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According to the Vision Council of America, 182 million Americans use some sort of vision-correcting eyewear. That’s about 55% of the population. Of those people, 60% are far-sighted, meaning they can see things far away but may have trouble reading up close. In addition, about 25% of people who are not far-sighted will become so as they age. That means millions of people in America alone need the help of the best reading glasses.
What are reading glasses? Dr. Shane Kannarr, OD and Medical Reviewer for All About Vision shared with SPY that “readers simply add power to our eyes. They change our focus from distance to near.”
Why do so many people need reading glasses? As we age, the lens in our eye becomes less flexible, making it harder for the eyes to focus on objects within arm’s length. In the medical world, this is called presbyopia, which translates to “elder vision,” although some people may need reading glasses far earlier than others.
In many cases, off-the-rack reading glasses that you can pick up for cheap on Amazon and other online stores will suffice. Before we dive into the best reading glasses available online, let’s first look at some must-have information about the best reading glasses, and consider a few factors before choosing the best pair for you.
Why Are Reading Glasses Helpful?
Dr. Kannarr expressed that as we age “our lenses get thicker and less malleable and the muscles that change its shape get weaker. Readers simply add power to your eyes.”
Reading glasses help magnify the content you’re reading, making it easier for your eyes to decipher and reducing eye strain. The best reading glasses can help make reading easier, so you can read for longer periods of time without exhausting or damaging your eyes. They also work with paper books, digital screens, e-readers and more. Reading glasses can also be helpful to carry around in your purse or briefcase for isolated moments throughout the day when you need to read something up close, like a menu in a restaurant, for example.
Dr. Kannarr also noted that “if distance [vision] is clear through your readers, you likely need prescription glasses.”
How Do You Know If You Need Reading Glasses?
When you really need reading glasses, it’ll be 100% clear. However, there are early warning signs you can look out for, and address with reading glasses before your vision gets worse.
You might need reading glasses if:
- You’re Always Squinting: If all of a sudden reading a menu at a restaurant, a book before bed or a meme on your child’s phone has become impossible, it might be time for reading glasses.
- Your Vision is Blurry: If you’re got blurry vision, it might not be because your phone screen is dirty or you’re tired. You might need reading glasses to help make things sharper, crisper and easier to see.
- You’re Always Getting Headaches: This symptom could have a variety of causes, but if you’re experiencing either of the above and are getting headaches after reading all day, reading glasses could help.
Dr. Kannarr noted that “the most obvious sign is blurry on near task. You can add to that eye strain, difficulty focusing and headaches with near work.”
When Should You Wear Reading Glasses?
You should only wear reading glasses for close-up tasks as needed. Dr. Kannarr offered that “reading glasses should only be worn for near (reading a book, looking at a tablet), or intermediate (a computer monitor, counter top, prices at the store).”
He added that “as we move through life we might likely need two different powers for these two different tasks.”
“Reading glasses simply help us focus. They do not strengthen or weaken the eyes.”
He also strongly encouraged everyone to get regular eye exams to help confirm eye health and for preventative early detection of ocular and systemic diseases.
1. Gaoye Reading Glasses, 5 Pack
The thing about reading glasses is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a quality pair that looks nice. The Gaoye five-Pack Reading Glasses proves just that. The resin frames come in several colors, including tortoiseshell and plain black. The polycarbonate lenses block blue light and are practically indestructible, ensuring you won’t lose a pair every time you drop them. Plus, this combination of materials also makes these readers extremely lightweight. Available in a variety of magnifications, from 0.0x to 4.0x, these glasses are suitable for both men and women so that you can share the set with your partner, too. With all of these qualities, these are the best reading glasses by far — or the five best reading glasses, that is.
2. Warby Parker Reading Glasses
Warby Parker is a name that’s dominated the world of eyeglasses in the past couple of years — and for good reason. These glasses mean business. At a standard, Warby Parker treats all lenses with scratch-resistant and anti-reflective coatings. Yeah, even their readers. They have many handsome styles to choose from and have magnification strengths from +0.25 up to +2.75.
