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The Difference Between Computer Glasses and Regular Reading Glasses

Although eye strain and blurred vision when working at the computer can be a sign that you need reading glasses, regular readers may not be sufficient for those who spend long hours sitting in front of a computer each day. Computer reading glasses differ from regular reading glasses in several important ways. Some people need both types of readers, while others find that they only need a bit of extra help while at the computer.  

Why Do I Need Readers at All?

Although some lucky people manage to live their entire lives without needing any form of glasses, this is extremely rare. Even if you have always had good vision, sometime after your 40th birthday, you are likely to develop trouble clearly seeing small print and other close-up tasks. This is usually due to the onset of presbyopia, or common age-related changes to the eyes.

If you are under 40 but work at a computer all day, you might develop a condition known as computer vision syndrome, or CVS. Red eyes that are dry or watery, blurry vision when looking at the screen, and headaches are all common symptoms of CVS that can mirror symptoms of presbyopia. Compounding the problem is the fact that people tend to try to compensate for visual issues by leaning forward, which puts you at increased risk for tension and pain in your neck, shoulders, and back.

Although both CVS and presbyopia are relatively minor conditions, it is worth having a thorough eye exam. This will rule out more serious issues and give you the opportunity to ask questions of a professional.

What are Computer Reading Glasses?

Computer reading glasses are specifically designed to combat eye strain when sitting at the computer. The usual distance from your eyes to the screen is 20 to 26 inches, closer than distance vision (that used for driving and other long-range tasks) but further away than near vision (that used for reading). Therefore, your regular reading glasses might not work properly for computer tasks.

Traditional computer reading glasses contain single vision lenses. The entire lens is the strength that you need for comfortable reading at an intermediate computer distance. This provides the largest intermediate viewing area of any computer reading glasses.

Another option is an occupational progressive lens. Like all progressive lenses, these are multifocal lenses, without lines, that transition between near, intermediate, and distance vision. However, in occupational progressive lenses, the intermediate viewing area is the biggest, followed by the near vision area. Since the portion of the lens dedicated to distance viewing is small, these glasses are not recommended for driving or other tasks that require clear distance vision.

Computer reading glasses should always feature an anti-reflective (AR), or anti-glare coating. This prevents light reflections from your lenses that could induce eye strain. If you spend a great deal of time at the computer, it is also helpful to choose glasses with a light tint that blocks the short-wavelength blue light emitted from computer screens.

Do I Need Both?

Whether to choose computer reading glasses, regular reading glasses, or both depends largely on your personal needs, desires, and lifestyle. Those who suffer from CVS may not need traditional reading glasses, but those with presbyopia might prefer to purchase both types. Some people find that occupational progressive lenses meet their needs for both reading and computer work, while others find that the viewing areas for each type of vision are too small. If you spend only small amounts of time in front of a screen, you might decide that your regular readers are “good enough.”

Talk to a professional eyewear specialist about the pros and cons of different readers. Take a look at online reviews, and ask your friends what they use. Ultimately, though, it is usually best to spend some time trying out different kinds of readers at different strengths. Only through trial and error will you truly settle on the readers that meet your needs.

Since 1995, the family-owned and operated Affordable Fashion Readers has been providing comfortable, high quality, fashionable reading glasses at prices you can afford. All of our eyewear has been tested and personally approved by a member of our team. Take the first step toward clearer vision today!