The Difference Between Readers and Reading Glasses

Around the age of 40, our eyes start to change and deteriorate. Many people who visit their ophthalmologist or optometrist around this age notice that they are left with either an entirely new prescription or all of a sudden need glasses or some sort. Some doctors only give a prescription for basic readers; while others prescribe two sets of prescriptions: one for distance correction and the other for reading correction. This might happen before the age of 40 but most Americans get a reading prescription just as they hit the over-the-hill age. After leaving the doctor’s office, many people become confused with their new prescriptions because they do not understand the difference between prescription reading glasses and basic readers. Let’s shed some light on the subject with some helpful information that may make your decision between the two much easier.

First things first, basic readers have the same sphere (SPH) in both eyes. This means the vision correction is the same in both eyes. If you’ve ever seen a pair of basic reading glasses at your local grocery or drug store, then you’ve probably noticed the little sticker on the lens or packaging that stays “+3.00” or “+1.50” – this means that your vision will be magnified with these readers by either 3 or 1.50 diopeters. The greatest part about basic readers is that you don’t need a prescription to buy them. If you’re just looking to magnify your vision a bit while reading the newspaper, menu, or your computer – these are a great option. If you have a prescription and you notice your sphere is not the same in both eyes, readers are probably not the best option for you.

If you already have a prescription for distance correction and your new prescription contains an ADD (additive lens), you now have a super prescription that can handle single vision lenses for distance or reading as well as multifocal lenses like bifocals or progressives. Your new prescription also dictates that you need prescription reading glasses. Your ADD may look like the basic reader magnification but when combined with your distance correcting prescription, it creates something more unique that basic readers can’t handle.

Additionally, your doctor may have thrown a prescription at you for glasses when you’ve never worn any kind of corrective eye wear before. Your sphere on this prescription may be different in your left eye when compared against your right and you may also have a prescription added in for astigmatism correction. If either of these are the case, buying a simple pair of readers at your local supermarket won’t suffice.

When all you need is a little extra magnification or you only need to wear the correction for a short time, cheap glasses with no prescription needed, like readers, are a good choice but don’t wear them for too long or it could wind up causing headaches or nausea. If you’re planning on reading a good book, sitting down with a newspaper, or checking your favorite sites on the Internet – invest in a good pair of prescription reading glasses with a recent eyeglasses prescription given to you by your eye doctor.