Computer Glasses and Readers: Which do you need? | Axon Optics

What’s The Difference between Computer Glasses and Readers?

Glasses are glasses are glasses, right? Well, not exactly. When it comes to computer glasses and readers, there are some pretty significant differences. It may be a little tough sometimes to figure out which you need at a given time. This brief guide will help you better understand your eyeglass options as well as when you need computer glasses or when readers might be a better option.

difference between computer glasses and readers, eyeglasses information

Computer Glasses: Reduce eye strain and lessen screen glare

If you spend any amount of time working on a computer to doing things on your electronic devices like a tablet or smartphone, you may find that your eyes get tired or blurry after a while. This is because the light that comes from these screens makes your eyes work harder to see contrast. This light is often called “blue light” and it can be very hard on your eyes. In fact, experts recommend giving your eyes a break ever so often, such as using the 20-20-20 Rule or just walking away for a while.

People who are sensitive to light are usually more susceptible, but even people who don’t have any problem with light sensitivity will feel the effects after prolonged use. This can lead to migraine, headache, watery eyes, and other discomforts.

Computer glasses have a special anti-reflective coating or tint that blocks the blue light, lessening the strain on your eyes. They can be prescription or non-prescription. Many types have a special tinting that cuts the glare while increasing the contrast. These precision tinted lenses can help prevent headaches and migraine associated with computer use.

Readers: Bringing small print into full focus

If you read print books and find that you have difficulty focusing or your eyes get tired quickly, then readers may be what you need. While computer glasses deal with the glare of the screen, all reading glasses do is magnify the print so your eyes don’t have to work so hard to read it. Eye strain can cause your eyes to be itchy and watery. It can even lead to migraine or headaches.

Reading glasses can be a prescription, especially if you have an astigmatism or other issue with your eyes, but there are also the over the counter magnification glasses. Those work just fine for most people. The lenses are categorized by several magnification strengths. You just have to find which is best for you. These lenses do not have any type of coating though, so they don’t protect your eyes from the unique glare of a computer screen. If you purchase prescription reading glasses, you can often get an anti-reflective coating for the computer and even one that darkens automatically when they are exposed to bright lights.

Woman wearing reading glasses

Computer Glasses vs Reading Glasses

Computer glasses are not recommended for reading and reading glasses are not usually recommended for using a computer. This is mainly because your computer screen is several inches away from your eyes, while a book is usually much closer. Add to that the blue light emitted by the computer screen and you have two environments that are quite different and using the glasses in ways they weren’t meant to be used can lead to eye strain.

Choosing  prescription glasses with blueblocking tint will make your experience on the computer much more enjoyable while readers can reduce eye strain when you are reading books or physical documents. If you have light sensitivity, glasses with tinted prescription lenses like Axon Optics’ migraine glasses can help. They may also double as readers or computer glasses.

An eye exam is typically the first step in determining what type of glasses you need. It will identify any problems you may have with your eyes, plus it will ensure that you get the exact magnification that you need.

Lenses vs Lens Treatments

When it comes to how your glasses to perform, the lenses are what makes the difference. Both computer glasses and readers have lenses that are carefully crafted to carry out a specific function.

Vision correcting lenses are often prescription lenses, although many reading glasses do not require a prescription. Bifocals, progressives, and no-line bifocals fall in this category as well and it is possible to get them with readers on the bottom portion of the lense. Computer glasses can be vision correcting with your regular prescription, with a graded magnification, or with no vision correction at all.

Tinting is a process that is applied to lenses. Whether you are getting tinted lens treatment for light sensitivity and migraine or blueblockers for computer lens treatment, they are applied to the lenses and are appropriate for prescription, magnification, or plain lens.

Axon Optics’ precision tinted lenses for light sensitivity and migraine are not the same as the blueblocking lenses in computer glasses. Blueblockers are for anyone who may experience eye strain after looking at LED screens on tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices.

The precision tinted lenses from Axon Optics are actually more effective than standard blueblocking computer glasses because they block more blue light. This may be at least part of the reason that they are so effective for treating light sensitivity and migraine. There are several studies that support this tint’s ability to help with light sensitivity as well as blocking blue light.

