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Computer Reading Glasses vs. Reading Glasses: Do You Need Both?

We love to curl up with a good book, a cozy blanket, and a cup of tea. But, we must admit that we end up doing more of our reading from a computer screen than from the pages of a classic novel. (How can we resist when there are so many good blogs out there — like, ahem, this one!)

If you, like us, are doing a lot of your reading on the computer or on another digital device, like your smartphone, then you might benefit from a pair of computer reading glasses. Investing in a second pair of readers, designed specifically for your screen time, can help reduce some of the eye strain associated with digital screens.

We’ll take a look at the differences between standard reading glasses and computer reading glasses to help you decide if computer readers are right for you.

Standard Reading Glasses vs. Computer Reading Glasses

Computer reading glasses: 4 pairs of Pair Eyewear's eyeglasses on a blue background

Both standard reading glasses and computer reading glasses help correct presbyopia, or the loss of close-up vision that happens naturally as we age. Reading lenses magnify the image or text in front of us to make it easier to see. And they come in different levels of magnification, so you can choose the right level for you.

But that “right level” might be different if you’re reading from your computer monitor instead of from a book or your smartphone. And while standard reading glasses have clear lenses, computer reading glasses often have an anti-blue light filter. Here’s a more detailed look at these differences.

Magnification

The magnification on reading glasses ranges from +0.25 to +2.75. Presbyopia often comes on gradually and this range allows you to increase the strength of your glasses as your vision changes. However, that’s not the only time to adjust your magnification strength.

Having readers of different strengths can help you more comfortably read text at different distances from your face. When you’re reading a book, you’ll typically hold it about one foot away from your face. But when you work on the computer, you’ll typically sit about 2-3 feet away from your screen.

These are different distances, so you may need a different magnification strength to comfortably view each object. You’ll likely need stronger magnification to see that book that’s very close to your face, and you’ll be able to use weaker magnification to see the computer screen.

Experiment with different levels of magnification to decide what’s most comfortable for you. You can head to your local pharmacy and try on different strengths of over-the-counter glasses. (Then leave those generic pharmacy glasses behind and find a cuter Pair.) Or, you can talk to an eye doctor to get their recommendations on the ideal magnification strengths for your different needs.

Blue Light Filtering

The other feature that differentiates computer reading glasses from standard reading glasses is that computer readers typically have a blue light filter added to the lens to block out potentially harmful blue light.

Blue light won’t necessarily appear blue to the naked eye (or even to the bespectacled eye). It simply falls on a part of the visible light spectrum that has a blue wavelength. Computer screens and digital devices emit a lot of blue light.

While blue light is potentially harmful, it isn’t always harmful. Morning sunlight emits a lot of blue light (far more than your computer screen), which helps wake us up and makes us feel more alert, focused, and energetic.

But if you’re exposed to too much blue light over time, it could damage the cells in your retina and cause vision problems. A lot of blue light at night can also disrupt your body’s production of melatonin (the sleep hormone), and make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

So basically, blue light in the morning is good, blue light in the evening is bad, and too much blue light overall is also bad. Wearing blue light readers, especially when you use the computer in the late afternoon and evening, can help protect you from some of these negative effects.

You can get blue light blocking glasses and gaming glasses with no magnification, or you can get blue light reading glasses with magnifications from +0.25 to +2.75. You can even get prescription blue light glasses with single vision or progressive lenses. All of these options will feature filtering technology to block out the blue light.

What Are the Benefits of Computer Reading Glasses?

Pair Eyewear's eyeglasses on a yellow background

Computer reading glasses can help your eyes feel more comfortable during computer use, and they may reduce some of the negative side effects of extended screen time. The main benefits of using computer readers over standard readers include:

  • Reducing the harmful effects of blue light: The main benefit of blue light blocking glasses is that they allow less blue light to get to your retinas, which can protect your eyes from damage and improve your sleep.

  • Decreasing digital eye strain: Staring at a computer for long hours can lead to dry eye and eye fatigue. Using blue light readers can help decrease these uncomfortable symptoms.

  • Improving your computer posture: If you’re struggling to see your computer screen, you’re more likely to tilt your head at an angle that’s uncomfortable for your neck, contributing to neck strain. Getting glasses that are the correct magnification for computer use will allow you to hold your head at a more natural angle.

Even when you use computer reading glasses, you should follow other best practices for taking your eyes during screen time. Use the 20-20-20 rule, and take a break every 20 minutes to look 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Whenever you use a digital device at night, dim the screen as much as possible. And try to avoid screen time after 8 p.m.

Do You Need a Prescription for Computer Reading Glasses?

Readers are considered non-prescription glasses. So you don’t need a prescription to order a pair. You just need to know your preferred magnification level for reading on the computer. If you’re not sure what magnification strength you need, you can always consult your eye doctor even though you don’t need a prescription.

However, if you typically wear a multifocal lens, like bifocals or progressive lenses, you may want to visit your eye doctor. These are prescription lenses.

You may be able to get away with wearing a pair of non-prescription computer reading glasses, instead of your prescription glasses, when you’re on the computer. Then you can switch to your prescription glasses for your other daily activities.

But there may be other options — like computer progressive lenses — that could be more comfortable and allow you to switch glasses less often. If you’re not sure what lens type you need, talk to your eye doctor.

Spend Your Screen Time in Style

Woman holding 2 pairs of eyeglasses

Computer readers can make your screen time more comfortable, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice fashion for function. Your glasses are front and center on your face, so they should be an expression of who you are.

At Pair Eyewear, we believe that your glasses should make you look and feel good. So we make computer reading glasses that you can customize to fit your vision — your actual vision and your style vision.

Choose from a variety of frame styles in black, tortoise, clear, and other stylish colors. Then, customize them by adding snap-on Top Frames in a variety of colors and patterns. (So you can have plaid, sparkle, or neon frames in a snap! And without buying a second pair of glasses.)

All our glasses are made with lightweight acetate frames and durable spring hinges. The lenses are treated with anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings to keep you seeing clearly. And you can add blue light filtering technology to create a custom pair of computer reading glasses. Find your perfect Pair today!