If you have noticed changes in your vision recently, you may need glasses to perk up your reading ability and sight. A regular eye checkup, particularly after you attain the age of 40, will help in closely monitoring your changes in vision and receive prescriptions on time if need be.
Although you may not get time to go for an eye check up and you have concerns about your vision, you can try an online eye test or a printable at-home test to monitor your vision changes, although this may not accurately diagnose your vision. Middle-aged and older people can also purchase over-the-counter reading glasses if they have vision challenges. But only an eye doctor can accurately diagnose vision problems.
In general, you might start having problems reading small print soon after the age of 40 and the problem gradually worsen with time. Other vision challenges you might also experience include your eyes feeling tired soon after you start reading. Some people report headaches when using a computer or reading extensively. Reading eye glasses with low power can be helpful for people in their 40s while older adults in 60s tend to perform better with high power reading glasses.
Reading Glasses Strength by Age
If you are suffering from presbyopia but you don’t have a history of other refractive errors, your eye doctor may recommend over-the-counter reading glasses. In most cases, your optometrist will recommend reading glasses depending on how severe your condition is and your age.
- 40 to 44 years: A power of +0.75 to +1.00 diopters will improve your vision.
- 45 to 49 years: Normally, this group requires +1.00 to +1.50 diopters.
- 50 to 54 years: As prebyopia progresses, this age group need +1.50 to +2.00 diopters.
- 55 to 59 years: Reading glasses between +2.00 and +2.25 are recommended for this age group.
- 60 years and above: Older adults need reading glasses between +2.25 and +2.50 diopters for advanced presbyopia.
Note: Nonprescription reading glasses with a power of up to +3.00 diopters can be purchased over-the-counter. Once this convex lens number is surpassed, you should go for prescription reading glasses.
Reading glasses with corrective lenses that are too powerful can trigger problems like headaches, eye strain, and can speed up the worsening of your vision.
It’s also advisable to have several pairs of reading glasses with varying strengths to help you in performing other tasks like working on a computer, driving, or watching television.
While OTC reading glasses may help you for some time, it is a good idea to go for a comprehensive eye exam as soon as possible. The examination will help you get a prescription for glasses to restore your vision accurately based on various biological factors.
When to See an Ophthalmologist
There are instances when you should seek professional assistance from an ophthalmologist or optometrist instead of ordering over-the-counter reading glasses. They include:
- If you can’t find store or online glasses that don’t line up with your pupils. This indicates you need a custom fit.
- If there is an underlying medical condition that alters your refractive error at a higher rate than average.
- Each of your eyes needs different diopter power. Most OTC reading glasses are available with same power in each eye. However, vision changes naturally develop slightly different in each eye in most people.
- You suffer astigmatism, which cannot be corrected by the use of OTC reading glasses.
Most OTC reading glasses lack precision and are made with low-quality lenses. They can therefore cause distortions that can trigger long-term issues with your vision.
Generally, it is a good idea to contact an optometrist once in a while if you notice changes in the quality of your vision. It may indicate that you have a normal refractive error, but there could be an underlying medical condition in your eyes. A different approach to solve your problem may be necessary rather than OTC reading glasses.
Investing in an intimate relationship with your optometrist or ophthalmologist will give you a better chance to have your vision changes examined by a professional as your age advances. That is extremely crucial.
Who Should Wear Reading Glasses?
One of the oldest methods that have been used to correct vision problems is the use of eyeglasses. The eyeglasses constitute of a frame that holds a pair of plastic or glass lenses which adjust how light is retracted into your eyes to enhance your vision even if you have a refractive fault.
Glasses ranks among the top methods of eyewear to correct vision, subtracting or adding power to control farsightedness (presbyopia), nearsightedness (myopia), and astigmatism (misshapen cornea).
Although vision problems increase as we grow older, most people start experiencing refractive errors at an early age. In most cases, eye illnesses such as cataracts and glaucoma are early signs of refractive errors, and may think that his/her eyesight is worsening with old age.
Since there many causes of changing vision, it is advisable to seek the help of an optometrist to get a full eye examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Although you can get an idea about your vision changes through the internet, it is always a good idea to go for a professional examination.
Reading Glasses Prescription
When you pay an eye professional a visit, they will examine the strength of your eyes separately because changes normally happen at different rates.
To measure the power of your eye’s visual strength, optometrists and ophthalmologists use units known as diopters. These are measurements that reflect the amount of change in lens shape which will enable you to focus images clearly onto your retina. Diopter measurements are adjusted by 0.25 as the standard increment whenever your vision changes. Each eye should be referred separately.
- Oculus dexter represents the right eye and is abbreviated as RE.
- Oculus sinister refers to the left eye and is abbreviated as LE.
