This question may be asked in two situations. First, when do people need reading glasses, in general? That is, at what age do people start using reading glasses, on average?

The second situation would be when a particular individual actually uses reading glasses. In other words, a person may need such glasses for very fine print on a package or with mail, but might be able to read larger print without assistance from reading glasses.

Records indicate that the population in general begins to need reading glasses in their mid-30s or perhaps as late as the early 40s. The scientific term for this is presbyopia. People with this condition find that their eyes are not as flexible in mid-life as they were in their youth. In essence, the lens gets thicker and is less flexible when the eye needs to change focus from the distance to something closer. A second lens is needed to help the eye’s lens, so that the close objects are focused properly on the back of the eye (retina).

It would be safe to say that a majority of people who reach the age of 35 or 40, then start having problems seeing close objects will buy a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses and move on with their lives. Since these are available without a doctor’s prescription, the choice is a simple one. It is also relatively inexpensive.

The condition described above, called presbyopia in the scientific community, can gradually get worse as people age, so they may need to get a stronger pair of reading glasses as the years go on. In fact, some people may notice that the one pair of reading glasses they have is fine for reading a book or the larger print on a package, but the glasses do not bring in fine print clearly. This may be a sign that the eyes are changing.

However, there are doctors and other medical personnel who strongly urge people to schedule a visit to an optometrist, to make sure that there is no condition more serious than the need for a little help when reading.

When it comes to considering the need for reading glasses in an individual case, there are some basic questions to be asked. These answers can be provided honestly to oneself, at home, or in response to questions from a medical professional. In either case, the information may help determine if there are particular situations in which reading glasses are needed.

Some people have found that they can read quality books that are printed on good, white paper, but they struggle with smaller print in a paperback book, for example. Others have found that a year ago they were able to see things very clearly on their computer monitor, but lately the print is not quite so clear and the pictures aren’t as sharp.

Doctors and individuals both ask if squinting helps clear the vision, even a little. This action helps “flex” the lens temporarily. This may be another indication that help is needed.

You don’t need to struggle with seeing things that are close to your eyes. Help is available.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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