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Good computer glasses are worth it — if you know what to look for

Young woman wearing glasses works on a laptop outdoors

Like regular glasses, computer glasses are available in a range of prices. The cost will depend on several factors, including whether they have prescription lenses, special lens coatings and light filtration, and which brand of frame you choose. 

If you purchase computer glasses from an optician or optical store, you can have your lenses put in nearly any frame style to best suit your face shape.  

Nonprescription computer glasses with basic frames are more affordable, and you can usually find them with the nonprescription reading glasses at retail stores. Prescription computer glasses with high-end frames are more expensive, but the prices are comparable to other prescription glasses. 

The lenses in computer glasses are designed to reduce eye strain caused by long periods of computer use. If your days include a lot of screen time, investing in a pair of computer glasses may be a great idea. But how do you know if you need them? And how do you know which kind you need?

Computer glasses and computer vision syndrome

If you suffer from general eye fatigue or headaches after prolonged screen time, computer glasses could help.

Our eyes have a harder time focusing on the digital letters and images on a screen than they do on printed words or images. Since letters and images on the screen are made up of tiny pixels, their edges are much less defined. Our brains can interpret this as blur, even if we aren’t aware of it, causing our eyes to strain to try to bring things into focus.

After a few hours of this type of eye strain, we can experience achy and dry eyes, headaches, loss of focus, blurred vision or double vision, or even ocular migraines. This is called computer vision syndrome, or digital eye strain.

Computer vision syndrome can develop in anyone who spends a lot of time looking at a screen. Even if you don’t need prescription glasses, computer glasses could still be helpful.

Very slight refractive errors can be imperceptible in our day-to-day lives, but our eyes are still straining a little to compensate for them. If your eyes need to strain even a little to focus on the computer, and you’re at the computer all day, this can lead to eye fatigue.

For people who already wear prescription glasses, it could be even more important to invest in a pair of prescription computer glasses. Using your intermediate vision for long periods of time while wearing lenses designed for near or distance vision can make eye strain worse.

This is particularly true if you currently wear progressive lenses or other multifocal lenses (bifocals or trifocals) for presbyopia. Multifocal lenses have a very limited viewing area for intermediate vision, which is what you need to see your computer screen clearly. 

Purchasing computer glasses that have the entire viewing area of the lenses customized for this distance is very comforting to the eyes during screen time for anyone with presbyopia. 

Plus, the benefits of computer glasses go beyond keeping digital eye strain and headaches at bay. Studies have shown that wearing appropriate computer glasses can increase work productivity by as much as 20%, even for workers who don’t typically wear prescription lenses. 

WANT TO LEARN MORE? Check out these articles about digital eye strain.

Choosing computer glasses

Choosing a pair of computer glasses could be a little confusing, considering the many types of lenses available. 

You’ve probably heard of anti-reflective lenses, anti-glare lenses, blue-light filtering lenses and maybe even contrast-enhancing lenses. Often, these terms are used interchangeably, both with each other and with the term “computer glasses.”

Most importantly, though, true computer glasses should optimize your intermediate vision — that range of 20 to 26 inches in front of your eyes. This is the typical distance that most of us sit from our computer screens. 

Even if you don’t have presbyopia, you may benefit from computer glasses that provide a mild magnifying effect for your intermediate vision, making it easier to focus on your screen. Prescription computer glasses lenses provide the exact amount of correction you need for your screen distance.

A good pair of computer glasses will also have lenses with contrast-enhancing tint and anti-reflective coatings. Adding a slight tint to the lenses gives more definition to digital words and images, and anti-reflective coatings help cut down on distracting reflections, for example, from harsh overhead lighting.

Some computer glasses may also filter blue light. It’s important to note that many of the computer glasses sold in stores are actually blue light glasses without any magnification, tint or anti-reflective coating. Make sure you check the product descriptions for the type of lens you want.

For the most effective computer glasses that are customized for your needs, consult an eye care professional.

CONCERNED ABOUT BLUE LIGHT AND YOUR KIDS’ SCREEN TIME? Read about kid’s blue light glasses here.

Are computer glasses worth the cost?

Computer glasses are well worth the investment if digital eye strain is negatively affecting your overall quality of life. 

Digital eye strain and computer vision syndrome can be real problems for people who are required to spend their days at a computer. They can also take a lot of enjoyment away from people who spend long hours online gaming or socializing.

Even if you don’t think your eye strain is that bad, you may be surprised at how much more comfortable you could be without it. If you’re not sure that computer glasses are right for you, try out these tips for reducing digital eye strain. If they don’t help you get relief from your symptoms, computer glasses might be the solution.

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