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Ask the Expert: Should I avoid trying reading glasses?

Answers provided by Dr. Mitchell Gossman, M.D., ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, St. Cloud

I’ve been told that I shouldn’t start wearing reading glasses because I’ll “get hooked on them.” Is this possible?

In a way…

Everyone around age 40 to 45 will start to experience problems focusing on near objects. Of course, the most common near activity is reading, but there is much more than that, such as hobbies and work.

Reading glasses can people focus on near items. People in their 40s tend to experience problems focusing on near objects, making reading glasses a helpful tool. Reading glasses do not physically affect your eyes or vision. Stock photo

Some people will obtain reading glasses or bifocals to help with this, and will swear that after they get their reading glasses they seemed to have more trouble reading without them, i.e. getting “hooked on them.” These same people will implore you not to get those reading glasses, or at least to not wear them too much, because your reading vision will get worse and make you more dependent on them!

There is no evidence whatsoever that reading glasses causes your reading ability without them to get worse.


1. Once you get the reading glasses (or bifocals) you will quickly discover what a pleasure it is to see near objects more clearly, and you’ll likely become less tolerant of struggling when not wearing them.

2. As you wear your reading glasses, your reading ability will continue to fade with time, making your near vision when the glasses are off even worse. Also, the strength of those reading glasses (or bifocal strength) will have to be increased with time also. Don’t worry, this stops worsening in your early 60s.

Neither of these factors have anything to do with the reading glasses physically affecting your eyes and vision, so go ahead and use them when you need to, and incidentally, you do no harm to your eyes if you try to read without them.

I saw an ad in a magazine saying there’s treatment available to prevent the need for reading glasses, is this worth trying?

The “See Clearly Method,” “The Bates Method,” and even eye drops have been touted to improve reading vision. Certainly, if there was an effective way, eye doctors would prescribe it.

However, there is some promising research in the area of drops that cause the pupil to constrict and improve near vision without glasses, in a similar manner to the reason why squinting also sharpens vision. However, at this time none of these are FDA approved, and a compounded drop that wouldn’t require FDA approval is not yet available. Stay tuned. In the meantime, buyer beware.

Find Out More

Dr. Mitchell Gossman is a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. The office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email

“Ask the Expert” is sponsored content (paid advertising) provided by Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. To learn how your business can promote its products and services like this, contact Sr. Perspective.

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