3. DOUBLETAKE Reading Glasses
If you want a glasses and case combo, you can’t beat the DOUBLETAKE Reading Glasses. This pair of minimalist readers come with two pen cases, allowing you to clip your glasses on your belt or carry them easily in your pocket without worrying that the glasses will become scratched. This is especially useful for people who don’t want to wear reading glasses full time but may need them periodically throughout the day. Furthermore, the metal frames of the glasses hold quality glass lenses that come in various magnifications, from 1.0x to 4.0x. They’re suitable for both men and women.
4. ICU Wink Rocklin Tortoise Floral Reading Glasses
BEST READING GLASSES FOR WOMEN
Tortoise reading glasses are some of the most popular options for their stylishly eclectic nature, making these a great reading glass choise for women. They aren’t so out there, but they’re out there enough to the point that someone might tell you, “Hey, nice glasses!” These glasses from Target are a standout because they are reasonably priced, have a unique shape you don’t see so much in reading glasses and are available in four different magnifications depending on your needs. Plus, it’s Target, so while you’re shopping, you can even snag clothes, games, electronics and groceries.
5. Boost Eyewear Reading Glasses, 6 Pack
The thing about reading glasses is that you don’t always have to wear them, and they, therefore, often get forgotten. The fix to this is to have multiple pairs of readers so that you can stash one in every room of your house, or so that when you forget a pair at a public place, you still have several backup pairs. That’s why the Boost Eyewear Reading Glasses come with six different pairs of glasses. The unisex glasses include two black pairs, two tortoiseshell pairs, one blue pair and one red pair. Available in various diopters (aka magnification strengths) up to 4.0, these glasses also boast shatter-resistant frames and lenses for your safety.
6. Success Eyewear Reading Glasses
Possibly the most portable eyewear on our list, the Success Eyewear Reading Glasses fold down to fit in a case that’s just a couple of inches. When unfolded, the glasses remain small, with frames just 48mm by 25mm. This set of two comes with one pair in gunmetal and another pair in black. Plus, they’re available in strengths ranging from 0.75x to 3.0x. Just keep in mind that these are not the most comfortable glasses to wear, so if you need a pair of readers more frequently than not, you may want to invest in a different selection from this list.
7. livho Kids Blue Light Blocking Glasses
BEST READING GLASSES FOR KIDS
We’re assuming most kids don’t need an intense magnifying prescription in order to read, and that blocking the blue light from screens is more of a priority for parents. These gaming glasses come sized for ages 3-15 depending and come in bright, fun colors for kids to accessorize with. The flames are built durable, ultra-flexible and kid-friendly, and are designed to reduce myopia risk in children.
8. Readers.com The Beatrix Glasses
MOST STYLISH READING GLASSES
These giant red frames are very Oprah-esque and some of the best reading glasses you can buy that are also stylish. The retro cat eye shape is very trendy and the large plastic frames are built durable with metal tip accents. They’re fully magnified aspheric lenses, and come in a few different bright colors including matte red.
9. NOVIVON Blue Light Blocking Reading Glasses, 5 Pack
BEST BLUE-LIGHT BLOCKING
The blue light emitted by electronics can be bad for your eye health, especially if you’re exposed at night regularly. Not only can it impact the quality of your sleep, but blue light may also leave you at risk of macular degeneration. While the best fix is to give up electronics after dark, that is rather impractical in today’s day and age. One way around this is to ensure your reading glasses have blue-light-blocking lenses as the NOVIVON Reading Glasses do. This means that the blue wavelengths won’t reach your eyes, allowing you to read your tablet, ebook or smartphone at any time without compromising your eye health.
