What Strength Reading Glasses Do I Need?

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It happens to everybody — as your 40s approach, your up-close vision begins to deteriorate. Fine text becomes blurry, and you find yourself holding books and newspapers farther and farther away just to be able to see. You, like millions of others, need reading glasses. For someone who has never needed glasses, it can be an overwhelming task to figure out what reading glasses strength you need.

Follow these steps to find your reading glasses prescription:

STEP 1: Decide on a pharmacy or retailer that has reading glasses. If it’s your first pair, it might be useful to visit a brick-and-mortar store so that you can try them on — this will help you not only with determining your prescription, but also with determining what color, shape, and size of readers looks best on you.

STEP 2: At the store, ask to see a reading test card, sometimes known as a Diopter Test. This card will have rows of words, ranging from small to large. Each line will have a corresponding prescription. That will be your starting point for trying on reading glasses. Remember to take your glasses off when you take the diopter test. You also can use our handy print-out diopter chart below. If you have different vision needs in your right and left eye, simply cover up one eye at a time to test your eyes individually.

Guide to Finding the Right Reading Glasses Power

Click on image to download printable diopter chart

STEP 3: Keep in mind that prescription numbers for reading glasses increase by .25 diopters. For example, +1.00, +1.25, +1.50 and +1.75. However, for simplicity, some diopter cards may increase by the .50, or even by the whole number. This is why it is important to remember that your reading test card results are simply your starting point for choosing reading glasses; you will need to try on several pairs to find a perfect match.

STEP 4: Start trying on reading glasses, beginning with the prescription your test results gave. Try on several pairs that are stronger and weaker prescriptions than your starting point. Once you narrow the prescriptions down to two pairs and see well with both powers, get the lower power. For example, if you can see well with both +1.50 and +1.75, get the +1.50. Always go down in power, never up. At most stores, you will find readers to accommodate the following whole number prescriptions (and everything in between):

Reading glasses +1.00
Reading glasses +2.00
Reading glasses +3.00
Reading glasses +4.00
Reading glasses +5.00
Reading glasses +6.00

If you have different vision needs in your right and left eye, customizable reading glasses are your solution. You’ll be able to choose from bifocals or full magnification and select your power for each eye. Browse customizable reading glasses here.

STEP 5: Once you determine your prescription, it is time to purchase your reading glasses. As mentioned before, you can purchase them at a pharmacy or retail store. Or, once you know what prescription and style is best for you, you can also buy reading glasses online.

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  • J.W. Bowers Jr.

    What if I can’t read any of them, without my glasses on?

  • Readers.com

    Hi, J.W. If you’re having trouble reading the entire chart, we recommend visiting an eye doctor for additional help determining your power.

  • Jerry

    What if I can read the lines but I get headaches after playing board games or scanning articles online via computer?

  • VintageClass11

    You are supposed to have readers ON when looking at the chart .

  • Orangecoke

    That’s not what the article says ?