What are distance glasses?

So, you’ve heard about distance glasses.

But what do they do? And why are they different from reading glasses?


Distance glasses are a type of single vision lens used to correct nearsightedness (myopia.) These concave lenses improve your ability to see distanced objects using a minus (-) dioptric power throughout the entire lens.


In short, distance glasses and reading glasses are actually both single vision lenses, but they provide very different ocular functions.

To get a better understanding, this article explains their separate purposes and which lenses are best to help you see.


How do I know if I need distance glasses?


Example of a nearsighted eye prescription


Recently had your eyes tested?

You’ll know if you need distance glasses by looking at the Sphere boxes on your prescription paper for each of your eyes. If they contain negative numbers (-) this means you are myopic and require optical correction for distance vision.

Alternatively, your Sphere boxes may contain positive numbers (+) which means you’re hyperopic and have difficulty seeing objects close-up. If you need help understanding your prescription, here’s a handy guide.

However, if you’ve never had your eyes examined, you can check your distance vision using this printable test.


Free eye test chart

Eye test chart for printing and using at home

Download this eye test chart to test your distance vision yourself.




Can I use distance glasses for reading?


Distance glasses provide an entirely different function than reading glasses.

Distance glasses are used for myopia to correct distance vision which is anything beyond arm’s length. Reading glasses are used for hyperopia and presbyopia to correct close vision with 35cm from your face.

These types of glasses provide opposing visual corrections therefore you cannot use distance glasses for close vision tasks such as reading, writing or using your phone.


Is it bad to wear distance glasses for reading?

Because distance glasses only help your vision for objects far away, they don’t impede your ability to see things close-up and have no negative impact.

The same goes for reading glasses. If you struggle with close vision, reading glasses will only help you with close distance tasks within 35cm from your face.

To give you better context, here’s a handy guide to what is the normal reading distance compared to intermediate and distance vision.


Close vision

Focusing within 35 cm from your face.

Common tasks include reading from paper documents or books, using your phone or handwriting.

Correction: To help your close vision, you can use short distance glasses such as reading glasses and/or bifocals, trifocals or varifocals.


Intermediate vision

Focusing at arm’s length.

Common tasks include using a computer or reading a noticeboard. These zone is the region between close and distance vision.

Correction: To help your intermediate vision, you can use intermediate glasses and/or bifocals, trifocals or varifocals.


Distance vision

Focusing beyond arm’s length.

Common tasks include watching television, driving or playing sports.

Correction: To help your intermediate vision, you can use distance glasses and/or bifocals, trifocals or varifocals.



Shop single vision distance glasses


Young man wearing black frame distance glasses


Distance and reading glasses combined

Need help seeing close-up AND far away?

Sorry to break it to you, but single vision lenses just entered the equation. Yep, now we’re talking multifocal lenses.

Remember the three vision zones? Close, intermediate and distance.

These lenses are designed to help you with near, intermediate and distance vision, all in one pair of glasses. This differentiates single vision from multifocal glasses. They’re a one trick pony.

  • Single vision glasses include: Ready readers, prescription reading glasses, intermediate glasses or distance glasses.
  • Multifocal glasses include: Bifocal, trifocal or varifocal glasses (also known as progressives.)



Single vision lenses define a single vision-zone lens which can be used individually to correct near, intermediate or distance vision.

Distance glasses utilise a negative (-) Sphere power measured in dioptres. This measurement is found in the first boxes on your prescription paper for each of your eyes.

Distance glasses do not negatively affect your close vision, nor do reading glasses impede your distance vision.

Thanks for stopping by.


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