Like it or not, as we age, our vision tends to get worse, and you may eventually find yourself needing a pair of reading glasses. This blog will look at the reasons behind this phenomenon, how to know when it is time to consider getting a pair of readers, and how to determine which strength and style of reader is right for you. Information in this blog came from American Academy of Ophthalmology, Your Sight Matters, The Cleveland Clinic, and product suggestions from the ILA website.
Presbyopia, the Reason You May Need Reading Glasses
Presbyopia is when your eyes gradually lose the ability to see things clearly up close. It is a normal part of aging. In fact, the term “presbyopia” comes from a Greek word which means “old eye.” You may start to notice presbyopia shortly after age 40. You will probably find that you hold reading materials farther away in order to see them clearly.
Your clear lens sits inside the eye behind your colored iris. It changes shape to focus light onto the retina so you can see. When you are young, the lens is soft and flexible, easily changing shape. This lets you focus on objects both close-up and far away. After age 40, the lens becomes more rigid. It cannot change shape as easily. This makes it harder to read, thread a needle, or do other close-up tasks.
There is no way to stop or reverse the normal aging process that causes presbyopia. However, presbyopia can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. People who have trouble seeing both near and far may benefit from progressive lenses. In the future, presbyopia be treated with eye drops. If you do not correct presbyopia, you may be bothered by headaches and eye strain.
How to Know When You are Ready for Reading Glasses
OK now you know what could cause the need to have reading glasses but when is the right time to consider getting them? If any of these 5 reasons sound all too familiar it may be time to consider getting reading glasses, or at the very least make an appointment with an eye doctor to be sure.
- You are over the age of 40. Everyone’s eyesight changes at a different rate, but most people develop presbyopia in their 40s. Presbyopia is a condition in which the eyes strain to focus on nearby objects. This is different from farsightedness, or hyperopia, a condition in which you can see distant objects clearly, but objects nearby may be blurry. Hyperopia is usually present at birth, but presbyopia develops during the aging process.
- You need brighter light when reading. If you never seem to have enough light, regardless of the room type or the number of lamps you have turned on, it may be time to get reading glasses. According to a study, a 60-year-old requires three times as much light as a 20-year-old to do the same tasks.
- Your eyes get tired when reading or working at your computer. Do you find yourself dozing off at your computer, or do your eyelids get heavy when you read or do detailed work? If you are developing presbyopia, your eyes are working harder and straining more than they normally would. A temporary solution is to blink more often, take more breaks, or adjust your screen to reduce glare. Another option would be to get some reading glasses!
- You are getting more headaches. Consistently straining your eyes to read or focus on crafts could give you headaches. A headache right behind your eyes could be indicative of hyperopia. It is important to remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If your headaches persist, you should visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.
- You see halos. When your lens cannot focus light into your retina, it makes your vision appear blurry. You may see glowing circles around lightbulbs or car headlights. Glasses often solve this problem, but this may also be an early sign of cataracts.
Deciding on the Right Pair of Reading Glasses
Ok so maybe you are over 40 and at least one of the deciding factors sounds like you, now what? Trying to decide on the right pair of reading glasses may at first sound daunting but it does not have to. Here are three tips to keep in mind when searching for your first pair, or any pair, of reading glasses (also referred to as readers).
Tip 1: Find the right power. All reading glasses will have signs or stickers indicating their power. In most cases they will range from +1 to +5 diopter, in increments of +.25. Try the lowest power (+1) first.
Tip 2: Test-drive the glasses. If you have brought reading material with you, try reading it at a comfortable length. (Many drugstore eyeglass displays have an eye chart, too, to test the glasses.) If you have to hold the material too far out to be able to read it, increase the power. Keep testing the different powers until can read clearly at the distance that is most comfortable for you. If you are shopping online for reading glasses, you can also print off this printable reading eye chart to help you decide.
Tip 3: Go big the first time. While there are many styles and colors to choose from, you may want to start your reading glass journey with a bigger pair of specs. You may need larger glasses frames or lens to really get the sweet spot of where the prescription is. You can go down in size as you get used to wearing them.