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Best Reading Glasses

Updated May 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 144 Models Considered
  • 11 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 104 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best reading glasses

    Last Updated May 2018

    As we age, it’s normal for our vision to get a little blurry when reading fine print. If you’ve noticed that you have to move the menu farther and farther away from your face to see clearly when you’re eating out, it may benefit you to own a pair of reading glasses. Because reading glasses don’t require a prescription, you have a wide variety of options to choose from. To make sure they work as well as they should, however, it’s important to choose the right pair. Which power, frame material, lens material, and other features would be right for you? A lot of this depends on your eyesight issues and personal style.

    At BestReviews, we can help you wade through the scores of reading glasses available. To keep our point of view unbiased, we did not accept free reading glasses or other products from manufacturers as we compiled this review. Instead, we combed the market and gathered information from product owners.

    If you’re ready to buy a pair of reading glasses, please visit the matrix above to see what we’re recommending. If you’d like to learn more about reading glasses before choosing a pair, read on for more information.

    Approximately 50 million Americans use reading glasses to read more comfortably.

    Who needs reading glasses?

    An appointment with an optometrist is the best way to determine whether reading glasses would help you you. That said, you can usually tell on your own if reading glasses are not necessary.

    Most people realize they need reading glasses when they start needing to hold their reading materials farther from their face in order to see clearly. This typically starts around the age of 40 because our eyes are no longer as mobile as they once were, so it’s harder to focus on close-up objects.

    Ready-made vs. customized reading glasses

    Ready-made glasses are a one-size-fits-all style that you can buy from a variety of retailers, both in-store and online. They’re usually fairly inexpensive and come in a wide range of styles and colors.

    Customized reading glasses may be necessary if you have a different prescription for each eye. An optician can create a pair of reading glasses for you with two different lens strengths, but it’s not something you’re likely to find available over the counter.

    CAUTION

    In addition to blurry vision, experiencing headaches and eye strain when you read or do other up-close activities like needlepoint can be a sign that you need reading glasses.

    Types of reading glass lenses

    Single-vision lenses

    If you only need correction for a single field of vision, single-vision lenses are the way to go. The same optical focal point is used for the entire lens. Reading glass lenses usually correct distance vision, but they can also be used to help you see better at an “intermediate” distance (such as the distance between your eyes and your computer screen) and up close. You can find lots of ready-made reading glasses over the counter, no prescription required.

    Bifocal lenses

    Bifocal lenses usually have an optical focal point for reading on the bottom portion of the lens and an optical focal point for distance vision on the top part of the lens. It’s not common to find bifocal reading glasses over-the-counter. You’ll likely need a prescription if your vision requires bifocal help.

    Trifocal lenses

    Trifocal lenses usually have three different optical focal points: one for distance, one for intermediate distance, and one for near vision. Like bifocals, this type of lens is available primarily through a prescription.

    Progressive lenses

    Progressive lenses transition from distance-vision to close-up vision without any clear line dividing the sections on the lens. They can be very effective for correcting intermediate vision, but they must be custom-made. You cannot purchase over-the-counter progressive lenses.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Presbyopia is an eye condition that hardens the eyes’ lenses so they no longer change shape to focus on near objects. It typically starts in your early to mid-40s.

    Reading glasses strength

    The strength of the lenses in a pair of reading glasses is measured in diopters and usually increases by 0.25 diopters for each different strength.

    Strengths vary from +1.00 all the way up to +6.00. The poorer your vision is when reading, the stronger your reading glasses need to be.

    If you’re not going through an eye doctor or optometrist to get your reading glasses, you’ll need another way to determine which lens strength is appropriate for you.

    A variety of strength tests are available online. These tests feature the same sentence written over and over in different sizes, with each size corresponding to a different reading glass strength.

    In most cases, you’ll need to print the test out and hold it 12 to 14 inches from your face. Read the sentences starting at the top. Work your way to the bottom until you reach a line that you cannot read clearly. Look beside the sentence that you stop at, and choose reading glasses that correspond to that strength.

    EXPERT TIP

    People in their 40s typically need reading glasses with a strength of +1.00 to +1.25. With each decade that you age, you’ll likely need to go up +0.5 in lens strength.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Frame material

    Reading glasses typically feature either plastic or metal frames.

    Plastic reading glasses frames are:

    • Available in a wide variety of colors and styles

    • Usually the most inexpensive choice

    • Not as durable as metal frames
       

    Metal reading glasses frames are:

    • Available in a wide variety of styles

    • Usually the most expensive option

    • Able to withstand some wear and tear

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Some reading glasses feature adjustable nose silicone nose pads that keep the glasses from slipping when you’re looking down to read.

    Lens material

    You’ll find reading glasses with lenses made of several different materials.

    • Reading glasses with polycarbonate lenses are resistant to breaking and have a comfortable, lightweight feel. However, they can sometimes distort images.

    • Reading glasses with Trivex lenses are also lightweight and resistant to breakage, but they aren’t as likely to distort images as polycarbonate lenses are.

