How to Choose Magnification of Reading Glasses

As you age, you may notice that reading becomes difficult, and the words on a page look blurry. You may find yourself holding books closer and closer to your face. When this happens, many people choose to look for reading glasses to magnify small print and make reading easier. Most pharmacies and department stores carry a selection of reading glasses, and many post a reading chart to help you determine the magnification you need. However, even without a chart, you can find the correct power for your eyes.

With a Reading Chart

Remove your glasses.

Stand 14 inches away from the reading chart.

Read each line of text until you find the line that appears blurry or out of focus.

Consult the chart to find the magnification power you need 2. The chart should list the power to the left or right of each line of text.

Test a pair of reading glasses in that magnification. The text should now appear clear.

Without a Chart

Take your age and subtract 35, then put a decimal point between the numbers of the remainder. Round that number up to the closest .25 increment. For example, a 57 year old person would subtract 35 and get 22. Place the decimal point to get 2.2 and then round up to 2.25.

Put on a pair of reading glasses with the magnification you calculated and hold some reading material at your normal reading distance, generally 12 to 17 inches.

Determine whether or not the text appears clear to you. If not, try on the next stronger magnification power and try again.

Continue testing glasses in this way until type appears clear and easily read at your normal reading distance.


You may need a different power of magnification for activities involving intricate work or reading small print.

Schedule an eye exam with a qualified optical practitioner at least once every two years as vision problems may indicate a degenerative condition such as macular degeneration.