Choosing Glasses and Sunglasses
Breakthroughs in lens design and technology have transformed the eyeglass industry, improving the science of vision correction and introducing a world of new options for thinner, lighter, and more aesthetically pleasing lenses.
Single-vision lenses, which have the same prescription throughout, are most commonly prescribed for people with:
- Nearsightedness – characterized by the ability to see objects that are nearby clearly, while objects further away appear blurry.
- Farsightedness – characterized by the inability to clearly see objects nearby.
- Astigmatism – a very common, correctable vision condition resulting in blurred vision at any distance
Multi-focal lenses, which are lenses with two or more prescriptions, correct more than one vision problem, improving the wearer’s vision at varying distances. Examples of these types of lenses include bifocals, trifocals and progressives.
Reading glasses improve your vision for objects that are close by, such as books and papers, by magnifying these objects. Reading glasses or “readers” are widely available, both with a prescription and over the counter. You can purchase readers from your eye care provider's office and also at drugstores, supermarkets, online and at other retail outlets. Readers come in many styles, shapes, and colors, and are a fun way to experiment with your look without spending a lot of money. Reading glasses can also be custom-made and fit for comfort.
Readers are ideal for someone who needs vision correction while reading newsprint or books, fine print or menus. They are also ideal for near distance tasks such as crossword puzzles, needlepoint, or other hobbies that require attention to detail at a close range. Half-eye readers allow you to look down through the lenses to read, and up and over the lens to see at a distance. An alternative to half-eye readers, although not as popular, are full-frame reading glasses which cover your whole field of vision and need to be removed to see clearly in the distance. They do not differ from half-eye readers except for their shape.
As they age, many adults turn to reading glasses because they are experiencing the signs of presbyopia. As your eyes get older, their lenses gradually lose their ability to flex, making focusing on close objects, such as a page of a book, a newspaper, or a menu, difficult. It is a natural sign of aging and cannot be prevented, but it can be corrected through the use of reading glasses. Most people notice signs of presbyopia in their late 40s and early 50s.
Office work often requires a specialized field of view, one that remains sharp at near and intermediate distances. Progressive lenses can improve focus while working at a computer, reading, or handling paperwork. While in front of a computer monitor, these glasses help reduce headaches, correct blurry vision, and may even increase productivity. Additionally, a no-glare coating on the lenses will help combat eye strain by softening the glare from harsh office lighting.
Low Vision Devices
Low vision devices are available only from a low vision specialist and cannot be ordered online or purchased over the counter. Their use requires guidance and training from an eye care professional to ensure that the device is serving its full and intended purpose. Patients with low vision can maximize their remaining vision and develop strategies that lead to a more independent lifestyle through the use of low vision devices. The main principles behind low vision devices are to enhance contrast, control glare, and magnify objects using various tools.
Most people with low vision use multiple low vision aids because each is designed to serve a very specific purpose. Low vision aids fall into the following categories: near-vision magnification, intermediate magnification, distance-vision magnification, and optical filters.
Used for improving sight of objects close by, within 20 inches, such as newsprint and crossword puzzles.
Used for improving vision involving tasks performed at arm’s length, between 20 and 40 inches, such as working on crafts or playing board games.
Used for improving sight beyond six feet, such as watching a movie or riding a bicycle.
To learn more about low vision, or to locate a low vision specialist near you, visit whatislowvision.org.
If you would like someone from The Vision Council to contact you about low vision and potential solutions, please call our hotline at 1-877-457-0536 or click this link to fill out our contact form.