    • Reading glasses with high-index plastic lenses are ideal if you require a higher strength because they’re thinner and not as heavy, thus making them feel more comfortable on the face.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    While most people don’t need reading glasses until they are between the ages of 40 and 50, some individuals begin to experience the symptoms of blurry up-close vision as young as 25.

    Frame style and color

    Just like prescription glasses, reading glasses are available in a wide variety of frame styles and colors.

    Choosing the right frame is really a matter of personal preference, though it often helps to consider your face shape and width when picking out frames.

    • If you have an oval face, look for wide, bold frames that suit your style.

    • If you have a round face, look for angular frames or a small, square frame style.

    • If you have a heart-shaped face, look for frames that are wide and bottom-heavy.

    • If you have a square face, look for round, wide frames or a semi-rimless style.
       

    When it comes to frame color, you can’t go wrong with any shade that you enjoy. Neutral shades like black or brown typically offer the most subtle, reserved look, while bold shades like pink or red can add a fun pop of color to your look. You can even find frames that feature patterns, such as animal prints or stripes.

    EXPERT TIP

    You may need two different strengths of reading glasses: one for reading up close and one for mid-distances, such as a computer screen.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Other features to consider

    Anti-scratch coating

    Some reading glasses feature an anti-scratch coating on the lenses. Because most plastic lenses can scratch easily, it’s a good idea to pay a little extra for this coating.

    Anti-reflective coating

    If you plan to wear your reading glasses outdoors regularly, look for a pair with an anti-reflective coating. The coating helps reduce glare, which can make it difficult to see clearly.

    Case

    Because reading glasses aren’t worn all the time, it’s important to have a protective case in which to store them. Some reading glasses come with a convenient carrying case so you don’t have to buy one separately.

    Number of pairs

    You may decide to purchase several pairs of reading glasses. That way, you can keep one at home, one at the office, and one in your car. Some over-the-counter reading glasses are sold in multipacks for this reason. Often, it’s more cost-effective to buy a multipack than it is to purchase several pairs individually.

    You can find multipacks that include anywhere from two to six pairs of reading glasses. While the strength is the same for all the pairs in a pack, some sets offer frames in a variety of colors and/or patterns.

    EXPERT TIP

    To test out a new pair of reading glasses, hold your reading material a comfortable distance from your face. If you have to move the material farther way to read the text clearly, you need a more powerful pair.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Reading glasses prices

    Reading glasses vary in price based on frame material, the number of pairs included with purchase, and other features. Expect to pay between $5 and $50 for reading glasses.

    • Inexpensive

    For a single pair of reading glasses with lightweight plastic frames, you’ll usually pay between $5 and $10. For a multipack of reading glasses (three to six pairs) with lightweight plastic frames, you’ll usually pay between $12 and $18.

    • Mid-range

    For a single pair of reading glasses with sturdy plastic or lightweight metal frames, you’ll usually pay between $15 and $20. For a multipack of reading glasses (two to four pairs) with sturdy plastic or lightweight metal frames, you’ll usually pay between $20 and $30.

    • Expensive

    For a single pair of reading glasses with surgical-grade plastic or durable metal frames and lenses with specialty treatments, you’ll usually pay between $30 and $40. For a multipack of two to four pairs of reading glasses with surgical-grade plastic or durable metal frames and lenses with specialty treatments, you’ll usually pay between $40 and $50.

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    If you experience sudden changes in your vision, including blurred vision, see an eye doctor immediately.

    Tips

    • If you’re over 40 and experiencing blurry vision when reading, you likely need reading glasses. However, you should always consult with an eye doctor first; don’t just diagnose yourself. The reason: blurry vision can be symptomatic of other serious eye issues.

    • When you’re not wearing your reading glasses, store them in a protective case to prevent scratches.

    • Avoid taking off or putting on your reading glasses with one hand. This action can stress the hinges and cause them to loosen.

    • Never place your reading glasses lens-side down on a table or other surface. They’re more likely to get scratched in this position.

    For convenience, it helps to have at least two pairs of reading glasses – one for the house and one for your car or purse.

    FAQ

    Q. Is a prescription needed to purchase reading glasses?

    A. Unlike other eyeglasses, reading glasses usually don’t require a prescription. They’re rated based on their magnification capabilities, such as +1.00 or +2.00, and it is up to you and/or your eye specialist to determine which lens strength you need.

    Due to other eyesight issues, some individuals do need prescription reading glasses. In this case, a visit with an eye doctor is definitely required.

    Q. Can you wear reading glasses all day?

    A. Reading glasses actually magnify the images that you’re looking at. If you use them to look at objects that are far away, you could strain your eyes, and the images may be out of focus. For this reason, it’s best to only wear reading glasses when you really need them.

    Q. Can you use reading glasses while wearing contact lenses?

    A. You can pair reading glasses with contact lenses if necessary. The contacts help with distance vision, and the reading glasses help with near vision when you’re reading text.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor