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Are Computer Glasses Different From Reading Glasses?

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A young woman working on her laptop while wearing computer glasses

Are Computer Glasses Different From Reading Glasses?

The amount of time we spend on screens today is only increasing. Whether you’re on your computer for work or scrolling Facebook on your lunch breaks, the screen time can start causing uncomfortable digital eye strain symptoms.

You may not think that there is much difference between computer or reading glasses. However, choosing the right glasses for what you’re doing can make a big difference in how your eyes feel.

Types of Glasses

If you’re experiencing eye strain or dry eye symptoms, it’s a good idea to book an eye exam with your optometrist. While your symptoms may be due to screen usage, an optometrist can rule out other potential issues and recommend the best glasses for you.

Reading Glasses

Over-the-counter reading glasses may work for people who have the same prescription in each eye with no astigmatism. Over-the-counter reading glasses lenses provide only one focal point, however, the optics in these lenses may not be optimal. Depending on the strength of the lenses in the glasses, they should assist with reading and digital strain. You may also experience glare from the lenses. 

At Henderson Vision Centre, we carry a selection of these over-the-counter reading glasses for you to see if they may work for your needs.

Prescription Glasses

Prescription single-vision reading or computer glasses can be made for a specific task within working distance. With prescription glasses, the prescription is the same throughout the lens. These are best used for tasks where the focal point does not change. For example, when you are sitting and reading a book for an extended period of time.

Computer Glasses

You can get a specific prescription for computer glasses. (There are also non-prescription computer glasses too.) These glasses simply have special filters to help reduce eye strain when using computers or other electronics. A prescription computer lens is designed for digital screens held approximately 2 feet from your face. 

Office Glasses

Office glasses allow for two focal points. When you look through the top of the lens, you can focus on your computer screen and desk. As your eyes look down through the bottom of the lens, you can focus on paperwork, and reading. This allows you to go back and forth between two focal points very comfortably. Many people wear office glasses at work so they can comfortably keep the glasses on throughout their workday.

Anti-Reflective Coating

An anti-reflective coating is always recommended to help control glare from your computer screen. Some people find that a blue-light filtering coating can also help with eye strain. The blue light filter can help minimize the effects of screens on your natural circadian rhythm as well.

An older woman working at her laptop with computer glasses on

Difference Between Computer Glasses and Reading Glasses

These glasses work to reduce eye strain while you’re performing different tasks. But even though they do similar jobs, they do them differently. 

Reading glasses have various magnification levels designed to reduce eye strain while reading small print. Typically the lenses are clear but are available with light tints as well. In most cases, reading glasses are fine for occasional computer use where you need to read something small on a screen.

Other than that, reading glasses help reduce headaches from straining to read. Computer glasses and office glasses can help you focus better while minimizing symptoms of eye strain or dry eye while looking at screens all day.

What If I Need Two Types of Glasses?

With available technology, there are many options out there for different types of glasses. Your eye doctor can recommend the type of glasses and prescription that fits your needs.

If you’re still unsure of which glasses you should be using in your situation, check in with the helpful staff at Henderson Vision Centre. We can answer any of your questions about computer glasses or reading glasses and ensure you get the right ones for your situation.

Written by Dr. Melina Chow

Dr. Chow received her Doctor of Optometry from the University of Waterloo in 2005. She has been an integral part of the Henderson Vision team for over 15 years, moving back to her hometown immediately upon graduating from university. When she isn’t at the clinic, Dr. Chow runs circles trying to keep up with her two energetic boys. Once she’s had enough cardio, she enjoys baking and planning her next vacation.
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