As we get older the muscles in our eyes which control close focussing tend to weaken. It's this unfortunate tendency that leads to you having to hold your newspaper or book further away in order to read. This is a common problem and means that once we're past 40 many of us ultimately require reading glasses since we don't have long enough arms. The official term for this deterioration is presbyopia.
Fortunately this doesn't necessarily require a visit to the optician as it's possible to buy non-prescription reading glasses over the counter or online. These ready-made glasses are available in strengths from +1 to +3.5 (effectively the level of magnification) and in a wide range of styles including designer options. Ready-made glasses needn't break the bank either as there are prices to suit most pockets and they start from just a few pounds. The advantage of low prices is that you can afford to keep several pairs – one at home, one in the office and perhaps one in the car so you're never caught out by forgetting your glasses. You can also get tinted reading glasses if you like to read outdoors. You can get bifocal versions too so that you can use them for general outdoor wear when it's sunny and still be able to read comfortably.
So how do you work out what strength reading glasses you need? If you've had an eye test within the last two years you can work out the value from the prescription. This will show a sphere (SPH) value, usually a negative number and a reading addition (ADD) value which is positive. To work out the strength you need add these values together. For example if you have an SPH of -0.5 and an ADD of +1.5 your reading strength will be 1.0.
If you haven't had a recent eye test you can estimate what value you need based on your age. If you're around 40 to 45 you'll probably need a strength of 1.0 as a rule of thumb for every five years above 45 you can add 0.5 to the requirement.
In the event that you still can't see well or that you're experiencing headaches then you should consult an optician. It's likely that your eyes have slightly different values or there may be some other problem such as an astigmatism (indicated on your prescription by a CYL value). In these cases you'll probably need to have glasses made. But if you just need a little extra magnification in order to read comfortably then non-prescription glasses should serve you well and save you cash. There's plenty of choice available so you don't need to compromise on style either.
Because of the wide range of designer reading glasses available online these days, it means that you don't have to give up on style when buying non-prescription spectacles.