Reading Glasses vs. Custom Reading Glasses

Suddenly that newspaper article you’re reading becomes a bit fuzzy and you stretch your arms out further and further to see it clearly. This is completely normal, particularly if you’re nearing 40. As individuals age, they often develop presbyopia, which is a diminished ability to focus on objects up close. Reading glasses are a simple fix. While many purchase the specs without a prescription, it can be difficult to determine reading glasses strength. This is why custom readers have an advantage over store-bought pairs. 

The labels on reading glasses typically read:

  • +1.00
  • +1.25
  • +1.50
  • +1.75
  • Anyone who needs above +1.75 should consider custom reading glasses. If +3.00 or above is necessary, custom glasses are a must. 

Just as with your regular spectacles, the numbers indicate the corrective strength. Reading glasses are sold in different diopters, or measurements of the power of the lens. The diopters usually increase in .25 increments, getting stronger as they go up.

Most individuals start at +1.00 or +1.25 diopters and gradually go higher over the years. Aging eyes will often require two pairs of reading glasses; a stronger pair for printed material and a weaker prescription for objects at an intermediate distance, such as your computer screen.

Reading glasses are available at a slew of different stores, but most fall between +1.00 to +3.00 diopters. As mentioned above, higher prescriptions warrant a trip to the optometrist followed by a visit to the Spectacle Shoppe so we can make you the perfect pair of prescription reading glasses.

What makes a custom made pair worthwhile? Pre-made readers have generic optical centers. Individuals rarely have an identical distance between their eyes. This is like assuming everyone wears the same shoe size. When the lenses aren’t in the correct location and aren’t the appropriate power, they can cause an optical prism. When not prescribed, an optical prism can negatively effect your vision and the muscles of your eyes. This has the potential to cause long-term damage.

General store-bought reading glasses also fail to account for astigmatism. The condition is characterized by a football shaped eyeball that requires two prescriptive powers 90 degrees apart versus a spherical eyeball shape similar to a soccer ball that requires only one prescriptive strength. If your reading glasses don’t have astigmatic correction when required, it can lead to eyestrain and headaches.

To determine the strength without leaving home, our printable diopter chart is helpful. Print the diopter test using 100% scale and hold the page approximately a foot away. As soon as you can read a line clearly, that is the reading glasses strength you will need.

Presbyopia is a natural part of aging, and diet and eye exercises won’t prevent it. Almost all adults will eventually need reading glasses. Be sure to keep up with regular examinations to ensure your eyes are healthy.

Just like any medical device, it’s safer and more effective to have your spectacles fit properly and customized to your specific needs. The Spectacle Shoppe offers reading glasses to suit any style. Use our diopter chart and order a pair online or swing by the store for expert advice. Happy reading!

Morgan Nahanee
Morgan Nahanee


Morgan is The Spectacle Shoppe’s Lead Technician and Customer Relations Specialist as well as a Principle of Spectacle Shoppe. She is a licensed contact lens fitter and dispensing optician and has been working for The Spectacle Shoppe since 2006. She graduated from Douglas College’s two year Dispensing Optician and Contact Lens Fitting Program in 2008. From contact lens fitting to eyeglass repairs and adjustments Morgan is eager to help you with any optical needs. Connect with Morgan Nahanee on Google+