People who have light sensitivity or who have migraines that are triggered by light will likely get relief with Axon Optics’ lenses and they can enjoy the extra benefits of the glasses blocking blue light. People who are not light sensitive will probably find that a classic bluelight blocker works just fine for them.

Man wearing computer glasses while on laptop

What You Need to Know about Bluelight and Blueblocking Lenses

What is Blue Light?

Once upon a time, before computers and electronic devices, people were only exposed to blue light when they were out in the sun. As technology has become more and more integrated into our lives with smartphones, tablets, computers, and other devices, blue light exposure has increased exponentially. The best way to minimize exposure is to minimize time on devices, but that isn’t likely to happen. Incidentally, blue light is also the reason that many people have trouble falling asleep after being on their computer or smartphone. It tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime.

What are the Effects of Blue LIght Exposure?

There are three areas where long term, consistent blue light exposure has a significant impact.

Eye Strain and Fatigue – The Vision Council’s Digital Eye Strain Report, published in 2016, showed that more than 34% of adults experience eye strain due to digital device use. The connection between eye strain and blue light lies in how the light behaves and how the eyes react to it. When bluelight passes through the lens of the eye, it moves across the front of the retina in a spray or scatter pattern, creating a glare or chromatic effect. The eye has to work a lot harder to process light in this pattern, and the longer it is exposed, the harder it has to work and the more fatigued and strained it gets.

Visual Impairment – Bluelight is different from UV light. Bluelight moves through the eye all the way to the retina while UV light does not. When this happens, there is a photo-oxidative reaction that affects the retina cells that begins the moment the blue light hits them. This can lead to an accumulation of toxins which can lead to impaired vision.

Sleep Problems – In a human’s most natural state, their sleep/wake cycle is regulated by sunlight. In fact, it is the blue light that is naturally occurring in sunlight that triggers a chemical process that halts the secretion of melatonin and signals the body that it is time to wake up. Melatonin is what signals the body to get ready to go to sleep. When a person is on their electronic device, the bluelight that is emitted from the screen tricks the brain into believing that it is daytime which means it does not produce melatonin. This can lead to sleep problems and poor quality sleep.

How can computer glasses help?

The special coating on the lenses of computer glasses will either deflect the bluelight or absorb it. Lenses that deflect the bluelight are tinted and may appear purple or blue. They do just what the name implies, they act as a barrier between the eye and the source of the bluelight, deflecting it. Lenses that absorb the bluelight are usually yellow. They also act as a barrier between the source of the light and the eye.

Computer Glasses and Readers: Which do You Need?

Deciding which type of glasses are best for you isn’t always an easy task. This quiz will help you decide if you need computer glasses or reading glasses.

  1. When I read, I tend to:
    1. Use my Kindle or other tablet
    2. Read from a print book
    3. I avoid reading or working on my device because lights bother me
    4. Both
  2. My eyes get most tired when:
    1. I use my computer
    2. I read books
    3. I try to read in a brightly lit room or outside
    4. Both
  3. My eyes get tired, itchy, watery, dry, or painful when:
    1. I’ve been on my computer for a while
    2. When I’ve been reading from a book for a while
    3. I am in a brightly lit area
    4. Both
  4. I find it is difficult to focus:
    1. On my computer screen
    2. On words on a page
    3. Either situation because the light bothers me
    4. Both
  5. A get headaches or migraine:
    1. When I use my computer, especially for a long time.
    2. When I try to read a book.
    3. When I am exposed to bright lights
    4. Both

If you answered:

  • Mostly a’s, then you may want to look into computer glasses.
  • Mostly b’s, then reading glasses are probably just what the doctor ordered.
  • Mostly c’s, you may have a problem with light sensitivity and precision tinted glasses like Axon Optics’ migraine glasses, with or without a prescription, may be right for you.
  • Mostly d’s, then you should see your eye doctor to get an exam and then get a pair of  prescription glasses with blueblocking coating or our precision tinted Axon Optics’ lenses.

At Axon we have a wide selection of tinted lenses designed to protect against light sensitivity and computer glare. Choose a prescription, non-prescription, or tinted contacts and get relief from eye strain due to prolonged digital device use.


13 thoughts on “What’s The Difference between Computer Glasses and Readers?

