Iris Classon
Iris Classon - In Love with Code

Stupid Question 150: RE Q141 is there any difference between modern prescription glasses and computer glasses?

[To celebrate my first year of programming I will ask a ‘stupid’ questions daily on my blog for a year, to make sure I learn at least 365 new things during my second year as a developer]

This is not the pair I’m getting-, just toooo much I reckon. But a pair has been ordered. Turns out I need prescription glasses :(

After struggling with migraines, headaches, dizziness and nausea combined with a wry neck I decided to take the advice I had gotten on the stupid question 141, Stupid Question 141: Do computer glasses work?. I went ahead and got an exam. How I ended up doing it was an interesting story. I was standing in line at the grocery store at a large shopping center, and was looking at the reading glasses. ‘Wonder if I need a pair?’, I tried them on and my husband that looked extremely bored after a three-hour-shopping session commented that i should just do a check instead. ‘Well, I don’t think they do drop in’s here’ I answered and put the glasses back. A lady, mid 50’s or so, she looked homeless and talked with a slur that gave away that she was probably struggling with some sort of substance abuse, looked up at me (she was a head shorter than me) at said ‘Oh they do, they do drop-in here. You should really go have an exam’. She had the largest- and weirdest, smile I had seen, ever. I didn’t know what to reply, the whole situation was a little odd. I paid for my energy drinks and decided, okay, let’s see if I can have that exam today. One hour later I was sitting in the optometrist office. ‘Cover your left eye and read..’ ‘Sure, Z, S, N and O’. ‘Now the other eye’. As soon as I covered the right eye the text blurred out, I felt slightly dizzy and couldn’t focus. What the? ‘Let me try that again..’ 30 minutes later I was paying for prescription glasses. Turns out I have astigmatism and hyperopia,- not a lot, but with the work I do it would be enough to trigger the migraines and what not. I made sure I asked about computer glasses, and she told me that there is no difference between modern prescription glasses and computer glasses, as most glasses today are anti-glare coated. Computer glasses were often called so, because they would be prescribed to people who usually don’t need glasses, but staring in a screen from a short distance all day was for some a problem that could be solved with prescription glasses. As for coatings to increase contrast, this was not something that was ordinary prescribed. ‘If you are using prescription glasses, you already have your computer glasses in your case’.

So I’ve shelved my Gunnar-dreams and in 7-10 days I’ll be decorating my face with some metal and glass. Let’s see how that goes.

And in short, according to my optometrist there is not difference between modern prescription glasses and computer glasses,- not usually anyway. I’ll probably ask a few more, but it sounds credible.


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Marcel Veldhuizen
2/16/2013 10:27:58 AM
Hmm, I was told once that computer glasses make it makes it easier for you eyes to focus on a nearby object for extended periods of time, because they're +1 diopter compared to regular glasses.

I don't have any myself, so no experiences to share... yet. 
Iris Classon
2/16/2013 12:18:12 PM
Reply to: Marcel Veldhuizen
yeah, I asked her about that and she said that was for people that didn't use prescription glasses but would benefit from using glasses just for work purposes. If you use prescription glasses to correct vision problems you would most likely not benefit from adding that +1 as you already will have glasses that corrects any problems. Adding and additional +1 to a corrected vision could result in headaches- she said :) 
Jaime Lyn
2/16/2013 9:25:16 PM
It depends greatly on what kind of prescription you need.  If you have an astigmatism, computer glasses will just make your fuzzy vision larger and give it a lovely tint. 
2/17/2013 1:36:53 AM
Reply to: Marcel Veldhuizen
There's two related kinds of glasses here. The "computer glasses" you refer to are, as Marcel states, optimized for close-up viewing. I have such. It's not just for people that don't use glasses normally, but also for people that have, say, astigmatism as well as presbyopia. 

In my case my normal progressive glasses, optimized for mid-to far vision, gives me only a tiny angle straight ahead where I can see reasonably closely.  Reading books is OK, since I can move the book around, but a screen becomes very tiring. So I have a separate pair made only for close-up viewing that give me a nice, wide field of vision, all across the screen or workbench. Anything beyong 1.5 meters, on the other hand, is a blur.

The second meaning of "computer glasses" is having lenses with very low glare, together with a somewhat blue-absorbent coating. Screens tend to have a rather strong blue compared to the surrounding light, so this makes it easier for the brain to find a common color temperature adjustment across the field of vision. Neither is critical, but it doesn't cost much extra and it doesn't hurt. 

ps. All fields here except the comment input itself show nothing visible when I write. Firefox on Ubuntu. ds. 
2/18/2013 5:32:17 AM
You should have taken the broken eye out and gotten an cyborg eye like the Borg have 

Resistance is futile.........mwhahahahahha 
CiCraigCrrrrrr MacDonaldCg MacDona
2/18/2013 4:19:15 PM
Reply to: Iris Classon
Craig MacDonald
Hi Iris!

Left my name and email in the comment box as the text was not showing on my screen, although the selection of the relevant text box was indicated by a darkening of the perimeter of the box. ???


Glasses are not just for the correction of the angle at which light enters the eye but also for altering the visual wavelengths of light that enter your brain for processing. You may wish to remove your glasses (to test) and alter the colour/contrast balances of your monitor to see if that contributes to your headaches etc.
Less blue, more red! (Pink has a distinct psychological effect. Did you know that?)

Here is a wee page that details this a bit more:
Gunnar Technology Eyewear.

Hope you find it interesting!
Keep up the good work! 
Judah Gabriel Himango
2/19/2013 3:37:14 PM
I just read the bit where you said you covered your right eye, then it all got blurry.

I just tried it myself and ...wth? It's all blurry out of my left eye? Reading just out of my right eye is fine, but left eye is blurry. Crap. Now I wonder if I need glasses. Ha. Thanks for the post (I guess!) 
3/13/2013 2:23:39 AM
Those glasses were fabulous! 
2/15/2017 10:30:28 AM
You did the right thing by first getting your eyes examined before you spent any money on "computer glasses" I would suggest for anyone working long hours staring at a computer monitor that they should probably being getting their eyes checked once a year and if their eyes are bothering them or they feel eye strain they should firs get their eyes examined before even considering any computer glasses. Yes the tinting may be of some value but not nearly as good as what  prescription glasses will do. Prescription glasses have AR coatings on them as well which is very good for cutting down glare and reflections. This blog was form nearly 4 years ago so by now I have a feeling your very comfortable wearing prescription glasses and seeing fine. 

Last modified on 2013-02-14