One of the more obvious signs of getting older involves your vision. When once-crystal-clear words on a page or screen start to blur, it may be a sign that you need reading glasses.
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Perhaps that’s all you need. But it’s still important to consult a doctor for an eye exam to rule out other, more serious, problems — especially if you have concerns or symptoms related to your eyes or vision.
What happens as we start getting older
Ophthalmologist Rishi Singh, MD, says the need for reading glasses first becomes evident when you’re holding reading material farther and farther away from you in order to see it better.
That’s because, as we age, our eyes become less mobile, making it more difficult to focus on objects that are close to us.
An optometrist can help you choose a good pair of high-quality reading glasses. In a pinch, you can also get inexpensive glasses at any drugstore. (And anyone who needs reading glasses can tell you you’ll want plenty of spares around the house.)
If you do go the drugstore route, how can you find the perfect pair to makes those fuzzy letters and words clear again?
Tips on choosing the right reading glasses
Before you go, Dr. Singh suggests gathering up some reading material to take with you to the drug store.
- Find the right power. All reading glasses will have signs or stickers indicating their power. In most cases they’ll range from +1 to +4 diopter, in increments of +.25. Try the lowest power (+1) first.
- Test-drive the glasses. If you’ve brought reading material with you, try reading it at a comfortable length. (Many drugstore eyeglass displays have an eye chart, too, to test the glasses.) Dr. Singh says if you have to hold the material too far out to be able to read it, increase the power. Keep testing the different powers until can read clearly at the distance that’s most comfortable for you.
- Go big the first time. Dr. Singh suggests that while there are many styles and colors to choose from, you may want to start your reading glass journey with a bigger pair of specs. “You may need larger glasses frames or lens to really get the sweet spot of where the prescription is,” he explains. You can go down in size as you get used to wearing them, he adds.
If you’re still having trouble with your vision, see an optometrist or ophthalmologist — you may need a prescription, bifocals, or another solution.