Reading Glasses vs. Computer Glasses: Are They The Same?

reading glasses vs computer glasses

We’ve all heard of reading glasses. In fact, many of us need them, or know someone who does. However, not everyone has heard of computer glasses, or their inherent differences compared to reading glasses. Are they one and the same, or are they apples and oranges in comparison to one another? And finally, do you need computer glasses instead of - or along with - reading glasses? 
So many questions, but we’re about to get to the bottom of it all. Read along for a full comparison of reading glasses and computer glasses, which will give you a better understanding of both. Who knows? It may even give you a reason to get a checkup to determine if you’re in need of a pair in either flavor!


As the name suggests, reading glasses are primarily used for close-up tasks, such as reading books, newspapers, or documents.  They are designed to compensate for presbyopia, a condition which typically begins at age 40, forcing individuals to hold objects farther away from their faces in order to read printed words. 

Conversely, computer glasses are specifically designed for people who spend long hours working on computers or other digital screens. They aim to reduce eye strain and discomfort associated with extended time spent in front of the screen. Many of these problems have been greatly reduced over the years, thanks in large part to continuous advancements in display technology which produce higher screen refresh rates, thereby cutting down on eye strain and headaches. However, for some people, computer glasses can still serve a valuable function. 


Reading glasses are known to possess a specific focal length set at a distance of 14-16 inches (35 to 40 centimeters) from the eyes. This allows for clear vision at a close distance, which means you’ll be able to hold a book much closer to your face without the words blurring.

In contrast, computer glasses are designed for intermediate viewing distances usually around 20-26 inches (50 to 65 centimeters) from the eyes. This focal length is more suitable for the typical distance between the eyes and a computer screen. This makes sense, given the average distance a person sits in relation to a computer screen, which is much different from a book, newspaper, or even a smartphone. 


Reading glasses tend to offer single-vision lenses that correct near vision exclusively, while failing to account for other view distances. This is why they are commonly used for specific tasks, and taken off when not in use.

Computer glasses, on the other hand, often feature special lens designs to accommodate intermediate viewing distances, as well as the “primary” viewing distance. They may also possess a modified prescription that allows for clear vision in front of a computer screen, while also offering the ability to see objects in the surrounding environment without much trouble.


Today’s digital displays emit a lot of blue light, which has been linked with health issues such as sleep disruption. Therefore, computer glasses may incorporate blue light filtering technology to cut down on the amount being projected at the eyes. This is especially handy in the hours leading up to bedtime, where blue light can cause the most disruption. When the sun goes down, it’s good to put your blue light filtering computer glasses on, so you can get a good night’s rest when it’s time to hit the hay. 

Reading glasses, unless specifically designed for computer use, may not have this feature, since they are typically reserved for more traditional viewing purposes. It’s worth noting that today’s smartphone, tablet and computer operating systems do include an option to reduce blue light emitting from computer screens, but this requires manual adjustment, and may not always be preferable to a “set it and forget it” solution like computer glasses.


Computer glasses may come with a slight yellow or amber tint to enhance contrast, while reducing glare thrown from modern computer screens. This tint can help reduce eye fatigue and improve visual comfort during prolonged computer use. Reading glasses, in most cases, do not have this kind of tinting unless specifically requested for certain purposes, such as reading outdoors.


You may wish to invest in a pair of computer glasses if you spend a large amount of your day in front of a computer screen. The benefits are many, as evidenced in the points we’ve just talked about. For others, a pair of reading glasses may be all that is required, but take care when it comes to your prescription. If you divide your time between reading a favorite book, and typing out a new blog on a computer, you may need a pair of glasses that can handle both at the same time. Speak to your optometrist about whether a pair of computer glasses may be right for you.

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