    • Lori Glover says:

      Yes! Axon glasses absolutely help with phone and computer light. Actually, our lenses protect from a wider range of harmful light than any blue blocker or yellow lens. You can compare blue-light blocking products and blue-light emitters at

    • Lori Glover says:

      Yellow lenses are not the same as Axon eyewear:

      Yellow lenses are for general eye fatigue caused by computer screens. They are for the general population.
      Axon Optics lenses are for photophobia and migraine. They are specifically for those who suffer from these illnesses.

      Yellow lens tints may make an environment appear brighter and may reduce eye fatigue, but have not been shown to be effective for those with migraine or light sensitivity. Axon Optics is the only provider that has clinical research linked to the effectiveness of our lens for migraine relief and light sensitivity. You can read more about the studies at

  1. Khorae Olivier says:

    I like what you said about how reading glasses can be prescribed due to astigmatism and other things and others can also be bought at an ordinary drug store over the counter. My mom is getting older and looking to get herself some reading glasses but hasn’t decided if she wants to try a pair from the drug store or get a full prescription. Thank you for the information about how reading glasses over the counter don’t get any bells and whistles like anti-reflective coating. She might need that since she’s on her tablet a lot.

  2. Tess says:

    I currently wear both glasses and contacts. I am past due for my yearly eye exam, However due to my migraines, I have been unable to make it to my yearly eye exam and have had to post pone it twice. When I originally went – the eye test gave me a severe migraine. My neurologist has said to hold off on the eye exam for now until my migraines are under control. I am at a lost at what to purchase, the Axon contacts or eyewear. My prescription is very high in the 7.00 for contacts.

    • Lori Glover says:

      I recommend trying our Cover Rx fitover frame first so you can determine if our product is effective for you. This frame might be of use during your exam also. We are happy to work with you and your provider so that you get the best product possible. Feel free to email [email protected] any updates regarding your appointment.

  3. Tamy says:

    I need both prescription reading and computer glasses. Can I get one pair of glasses for both prescriptions (progressive lenses)? Are there any significant pros or cons? I already have a pair of glasses for distance and would prefer to avoid having 3 separate pairs of glasses. Thank you.

    • Lori Glover says:

      Yes, we accept progressive orders. However, the prescription needs to be written specifically for the selected frame. This means the frame must be present at the fitting. We recommend buying the frame locally. The prescription needs to include the PD and seg height for that specific frame (not a seg height on file). Make sure the optician adjusts the frame for a perfect fit before taking measurements. Also, if you have not already tried the tint, we recommend trying the Cover Rx frame first because prescription orders are not refundable. Email [email protected] for more information.

  4. Eyewear says:

    I am not positive the place you are getting your info,
    but good topic. I must spend a while learning much more or figuring out
    more. Thanks for excellent info I used to be
    looking for this information for my mission.

  5. Brad says:

    I’m not sure I understand why there is a difference between computer reading glasses and regular reading glasses and why computer reading glasses can’t be used as regular readers. If the only thing that computer readers have is the blue light blocking ability then why can’t you use them to read with? At work I have to go back and forth between my computer and reading printed documents. You can’t change glasses every time you have to look away from the computer screen

    • Lori Glover says:

      People often use the term “computer glasses” to mean a progressive lens that only has near and intermediate vision correction. Computer glasses do not necessarily have blue blocking built into the lens. Regular progressive lenses have near, intermediate and distance. A “reader” has magnification across the entire lens and is typically for near vision. However, a milder reader can certainly be used for intermediate use. Our tint is not for mainstream blue blocking, but blocks the portion of the light spectrum most associated with light sensitivity and migraine. Feel free to email [email protected] for additional assistance.

  6. Sean says:

    Since having refractive surgery some years ago to improve my long range vision, I’ve been having issues with my eyes becoming red and inflamed after long periods in front of a computer screen.
    In addition, immediately after sleeping and for an hour or so after waking, I’m finding difficulty in reading small script both on computer screen and in general.
    So, my first question relates to whether the refractive surgery is partly responsible for this and my second question is what kind of glasses do you recommend which will alleviate the problem.

    • Lori Glover says:

      We have a lenient return policy on all nonprescription frames so you can determine if the tint is effective for you. The indoor lens is perfect for the long periods in front of a computer screen.

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