These names are derived from Latin root words and may appear on your prescription to point out your eyes. Other terms used by optometrists and ophthalmologists include:
- Sphere: Abbreviated as “S,” this represents your farsightedness or nearsightedness.
- Cylinder: Abbreviated in your prescription as “C,” the number represents your level of astigmatism, which shows the changes in shape of your eye from round to cylindrical.
- Axis: This reflects your degree of astigmatism and is written in full on your prescription.
Typically, these numbers are written on your prescription as S x C x Axis.
To accurately refract light in each eye, you may be prescribed different lens shape because astigmatism, hyperopia, and myopia change the cornea and the rest shape of your eye.
- For nearsightedness, the lens is thin at the center while the edges are thicker.
- For farsightedness (presbyopia or hyperopia), the lenses are convex-shaped which means they are thicker at the center and thinner at the edges.
- To correct astigmatism, the lenses may curve in one direction than the other.
When Should I go for Eye Exams?
Even if your vision is 20/20 (indicating that you can clearly see 20 feet away), it is still important to under eye exams annually. This will help to detect any vision changes at an early stage.
An annual eye examination reflects your general health and comprehensive visual tests will show any changes in your retina, cornea, fluid pressure, and other crucial parts of your eyes.
What about if you have never been diagnosed with any eye problems? It is still important get eye exams at certain frequencies as you grow older even if you haven’t had previous vision issues.
Eye Exams with Age
Eye exams from early childhood are vital because they can tell more about your general health and help to detect and treat vision problems to prevent their proliferation in the future.
During an eye examination, an ophthalmologist or optometrist will carry out a number of tests to find out if your eyes are changing, the severity of the change, and the reasons behind the changes.
- Babies: The initial eye exam should be carried out at 6 months followed by another when the baby is 12 months old.
- Children: A kid aged between 3 and 5 years should get an eye exam at least once. Another eye exam should be conducted at the age of 6 years before first grade. Children above 6 years should get a regular eye exam every year until the age of 18.
- 20 to 39 years: Go for an eye exam after every five years if you have not been diagnosed with eye conditions in the past.
- 40 to 54 years: Given that most vision changes become prevalent during this stage, you should go for eye exam every 2 to 4 years.
- 55 to 64 years: To monitor the health of your eyes for severe conditions like cataracts, regularly attend eye screening every 1 to 3 years.
- 65 years and above: Older adults should attend eye exam every 1 to 2 years to monitor any progressing eye changes.
Most people are now turning to the internet to check their eyes. Although this marks a great start, it is advisable to contact optometrists or ophthalmologists who are loaded with knowledge, tools, and experience for more comprehensive diagnoses.
Can Online and At-Home Tests Diagnose Underlying Health Conditions?
A few online charts can give you a general idea regarding your visual problems and changes. For instance, it can be possible to detect colorblindness using some online visual charts. Nevertheless, these charts are not legitimate prescription and don’t offer treatment. You will still have to visit a medical expert to find out how colorblindness is linked with your overall health.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is an organization that helps both children and adults to perform at-home tests and get the most accurate results. You should sit 10 feet away from an onscreen or a printed Snelle Eye Chart, which begins with a large letter “E,” and put down the phrases you can properly read without visually corrections. You should then cover one eye and read the phrases. Cover the other eye and record your results. Chances are that there are minor differences between your eyes.
Alternatively, you can use a printable diopter reading test, which should be held at a distance of 14 inches from your eyes. Without glasses or contact lenses, read the top line, which normally has the smallest font. Move down the chart up to where you will get a line that you can clearly read. To the number of each line, there is a number indicating the prescription power you need. If you need below +3.00, you can get your reading glasses over the counter.
Several online companies also offer online vision tests but eye professionals question their accuracy. Plus, most services will promise to forward your results to an eye professional near your residence for further review once you pay some fee. It is not a must for you to pay, but if it emerges that your vision is worse than you think, visit an eye specialist in person.
At some point, you may develop conditions like cataracts or glaucoma, which alter your vision. These conditions should be closely monitored, or you might end up going blind.
The Bottom Line
The progressive nature of vision changes becomes more evident after the age of 40, although they can start at an earlier age. Although there are at-home and online tests that can give you an idea if you have problems with your eyes, an examination by a professional is highly recommendable because it can help to find the root cause.
Mild cases of vision changes can be addressed through the help of reading glasses that can be purchased over the counter. Their suitability differs with age and your eyesight problem. However, there are specific instances where you should seek professional assistance from an optometrist or ophthalmologist for prescription reading glasses.
Even if your vision is perfect and you have never experienced vision challenges from childhood, it is important to go for regular eye checkup depending on your age.