“My arms are getting too short!” It’s a common complaint among those of us over forty, as we begin to hold books and magazines further and further away to read them. We’re getting farsighted, and as much as we might try to fight it, it’s time to invest in a pair of reading glasses.
Sure, you can grab a random pair from the drugstore rack and hope for the best — but there’s a tried and true system to finding your go-to pairs. Read on and learn a few quick tricks for selecting readers best suited to your needs and style:
1. Start with the strength
Reading glasses come in several different strengths, which increase by .25 diopters. Don’t just guess at which will work best for you. Instead, download and print this handy reading test card, also called a Diopter Test. Scan the rows of words, ranging from small to large, and choose your corresponding prescription. If you fall between sizes, shop for readers that are the next size down — never up. And don’t forget to take off your current reading glasses before taking the test.
2. Choose the right lens type
Full frame lenses are best for reading for long stretches without removing your glasses. Half frames that perch lower on your nose Ben Franklin-style allow you to more easily go back and forth between reading and focusing on objects further away, which can appear blurry in full frame lenses. You can also have the best of both worlds with a pair of bifocals, which combine reading lenses at the bottom with clear glass at the top.
3. Find a frame for your face shape
Your reading glasses can flatter as well as function if you pick the right frame shape for your face. Have an oval face? You’ve hit the jackpot. Nearly any style frame will look good on you. Square, round, and heart-shaped faces have to work a bit harder. Here’s an interactive Guide for Glasses and Face Shapes that can help!
4. Make ‘em last
Avoid scratches by storing your reading glasses in a case (find a few of our favorites here). Never put them on or take them off with just one hand; this stresses the hinges more than if you slip them on and off with both hands. Pushing them out of the way and on top of your head can also stretch and bend the frames out of shape, and think how foolish you’ll look when you ask your spouse, “Have you seen my glasses?”
5. Spread ‘em around
Reading glasses cost so much less than prescription lenses and frames; however, owners tend to misplace them often! Keep a pair handy on your bedside table, another in your briefcase or purse, a pair in your family room, and another in the kitchen. That way, they’re always around when you need them most! Different styles will work better for different activities, too. A pair of half frames might be just the ticket for glancing down at your cookbook, while computer readers are best for long days spent at your desk or for nighttime tablet browsing.
For even more tips, be sure to check out our Glasses Guide!
Disclaimer: All references to “bifocals” herein refer to readers having unmagnified lenses containing a “bifocal style” single powered reading glass insert located in the lower portion of the lenses.