Glasses for Computer Work vs. Glasses for Reading …

Wondering why your reading glasses don’t feel as effective for computer work as they do when you’re reading?

A pair of reading glasses are not the same as a pair of computer glasses.

A reading prescription is set at a closer focal length (approx. 40cm away from you) whereas a computer prescription may be set just for your screen distance away (generally at an arm’s length) or incorporate changes in the power across the lens to provide more flexibility from a reading distance up to 4m away from you.

When it comes to glasses for use at your workstation where you may have two or more screens, you would benefit from having a specialised pair of glasses that provides you with a range of focal lengths. By looking through different parts of the lenses, with simple eye movements rather than having to physically move closer or further from your screens, you can easily view a variety of distances clearly through this variable power design of lenses.

The lens designs typically used for deskwork and screens are known as extended reading lenses. As the name suggests the areas for reading and intermediate vision are maximised with these designs. The extended reading lenses provide wider intermediate and reading zones when compared to a multifocal lens design. A multifocal lens design will tend to provide a narrow intermediate zone and a small reading zone which suffice for everyday activities but many multifocal wearers find they must scan a lot with the intermediate portion of the lens at their screen and struggle to get comfortable reading vision. An extended lens design is recommended for these individuals.

More than one pair of glasses? That’s right!

One pair of glasses for many of us does not serve us for every single activity that we do. It is just like shoes or clothes where you don’t (shouldn’t!) wear joggers with a 3-piece-suit, nor would you go for a 10km run in thongs because this is where you need joggers.

I have many patients that have a pair of straight reading glasses that sit on their bedside for reading at night, one pair of computer glasses for home and another pair left at work, a pair of multifocal glasses (some with and some without a photochromatic coating) for everyday use, and a pair of polarised multifocal sunglasses. Most of you will find that as your sight changes with time that one pair of glasses cannot provide you with the best possible vision for every single task and this is where you can specialise. Have a chat to your Optometrist about what options would suit your needs best.



I had a 50-year-old man named Brendan come in for an examination recently.

Brendan was destroying his “nice” reading glasses by taking them to work every day where he takes them in/out of his pocket all day long, crawls under machinery out in the field with them in his pocket, and then uses the same glasses when back at his office computer.

Brendan and I had a chat about what he likes and dislikes with his current eyewear, what he does at work, and what he likes to do away from work.

Brendan ended up ordering two different sets of glasses. One was a pair of glasses that allow him to read plans when out in the field as well as for use at his computer in the office. This pair of glasses had an anti-reflective coating on the front and back surface of both lenses, beneficial for his computer use under fluorescent office lights, as well as a photochromatic coating which darkens in sunlight, for reading plans on site, and then return to clear back in his office.

Brendan also noted that his Left Eye didn’t see as well as his Right Eye for distance viewing and on testing I could improve both of Brendan’s eyes to better than 6/6 for distance with the appropriate prescription.

Brendan does a lot of driving to various mine sites and decided that having a second pair of glasses – polarised multifocal sunglasses – would be beneficial as he reports tired eyes after driving and he has noticed that he’d been squinting more over the past few months.

Brendan returned his nice reading glasses to his home, keeps his safety glasses in his car, and loves his new polarised multifocal sunglasses for work and when he’s out fishing on his boat whenever he gets the chance!

Another lens coating that is beneficial for use on digital devices is a blue light reducing anti-reflective coating. With most of us spending over two-thirds of our waking hours looking at one or more computer screens at work, our smartphones before and after work, our smartphones or tablets during lunch, and then watching TV, using your home computer/laptop and smartphones or tablets when reading in bed after work you are exposed to many blue-light emitting sources every day.

For more about blue-light reducing lenses or how you can improve your working day come in and see me at our store.


Adam Maher

Optometrist at The Eye Place

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