A man with glasses looking at his smartphone.

Is it actually true ...

Does everyone need reading glasses at some point?

Yes, from around the age of 40, everyone gradually has difficulty seeing clearly at close range. Why does this happen?

Michael West

Weak eyesight is particularly noticeable when reading – you have to hold your mobile phone, newspaper or book further and further away from your eyes so that the letters don’t blur. At some point, your arms simply aren’t long enough – that’s when you need to wear reading glasses.

But why does this happen? “It’s not a disease, but a natural change that comes with getting older”, says Ralf Carstens Jann, master optician at Migros subsidiary Misenso. At a young age, you can see a distant mountain peak just as clearly as a tiny insect that has settled on the back of your hand. The lens in the eye needs to curve to enable you to look at the creepy-crawly closely. It’s like the lens of a camera focusing on a detail very close by. As you get older, however, the lens in the eye gradually becomes less elastic and can no longer curve as effectively; therefore, it becomes increasingly difficult to see things close up.

Varifocal glasses are practical

“This age-related visual disorder is unpreventable”, says Jann. “And once it’s there, even eye exercises can’t reverse the process”. Fortunately, it can be easily corrected with different types of glasses or contact lenses. Classic reading glasses, called single-vision glasses, are one option. You carry them with you in a case and put them on when you want to read messages on your mobile phone or the small print on packaging at the supermarket.

But many people find it annoying when they keep on having to fumble around for glasses. In this case, varifocals that you can wear all the time are a good option. These glasses correct your defective vision in the bottom part of the lenses. At the top, you can look through these glasses as if through a window. Varifocals are also an option for short-sighted people who have always seen distant objects blurred and also find it difficult to read as they get older. In this case, the bottom part of the lenses corrects age-related long-sightedness, while the top part corrects short-sightedness.