onto the retina, instead of below, beside, or behind it. 

If you have more than one error, you may need progressive lenses. These lenses replace bifocal lenses or trifocal lenses by offering multivision correction in a single lens with no visible lines. 

Surgical Intervention

There are several different types of surgeries available for correcting refractive errors. The most common type of surgery is LASIK, which allows a surgeon to reshape the cornea so that it refracts light properly. 

Other options include corneal lens implants and refractive lens exchanges. Your eye doctor is the best person to help you decide which surgical intervention can help improve your vision best. 

Non-Prescription Reading Glasses

If you’re like most red-blooded Americans, the moment you realize your vision is on the decline (and you’re middle-aged), you’re likely going to head to your nearest corner drug store and pick up a pair of cheap reading glasses. 

Reading glasses don’t correct your vision. Instead, they simply magnify the objects close up to improve your near vision. In fact, reading glasses work just like a magnifying glass, with thin edges and a thicker middle to help small print and close work appear larger, making it easier for you to read it. 

Reading glasses, then, are a separate type of eyewear that really doesn’t help solve any vision problems, but they do give you the ability to avoid prescription glasses a little while longer (if that’s your goal) and still enjoy close vision comfortably.

Who Should Use Reading Glasses?

If you haven’t had a vision exam in over a year, schedule one. If you’re experiencing vision changes, that’s a reason to schedule an exam, too. An eye doctor can diagnose your specific vision issues and determine the best way to help you see more clearly.

If you have myopia, for instance, but assume your vision is due to age-related vision decline, you’d definitely have clearer vision with a prescription. Vision exams can also check for other eye-related problems, too, like macular degeneration, detached corneas, and glaucoma.

If, however, you really only need glasses to see reading material, a pair of reading glasses might be a good solution (for now). 

What Are the Benefits of Reading Glasses?

There are pros and cons for everything, including opting for a pair of readers in lieu of prescription eyewear. 

  • They’re cheap. You can purchase reading glasses at a dollar store. A basic pair generally ranges anywhere from $1-$20 depending on where you shop. High-quality reading glasses, however, can sometimes cost $50-$125, depending on the brand and power of magnification. That said though, compared to the pricey prescription lenses your optician offers, reading glasses look like a win. 
  • They’re effective. Presbyopia requires magnification, and that’s what reading glasses do. Once you put a pair on, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them. 
  • You can get a specific strength of reading glasses. Diopters measure the magnifying power of your reading glasses in increments. Reading glasses are usually available from +1.00 and increase in +0.25 increments all the way through +3.25. 

Readers make it easy for you to “cheat” the prescription eyewear system by giving you the ability to see material close up without using your yearly eye insurance benefit. But that kind of begs the question…why not use that benefit?

What Are the Drawbacks of Using Reading Glasses?

Not even the right reading glasses can fix a refractive area like myopia or astigmatism, and if you don’t know you could be seeing more clearly, you could be cheating yourself. Magnification power helps you see close-up items more clearly, but it does nothing for any other vision issues. 

  • Readers can’t correct your vision. Sure, you aren’t experiencing as much eye strain now that you use reading glasses, but what if you could see more clearly and do away with eye strain altogether? You won’t know unless you go (to the eye doctor).
  • Readers can’t provide multivision corrections. Because readers only magnify what’s in front of you, they aren’t designed to offer vision correction in any distance other than close up. That’s why you can’t wear reading glasses comfortably unless you’re looking at objects right in front of you. 

Multivision lenses correct vision at multiple distances (near, far, and intermediate) in one single lens so that you don’t have to remove your glasses to see clearly at a different distance. The blended reader also exists — and it’s the progressive version of reader lenses, so it has two split zones that gradually blend into each other for a seamless experience.

  • They’re not incredibly durable. Just like any pair of eyewear, the average pair of reading glasses from your corner store isn’t known for their durability, and that’s likely due to the fact that they’re essentially a bandage-style fix for vision correction. 

If you want superior vision correction and more durability, you should probably consider prescription eyewear. 

Another thing to consider? Protective safety eyewear. 

Why Is Safety Eyewear Important?

We’ve given a lot of attention to the retina, because that’s where your ability to see happens. Light reflected onto the retina gets transmitted via the optic nerve to the brain, where it is interpreted into the images you see. 

Retinal cells are limited, and they don’t regenerate. That means when they are damaged, a portion of your vision is damaged, too. Eye-related injuries are common, and experts agree that 99% of them can be prevented simply by wearing appropriate protective eyewear. 

When would you need it? More often than you think. 

When Should You Wear Safety Eyewear?

Safety eyewear is essential for any task that could injure your eye, like:

  • Home improvement
  • Yard work
  • Cleaning with chemicals
  • Repair work
  • Sports and recreation activities 
  • Exposure to UV rays or blue light

Of course, if your job involves hazardous materials or activities, you’ll need safety eyewear there, too. But what if you need safety eyewear and vision correction? Don’t worry. Stoggles has the solution. 

Stoggles: Safety, Style, Cheaters, and More

Stoggles were designed to give you the safety features you need with the style you crave. Now, we have more options available than ever before. We offer our Stoggles protective eyewear with your custom vision prescription (even progressive lenses) and in readers that allow for up-close work magnification. 

Every pair of Stoggles comes with important safety features, like:

  • ANSI Z87.1-2020 certification. Stoggles won’t shatter or break. Each pair has been tested to meet ANSI Z87.1-2020 high impact resistance standards. 
  • Anti-fog lenses. Fogging lenses? Not with Stoggles. We dip coat the entire lens of every pair of Stoggles with anti-fogging compound during the time of manufacture to ensure they stay fog-free.
  • UV blocking. Our Stoggles are made from lightweight, durable polycarbonate material, which is naturally UV-blocking. 
  • Blue light filtering. The next time you’re sitting in front of your computer screen, pop on your Stoggles. Every pair filters out intrusive blue light from your computer, LED television, smartphone, and tablet. 
  • Side and top shields. All-around protection comes in the form of low-profile side and top shields to ensure Stoggles wearers never have to worry about something sneaking into the sides or top of their eyewear. 

Stoggles give you the protection you want, and even help you see more clearly. With all the safety features, we’d hardly call a pair of Stoggles readers “cheating.”

Read All About It

Should you get readers? Maybe. But you should definitely get an eye exam first. Once you know what is causing your vision issues, you can then make a decision about the right eyewear. While you’re shopping, remember that safety eyewear, like Stoggles, is important for everyone in every profession. 


Is Your Bathroom Your Home Office? | Forbes

Refractive Errors | National Eye Institute

What Is Astigmatism? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment - American Academy of Ophthalmology

Presbyopia | National Eye Institute

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