Do Reading Glasses Help with Astigmatism?

Reading glasses are a great tool and an excellent way to help with many eye-related conditions. If you’re wondering what conditions reading glasses can help with, and whether there are reading glasses for astigmatism, we’ve got answers. 

Astigmatism is a refractive error characterized by blurred vision, distortion, and excessive squinting or maneuvering in order to focus on objects. It’s similar to other refractive conditions like nearsightedness and farsightedness. However, astigmatism is not the same category as those conditions and is treated differently.

So, what is astigmatism, and can reading glasses help? Let’s talk about it.

What Is Astigmatism?

Astigmatism is an eye-related imperfection that most often occurs during birth or early childhood. It’s closely related to nearsightedness and farsightedness, so it’s common to see a combination of these three conditions present at the same time. 

It’s especially important to recognize the signs and symptoms of astigmatism as it can occur during early childhood, and children may not notice changes in their vision. Watch out for excessive squinting, difficulty focusing on words or reading, or any other noticeable signs of discomfort or pain. 

Causes of Astigmatism

So, what causes this condition, and how does the eye respond? 

Astigmatism is known as a “refractive error.” In other words, it occurs due to the improper refraction of light in the direction of the retina. Our eyes have two important parts that help them function properly: the cornea and the lens. The cornea is dome-shaped and is on the outermost surface of the eye. The lens is oval-shaped and lies behind the cornea. 

Both of these structures are responsible for bending the light that enters the eye and refracting perfectly on the retina, which processes and focuses on images. However, when the cornea and lens are misshapen, refractive errors can occur, and the light may not be properly directed to the retina, making images blurry instead of sharp. 

Types of Astigmatism

In the case of astigmatism, either the cornea or the lens of your eye is bent slightly more in one direction than the other. The bending takes the circular-shaped cornea and turns it into a football shape instead. This causes light to be bent in two separate directions, producing two separate pictures. These pictures run into each other and produce a blurry image. 

If the lens causes the refractive error, this is known as lenticular astigmatism. When the cornea bends in different directions, this is known as corneal astigmatism. 

In addition to lenticular and corneal astigmatism, there’s another important distinction to make. There are different types of astigmatism based on which direction the cornea or lens is bent. 

The cornea and lens may be bent in a nearsighted direction, a farsighted direction, or mixed where one eye might be nearsighted while the other is farsighted. In most cases, the cornea and lenses of each eye tend to differ in degrees of refractive errors. 

Are There Treatment Options?

In some cases, astigmatism isn’t severe enough to need treatment or even glasses for this particular eye condition. However, in other cases, it’s noticeable and needs to be addressed.

Here are a few of the treatment options available for astigmatism.


  • Surgery: 


Surgery is a treatment option that can correct astigmatism. This surgery permanently corrects the shape of the cornea or lens, helping correct your focus and vision. It is permanent, but it also comes at a higher risk and a higher expense than other treatment options. 


  • Eyewear: 


Eyewear is the most common way to treat astigmatism. It’s simple, risk-free, and customizable to your needs. However, most wonder whether there are reading glasses for astigmatism that can help correct the condition.

Unfortunately, reading glasses don’t help with astigmatism. Only prescription lenses can help correct this refractive error. Reading glasses can correct farsightedness, another common refractive error, but not astigmatism. Instead, look for an eye doctor who can help you find prescription eyewear and contact lenses to address this refractive error. 

What if You Just Need Reading Glasses?

Reading glasses can’t help with astigmatism, but they can potentially help with conditions such as presbyopia and farsightedness. Presbyopia is characterized by blurriness and difficulty when reading words up close and occurs between the age of 40 to 65. Presbyopia is a completely normal change our eyes go through as we get older and is caused by the natural wear and tear of our eye muscles. Often, people may find it helpful to wear a pair of fashionable reading glasses. 

Farsightedness is very similar to presbyopia and is a refractive error that often occurs early on in childhood or even at birth. This is also characterized by difficulty focusing on objects close up while being able to clearly see objects at a distance. 

If you notice difficulty reading up close, it could be that you have presbyopia or farsightedness. A pair of reading glasses might be able to help. Reading glasses use lenses that contain a specific diopter strength to help correct farsightedness or presbyopia and help you focus on words up close instead of holding them at arm’s length. 

What Reading Glasses Do You Need?

There are tons of reading glasses to fit your specific needs. For instance, there are customizable reading glasses with a pair of lenses that come in two different strengths. There are also reading glasses that offer multiple reading strengths in the same lens, such as these multifocal reading glasses that offer two or three lens portions that you can look through. 

No matter what kind of reading glasses you need or prefer, it’s easy to find the strength you need at home. Start by printing off this diopter chart. When using this chart, it’s important that you hold it 14 inches from your face and read the lines without reading glasses on. 

Start at the top and go down the list slowly until you find a line that you can read clearly. Once you can read one line clearly, note the number with the plus sign that’s next to it. This number is the reading glasses strength you need.

The type of reading glasses you choose is up to you. You can pick a pair of reading sunglasses and enjoy your favorite book at the beach, or you can choose a pair of computer reading glasses that can keep your eyes comfortable while you work at your computer or on your phone. 

You can also choose a pair based on your face shape, so your glasses will compliment your features and balance out your face. In general, it’s best to choose a shape that’s the opposite of your face shape. This helps balance you out and soften your features. So, if you have a square face shape, choosing circular lenses will help balance you out and vice versa. 

You can also choose whatever colors and patterns you like based on your preferences, clothing style, or personality. There are tons of options when it comes to reading glasses, and at,® we carry dozens of fashion-forward styles and colors to choose from. 

A Pair for Everyone

If you’re not sure whether you need reading glasses or glasses for astigmatism, it’s important to talk to your eye care professional. However, reading glasses can help with presbyopia, farsightedness and help your eyes focus. Plus, finding the right pair of reading glasses is easy with these tools and resources.

There’s a pair for everyone. Shop today to find the best reading glasses for you! 



Anatomy of the Eye | Kellogg Eye Center, University of Michigan 

 Astigmatism – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic 

 What Is Astigmatism? | AAO 

Presbyopia – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic 

Farsightedness – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic