Eyeglasses That Do the Job

Medically Reviewed by Whitney Seltman, OD on March 06, 2023
4 min read

Do you wear the same pair every day for work, sports, hobbies, driving, reading, and watching TV? You may be able to get more out of your glasses if you try more than one pair. There are many different types of lenses for various lifestyle activities.

When you have refractive vision problems, your eyes don’t focus light where they should. Eyeglass lenses change the direction at which light enters your eyes. That lets them focus it where it’s supposed to go: on a special part of the back of your eye called the retina.

That depends on whether your eyes change or not. Call your eye doctor when you notice a difference. The key is to get eye exams regularly. It’s a major part of keeping your eyes healthy. The doctor will also check for diseases and disorders.

You’ll need them every couple of years from ages 18 to 60, unless you have a disease like diabetes that can affect your eyes. Your doctor may tell you to come more often. When you turn 61, you should start going every year. 

Lenses: Your glasses may have:

  • Monofocal lenses: One vision correction for all distances
  • Multifocal (bifocal, trifocal, progressive, or no-line) lenses: Correct both near and distant vision
  • Ultraviolet (UV) protection: A lens coating that blocks the sun's damaging and invisible UV rays
  • Antireflective lens coating: Lessens light reflection off your glasses, and reduces daytime glare and the nighttime "starburst" effect around lights

You may want to ask your eye doctor about other features like:

  • Photochromatic lenses: They darken in situations where you'd otherwise wear sunglasses but act as regular eyeglasses in normal (usually indoor) light.
  • Scratch protection: They’re recommended for plastic lenses.
  • Tints: They’re mostly just for looks, but they can help if your eyes are sensitive to light.
  • Blue light blocking filters: if you work on the computer a lot, decreasing the amount of blue light exposure can help lessen eye strain. 

Frames: Styles change with fashion. They can be made from:

  • Plastic
  • Plain metal
  • A mix of plastic and metal
  • Specialty metals like titanium and carbon graphite -- both are highly damage resistant

Fit: Your new specs should feel almost as if you aren't wearing them. They shouldn't rub against your ears or nose, fall off easily, or just not feel right. Give yourself enough time to get used to them. If problems don’t go away, tell your eye doctor.

Some activities may call for special glasses:

Computer work: Once you hit 40, it’s easy to get eyestrain. It can come from long hours staring at a computer screen or focusing and refocusing at different distances. If you already wear glasses, the doctor may give you a special pair for the computer. If you don’t wear them now, they may tell you it’s time.

They may also recommend treatment for dry eye syndrome. When you focus intently, you blink less and your eyes can dry out.

Driving: Your options include:

  • Special "driving sunglasses" with polarized lenses to block the light
  • Glasses with both your lens prescription for distance vision and an anti-reflective coating

Reading: These are a good choice if you have simple presbyopia (good distance vision but trouble up close). This happens as you age -- usually in your 40s. You might notice that your arms aren't long enough to read up close anymore. These glasses can be good for close-up hobbies, too.

What about those one-size-fits-all readers you find at the drugstore or department store? They’re OK for most of us, but they may not work for you if your eyes aren’t exactly matched or if you have astigmatism. Never use them as a stand-in for an eye doctor visit.

Sports: Protective eyewear can prevent almost all sports-related injuries:

Sports goggles with impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses: You can use them for basketball, baseball and softball (fielding), field hockey, women's lacrosse, racket sports, and soccer.

Polycarbonate shields (or wire face guards): Used, for example, in baseball and softball (batting), and football

Don't wear your everyday eyeglasses during sports. They aren’t as safe. Contacts can be worn, but you should also wear sports goggles if you're doing a high-risk sport.

On the job: Eye injuries can happen at any workplace, but they’re most common in:

  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining

Government standards require employers to evaluate the workplace for possible eye hazards and provide equipment that will keep you safe. This includes protective eyewear.

To meet these standards, protective eyewear must have "Z87" or "Z87+" (the "+" indicates safety eyewear with impact-resistant polycarbonate lenses) marked on the frame. You may find it on the lens as well.

Safety eyewear should be comfortable and fit well. It can include:

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

At home: Protective eyewear can help prevent eye injury from:

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

If you injure your eye(s), get medical attention immediately.