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Are Reading Glasses Bad for your Eyes?

Last Updated on

woman using reading eye glasses

Some muscles in our body, like biceps and triceps, can atrophy without proper exercise. You’ve often heard that your body will grow weaker unless it’s regularly exerted and stretched. Following that logic, you might be wondering if your reading glasses are making the muscles in your eyes weaker because your eye muscles aren’t working as hard to get the job done.

Here’s the great news: your eyes won’t suffer decline if you use reading glasses to give your vision a boost. However, while reading glasses may not cause permanent vision damage, wearing an incorrect prescription could result in other adverse effects such as eyestrain and headaches.

Why Do I Need Glasses?

There are four main reasons you might need glasses. Only one of these conditions, presbyopia, can be solved by reading glasses alone. The other conditions need prescription glasses. Most of the reasons for needing glasses boil down to genetics and age, two uncontrollable factors that typically progress over time.


You could have myopia¹ or nearsightedness, which is when you can clearly see an object in front of you, but not one that’s further away. Reading glasses won’t help this condition because you can usually read text in a book or on a laptop, but you might have trouble driving or focusing on a TV across the room. Myopia can be corrected with eyeglasses, contacts, or Lasik surgery. It can be an inherited condition, but environmental factors appear to play a part. For instance, myopia is most diagnosed in children ages 7-14, and there is an increased correlation in children who spend a lot of their time on screens or do not often play outside. Squinting may put children at an increased risk of developing the disorder, so forcing them to tough it out in hopes of strengthening their eyes will only make their vision worse.


Farsightedness, or hyperopia, occurs when the eyes are too short, or the cornea is too flat. People with this condition have trouble seeing things up close, but as the disease progresses, they typically also can’t see things far away. You can treat this problem with prescription glasses or contacts, but as you age it will probably get worse.

Other Conditions

Astigmatism is when the cornea is curved incorrectly, resulting in blurry vision. This can be resolved with prescription glasses or surgery. Finally, presbyopia is a completely age-related condition where the eyes lose some of their power to focus on objects up close. Everyone who lives long enough encounters this problem to some degree, although not everyone will need glasses. Reading glasses alone can help presbyopia if there are no other vision problems present.  

Blue Light Glass in laptop
Image By: Nubelson Fernandes, Unsplash

glasses divider 2 How Do You Know If You’re Wearing the Correct Glasses?

The only damage you can do to your eyes is to wear the wrong type of glasses for your needs. This is particularly worse if you’re under the age of 18. Since their eyes are still developing, it’s believed that children can actually cause vision damage by wearing the wrong pair. However, this is exclusively for myopia patients who must squint to see distant objects—not children who need reading glasses.

Reading glasses seem to be a safe investment for your vision that don’t pose any long-term risks–as long as you’ve seen a doctor to confirm what type of vision problem exists.

If you’ve picked up a pair of reading glasses from the drug store or even if you have a prescription pair, you can tell if you’ve got the right pair of lenses if they help you see better. Obviously, it’s a bit more complicated with that, so let’s start by mentioning what would happen if you don’t have the appropriate glasses for your eyes:

Image Credit: ReinhardThrainer, Pixabay
  • You get headaches, especially after reading.
  • You feel unreasonably tired.
  • You can’t focus.
  • Your vision feels blurry, or you experience double vision.

What to Do If You Think You Might Need Glasses

The signs you might need glasses are the same as the warning signs of wearing the wrong pair. If you get headaches reading, experience blurry vision, or have trouble focusing, get your eyes examined to see if you might need glasses. It’s important to go see an eye doctor and not try to self-diagnose a vision problem because having the right prescription is the key to no more headaches and eye strain.

Summing Up

While reading glasses don’t damage your vision, you could experience headaches, eye strain and other vision-related ailments if you pick up the wrong pair. It’s best to visit an eye doctor if you suspect you need glasses so that they can help you pick the right glasses for your eyes only.

Featured Image Credit: Image Point Fr, Shuttertock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.