The Myth About Reading Glasses

True or False: Readers make your vision worse!

False! You buy them in bulk (one for each room in the house), you share them with your wife, you pass them around the table to read the menu….but Over-the-Counter Readers do not harm your vision. Unfortunately, each one of us, when we reach the age of 40, will lose the ability to focus up close. Gradually, we will need more magnification and we will need the readers more often as years go by. This is all due to a simple change that occurs to the lens in our eye that is responsible for focusing.

Each eye has a built-in magnification lens in it. This lens is attached to muscles, which when contracted, change the shape and focusing power of the lens. When we are younger and want to read a book, the muscles in our eyes contract and change the shape of our lenses, which then brings small print into focus. When we look away from our book to see at a distance, the muscles relax and the lenses return to their former shape, bringing the distance into focus. As we age, the muscles in the eyes still contract, but when they do, the lenses do not respond as well, as they stiffen with age. The further away you hold your book, the less focusing power (and smaller change in lens shape) is required to see it. This is the reason why many people can get by without readers if they hold reading material at arms length….. until their arms are too short!

While readers don’t cause vision loss, glasses prescribed for you can more accurately correct the prescription in each eye (as the prescription in each eye is not always the same), allowing for more comfortable vision where both eyes can work together. Additionally, readers are designed for the average person, with an average distance between the two eyes (a measurement called the pupillary distance used to center the lenses in front of the eyes). Eyestrain may result from using readers with an inappropriate pupillary distance.

Even if your readers are getting the job done, you should still have your eye doctor examine the health of your eyes during a complete eye exam. And if readers are a hassle, talk to your eye doctor about contact lenses, as there are many options available that can improve your ability to read, see your computer, your cell phone, and even apply your eye make-up!

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