Making The Transition To Reading Glasses

"Readers." Does that word summon up a gray-haired figure holding a grandchild and peering down to puzzle out small print in a picture book? It shouldn’t. Millions of patients, not all of them old, develop presbyopia – the gradual loss of ability to focus on nearby objects – and make a transition to reading glasses at some point.

Making the transition to reading glasses

When Is It Time for Reading Glasses?

The Mayo Clinic offers multiple clues to help you know whether the time has come. Indicators include:

  • A tendency to hold reading material farther away to make the letters clearer
  • Blurred vision at normal reading distance
  • Eyestrain or headaches after doing close-up work

These symptoms tend to get worse when you’re tired or sitting in dim lighting.

Don’t confuse these issues with rapid changes. You should seek immediate medical attention if you have a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes with or without pain, double vision, flashes of light, black spots or halos around lights. But if the problem develops slowly, your eye doctor can confirm presbyopia during an exam.

At that point, you have choices for reading glasses. Should you trot off to the drugstore for inexpensive magnifiers, or should you be more careful about what you buy? If you’ve never worn glasses, what do you need to consider before getting them? The American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests you think about three factors.

Three Factors To Consider

First, decide whether your eyes can tolerate a one-size-fits-all approach. If you have myopia, astigmatism or a different prescription in each eye, you’ll do better with glasses designed for you than magnifiers that increase all images equally. Think of it this way: which is best for you, a suit off the rack or a custom-tailored suit? An optician will measure the distance between your pupils, which should be aligned with the optical centers of your eyeglass lenses. A carefully measured eyeglass prescription along with the proper alignment of the optical centers of the glasses in reference to your pupils, is an important first step in determining what is right for you.

Second, choose which type of lenses suits you best. Single-vision lenses are best for reading. Bifocals correct for reading at the bottom and distance at the top. Whereas progressive lenses make a gradual transition between distance, intermediate and near without visible dividing lines. Your doctor and optician can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Third, select lenses and frames. Doctors today can render even strong prescriptions in lighter and slimmer lenses than they once did, making “coke-bottle glasses” mostly a thing of the past. Meanwhile, your optician can help you find the right frame for various lens-types, to fit your facial features, and meet visual needs.Frames can be metal, which is more durable, or plastic, which may be more comfortable. Certain lenses can be made impact-resistant and treated with anti-scratch material or anti-reflective coatings to cut down on glare. Photochromic lenses, also called transitional lenses, darken in sunlight to protect your eyes from UV rays.

How Horizon Eye Care Can Help

Your optician can steer you through what may seem like a bewildering array of options. Whether you end up with custom-designed specs or magnifiers off the shelf, your first step should be an optical exam. This will determine what you’ll need to read fine print easily again.

To learn more about eye exams in general, see the Eye Exams page on our website. To schedule a consultation at Horizon Eye Care, use our Patient Portal or call 704-365-0555 Monday – Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.