I am a very nearsighted girl who wears contact lenses. I've discovered that the vision correction they afford me for seeing into the distance comes at a price: I don't see so well right up close. Small print seems even smaller, causing headaches and eye strain after several hours of reading.

Reading glasses give me just the right amount of magnification to take up some of the slack. A little boost. Kind of like a push-up bra for your vision.

Sexy, however - well, most reading glasses are not. The relics that you see in your drug store, for example, will make you look like a deranged person with giant alien googly eyes.

However, fun and unique reading glasses can be found from time to time, often in unlikely places (boutiques, dollar stores, gift shops, airport bookstores).

Types of Reading Glasses:

  • Full-lens: look like normal glasses, but simply magnify.
  • Half-lens: often called "granny glasses", have narrow rectilinear lenses that make it possible to glance up and over at something without having to remove glasses. Most commonly seen on sharp-faced archetypal librarians, schoolmarms, spinsters, and me.

Reading glasses come in different "strengths" on a range from +1 to +4, in increments of .25. I find that different texts call for different glasses. The wee tiny script in my Loeb books calls for my 2.25 lenses, while other books can be managed comfortably at 1.25 to 1.50. YMMV.

Since I've begun wearing reading glasses, I've become something of a collector. I currently have five pairs, all of the half-lens variety (because I like to look out the window, and back at the book, and so on):

  1. Navy and purple, with tiny white polka dots (2.25)
  2. Vintage tortoiseshell (1.25)
  3. Black with rhinestones at the outside edges (1.50)
  4. Clear dark blue frames (1.75 and my current favorites)
  5. Simple gold wire frames (2.75 and rarely used, mostly brought out for tricky bits of embroidery)

The only problem I have with my reading glasses is that I feel ridiculous talking to people with them on, perched as they are at the end of my nose. It creates a weirdly prim and discomfiting kind of peering dynamic. So I often push mine up on top of my head when I need to talk to someone. Then I will forget that I did this, think I've lost them or left them somewhere, and fish another pair out of my bag. After several hours I have two pairs on my head, another on my face, and look like a right dowdy maniac. Yes, I really can be that absent-minded.

But I draw the line at wearing them on a chain, at least while I'm under the age of 65.