Computer Glasses vs Reading Glasses: Which Do You Need?

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Computer Glasses vs Reading Glasses: Which Do You Need?

Glasses are glasses, right? Not always. 

When it comes to computer glasses vs reading glasses, they are very similar. In fact, some people use reading glasses as computer glasses.  The primary difference comes down to how far away the object is from your eyes. 

The other difference is that computer glasses often come with a tint or a special coating that helps filter irritating light that comes from computer screens. 

Let’s quickly summarize the different types of glasses you might wear for using a computer, reading, and regular activities.

  • Computer glasses: Use for lit digital screens, an average of 24 inches from your eyes
  • Reading glasses: Use for reading printed books or documents, held an average of 15 inches from your eyes
  • Regular glasses: Use for general vision correction; in single vision or bifocal / progressive based on prescription
  • FL-41 glasses: Use for protection against harmful light, or to reduce light sensitivity or migraine

A note about FL-41 glasses. While many people wouldn’t know these under the name of “computer glasses,” the special tint they are coated with helps to filter out specific types of light. This includes the light from lit digital screens. At Axon Optics, we make an advanced version of FL-41 glasses that have been shown to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of people who are sensitive to bright light (a condition called photophobia) or migraine.

Keep reading to learn why this protection could be important.

Computer Glasses: Reduce eye strain and lessen screen glare

When you work on your computer, do you feel eye strain, pinching between the nose, pressure on your temples, or headaches? If so, you may benefit from computer glasses. There are a couple contributing factors to these symptoms:

Factor 1 | Eye strain: First, your eyes could be working too hard to stare at a set distance for long periods of time. You may need some magnification to make things easier and avoid eye strain.  Computer glasses are a dedicated pair of glasses with a magnification power. The magnification is designed to relieve eye strain while looking at an object that is about the distance of your computer screen, about 24 inches. They relieve the muscle tension inside the eye, and keep the muscles outside the eye from having to overwork, which may cause them to tire from staring at the same close distance for so long.

Dr. Joseph Allen of the Buffalo Eye Clinic says, “I like to compare this to lifting weights. Our eyes aren’t really meant to hold our [gaze] at a certain distance for so long. It’s kind of like lifting a 20 pound weight and trying to hold it there for as long as you can. Eventually your muscles are going to get tired. Computer glasses essentially lower the weight down so maybe you are holding a 5 pound weight instead of a 20.”

With the right magnification, your eyes won’t have to work so hard to see what you’re working on. 

Factor 2 | Irritating light: Second, the blue light generated by the screen may make your eyes work harder to see contrast, which can be very hard on them. 

Overexposure to blue light may lead to migraines, headaches, watery eyes, and other discomforts. A coating or tint that helps filter out the blue light can be added to any kind of lens. Often called blue light glasses, these are designed to reduce eye strain from blue light.

However, blue light glasses are not necessarily computer glasses. While you could order your computer glasses with or without anti-blue-light coating, the right magnification is what computer glasses are all about. 

Readers: Bringing small print into full focus

Woman wearing reading glasses

Computer Glasses vs Reading Glasses: Two different scenarios

Most people need a different level of magnification for close-up reading than for using a computer, which is usually set further back. Using the wrong pair of glasses for your situation could actually add to eye strain. 

  • Use computer glasses when using a digital screen which is around 24 inches away from your eyes. You may choose to use computer glasses that have blue-light filtering.
  • Use reading glasses when reading books or printed documents, which are usually held much closer, about 15 inches. You won’t need the blue light filtering if this is how you read.

A Word of Caution About Blue Light Glasses

Blue light glasses are often part of this conversation because both reading glasses and computer glasses might have the blue blocker coating added as an option, if you like. However, you can also buy blue blockers that have no magnification at all. You might use these when you can see your TV or computer just fine, but simply want to reduce your blue light exposure. 

Because the blue light generated by computer monitors and other digital screens can be hard on your eyes, prolonged exposure can lead to symptoms like dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and sleep disruptions. The blue light glasses often used to lessen exposure to blue light are not the same as Axon Optics’ precision tinted lenses. 

Blue blockers are designed for anyone who may experience eye strain after looking at LED screens on tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices — not necessarily for light sensitive people. And as you’ll read in this article, recent study raises questions about their effectiveness. 

If you have light sensitivity or want to filter out harmful light with or without a vision prescription, Axon Optics’ photophobia glasses are likely to help. They can reduce eye strain and photophobia symptoms like dry eye, migraine, squinting, nausea, and more. 

Axon Optics precision tinted lenses are very different from blue light blockers, and are more effective at blocking painful light. This is because they specifically block blue and amber light, which are actually shown to be the harmful kinds. This may be why they’re so effective for treating light sensitivity and migraine

Even people who are not light sensitive will probably get more relief from Axon Optics lenses than most blue blocker computer glasses.

Computer Glasses and Readers: Which do You Need?

As you can see, deciding which type of glasses are best for you isn’t always an easy task. Take the quiz below to help you decide if you need computer glasses or reading glasses.

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.


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15 thoughts on “Computer Glasses vs Reading Glasses: Which Do You Need?

    • 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. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Carol says:

    regarding the sentence “Reading glasses: Use for reading printed books or documents, held an average of 15 minutes from your eyes” — don’t you mean 15 INCHES instead of minutes

  7. Erin says:

    Thank you for this! I honestly didn’t know the difference between computer glasses and blue light blockers and 0x readers! I have tried several different kinds of glasses to assist with light sensitivity, and yellow light glasses indeed used to help with fatigue, before I became very light-sensitive. It helps so much to understand this.

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