Eyeglasses That Do the Job

Have you been wearing the same pair of eyeglasses every day for work, sports, hobbies, driving, reading, and/or watching TV? If so, you may not be getting all the vision help glasses can offer.

Here's where you can learn about the different types of lenses available in eyeglasses for various lifestyle activities.

How Do Eyeglasses Sharpen Vision?

Eyes with vision problems do not focus light where they should. Eyeglass lenses change the direction of light entering the eyes so that it focuses properly on a special part of the back of the eye known as the retina.

How Often Do You Need a New Prescription for Eyeglasses?

Call your eye doctor for an exam if your vision changes. But you should also expect to have eye exams regularly as an essential part of maintaining healthy vision. This is especially important since your eye doctor also checks for eye diseases and disorders.

The Basics of Eyeglasses

Eyeglasses may be prescribed with lenses providing:

  • One vision correction for all distances (unifocal)
  • Correction for both near and distant vision (multifocal: bifocals, trifocals, progressive, or no-line lenses)
  • Ultraviolet (UV) light protection -- a lens coating to block the sun's damaging and invisible UV rays
  • Antireflective coating to lessen light reflection off your glasses, reducing daytime glare and the nighttime "starburst" effect around lights

You may want to ask your eye doctor about other lens enhancements, such as:

  • Photochromatic lenses, which darken in situations where you'd otherwise wear sunglasses and act as "regular" eyeglasses in normal (usually indoor) light
  • Scratch protection (recommended for plastic lenses)
  • Tints -- typically cosmetic but also useful for people whose eyes are sensitive to light

Eyeglass frame styles change with fashion. Frames may be made from:

  • Plastic
  • Plain metal
  • A combination of plastic and metal
  • "Specialty" metals such as titanium and carbon graphite, both highly damage resistant

Eyeglass alert! Your new eyeglasses should feel -- well, almost as if you aren't wearing them! They shouldn't rub uncomfortably against your ears or nose, fall off easily, or otherwise not feel "right." Of course, allow a reasonable amount of time for getting used to them. However, if problems persist, let your eye doctor know.


Eyeglasses for Different Activities

Some activities may call for wearing special eyeglasses. For example:

Computer work. Especially after age 40, spending long hours staring at a computer screen and focusing the eyes at specific distances may lead to eyestrain. Some eye doctors treat this problem with eyeglasses, prescribing either:

  • A different prescription for a person who already wears eyeglasses
  • A prescription for eyeglasses for someone who doesn't otherwise wear them

When indicated, the eye doctor may also recommend treatment for dry eye syndrome. When focusing intently, people tend to blink less and eyes can dry out.

Driving. Eyeglasses for driving may be:

  • Special "driving sunglasses" with polarized (partially light-blocking) lenses
  • Prescription eyeglasses with both your lens prescription for distance vision and an anti-reflective coating

Reading. Reading glasses are a good choice for people with simple presbyopia (good distance vision but difficulty reading). This eye condition develops with aging -- usually in your 40s. You might notice that your arms aren't long enough to read up close anymore. Glasses that correct presbyopia are also good for close-up hobbies, too.

Available without a prescription, cheap, one-size-fits-all, single-distance styles can be found in pharmacies and department stores. Some people can't use these because often their eyes are not exactly matched or there is an astigmatism to their eyeglass prescription. For them, prescription eyeglasses for reading are best.

Eyeglasses alert! Never buy nonprescription reading glasses as a substitute for seeing your eye doctor. Regular eye exams check more than your vision. They also check the ongoing health of your eyes.

Sports. Some 90% of sports-related injuries are preventable with use of protective eyewear. These include:

  • Sports goggles with impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses, commonly used for playing basketball, baseball/softball (on the field), field hockey, women's lacrosse, racquet sports, and soccer
  • Polycarbonate shields (or wire face guards), used, for example, in baseball/softball (batting) and football

Eyeglasses alert! Don't wear your everyday eyeglasses when you play sports. "Regular" eyeglasses don't meet sports eyewear's higher safety standards and neither do contact lenses or safety eyewear used in industry. Ask your eye doctor's advice about sports eye protection.


At work. Eye injuries can happen at any workplace. Industries where they are most common include:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining

Government standards require employers to evaluate the workplace for possible eye hazards and provide equipment -- including appropriate protective eyewear -- and surroundings to ensure that any such hazards are minimized or eliminated.

To meet the government standards, all protective eyewear must have "Z87" or "Z87+" (the "+" indicates safety eyewear with impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses) marked on the frame and sometimes on the lens as well.

All safety eyewear should be comfortable to wear as well as properly fitted. Types of safety eyewear may include:

  • Goggles, which are more impact resistant than safety glasses
  • Safety glasses with side protection/shields
  • Face shields, including welding helmets
  • Full-face respirators incorporating face shields

At home. Protective eyewear can help prevent eye injury from many hazards around the house. These include:

  • Household chemicals
  • Workshop activities
  • Gardening and lawn work
  • Car repair or maintenance tasks

In any situation where you injure your eye(s), get medical attention immediately.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Alan Kozarsky, MD on January 18, 2015



American Academy of Ophthalmology web site, "Correcting Your Vision With Glasses and Contacts."

American Academy of Ophthalmology web site, "When to See an Eye M.D."

American Academy of Ophthalmology web site, "Introduction to Eyeglasses: Lens Design."

American Academy of Ophthalmology web site, "Introduction to Eyeglasses: Lens Enhancements."

American Academy of Ophthalmology web site, "Introduction to Eyeglasses: Frames."

American Optometric Association web site, "Criteria for Determining Whether the Need for Eyeglasses or Other Treatment Is Related to Computer Use."

AllAboutVision.Com web site, "Specialty Eyewear: Glasses for All Seasons, for All Reasons."

American Optometric Association web site, "Care of the Patient With Presbyopia."

New York Times.Com web site, "Need Reading Glasses? Welcome to Middle Age."

American Academy of Ophthalmology web site, "Play Sports Safely - Use Eye Protection."

HealthyVision2010.Org web site, "Eye Safety at Work Is Everyone's Business."

American Academy of Ophthalmology web site, "Eye Injury Prevention."

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