10. Eyekepper Men’s Vintage Reading Glasses, 5 Pack
BEST VARIETY PACK
You aren’t always going to need reading glasses in shady environments or indoors. Whether you’re reading by the pool, enjoying a newspaper while enjoying a cup of coffee, or are having a business meeting over lunch on the patio, occasionally, you’ll need sunglasses that are also readers. Thankfully, the Eyekepper Men’s Vintage Reading Glasses come with five different pairs of glasses, one of which boasts tinted lenses. All five pairs boast comfortable-to-wear, plastic frames and spring-loaded hinges. And, they’re available in strengths ranging from 0.0x to 4.0x.
11. The Key West Reading Sunglasses
BEST READING SUNGLASSES
The best reading glasses don’t need to just be worn indoors! These reading sunglasses are tinted with UV protection, and have magnified lenses for easier up-close reading. These have plastic durable frames, spring hinges and 99% UVA/UVB protection. They’re also made with aspheric and scratch-resistant lenses. The tortoiseshell pattern and retro shape make these stylish reading glasses as well.
12. Gamma Ray Optics Reading Glasses, 3 Pack
BEST METAL FRAMES
For several decades, metal has been a common frame material for the best reading glasses. That’s because metal is sturdy, often lightweight and won’t break under pressure. Thin metal frames also offer clean, minimalist lines on the face. If you’d like to rock that style, consider the Gamma Ray Optics Reading Glasses. This pack of three is available in various magnifications, all the way up to 6.0x, and they come with a manufacturer’s warranty against defects for up to two years.
13. TruVision Reading Glasses, 2 Pack
BEST READING GLASSES FOR MEN
Just because you need to wear reading glasses doesn’t mean you have to look like your grandparents. The TruVision Reading Glasses offer a timeless appeal thanks to their always trendy black frames and slight lens curvature. In addition, these glasses boast durability rarely found in other readers as they sport Sure-Flex spring arms and Dura-Tight screws. As a bonus, each pair of glasses in this set comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth bag. That way, you’ll never have to deal with smudges on your glasses when you’re out and about.
14. Norperwise Reading Glasses, 5 Pack
BEST PLASTIC FRAMES
While metal frames may be more traditional, plastic frames are more modern. They’re harder to bend out of shape but tend to snap more often. Still, they’re fashionable thanks to the variety of styles and colors available. Some of our favorites are these Norperwise Reading Glasses. Their round frames are perfectly in style in 2022, so you can wear them all day and not just when you need to read something. The set comes with five unisex glasses and is available in several different color combinations and strengths ranging from 0.5x to 6x.
Prescription vs. Store-Bought Reading Glasses
Off-the-rack or store-bought cheaters are essentially magnifying glasses in a frame you can wear. Different degrees of magnification is indicated on the label, usually ranging from 0.5x to 6.0x. If you only need a small amount of magnification and you need the same magnification in both eyes, using a pair of store-bought glasses will usually suffice.
However, the fact that you can use store-bought glasses doesn’t mean you can forgo an annual eye exam. Suddenly needing the help of reading glasses could also be a symptom of a more severe condition, like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration.
Upon visiting an eye doctor, they may recommend you use prescription reading glasses if your eyes need a stronger magnification than store-bought glasses can afford or if your eyes need different strengths.
If you know over-the-counter readers are the best option for you, read on to learn more about the best reading glasses available for purchase online.
*Disclaimer: Looking for Spy Optic? Click here: https://www.spyoptic.com.
Editor’s Note: Quotes have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
Some FAQs About the Best Reading Glasses
Reading glasses are glasses that you do not have to fill with a prescription. Instead, they are found at local stores and online with varying levels of magnification to help people read more easily.
If you're having trouble reading, whether it be on your phone, a book, what have you, there's a solid chance you might need some reading glasses that will help magnify the lettering to help you see better.
The best way to test which strength of reading glasses you need is by asking your doctor. They will provide information regarding which is the best magnification you need to pick up. Another way to do so is by going to the store and testing a bunch of glasses on there.
Reading glasses aren't too hard to find. If you're looking online, you can try places such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, CVS, or eyeglass retailers such as Caddis, Warby Parker, or The Book Club.