Are Your Glasses a Pain in the Neck?

eye glasses sitting on a table

As you age vision often changes.

The first indication I had of this was several years ago. I began to notice that I was having a harder and harder time reading the small printed instructions that are on the back of medicine bottles and cans of various sorts. Sound familiar?

Moving the bottle or can farther and farther away helped but one’s arm is only so long. Soon after I started to notice that I was also having a bit of an issue with focusing comfortably on the text in my book as I read. I now am the proud owner of a pair of prescription reading glasses that have made my life much easier and my eyes much happier.

As you age, needing glasses in the first place or changes to your existing prescription happen may happen. You may end up needing bifocals or progressives. Moving from a single lens to bifocals or progressives presents challenges that require some adjustment that I find many of my students are unaware of.

Because you need to look out of the bottom part of bifocals or progressives to see what you are reading, what you are reading will need to be placed a bit lower than you probably held it when you didn’t have the bifocals or progressives.

The mistake I see many people making is that the reading material is held too high. It might have been a good height when they had single lenses or none at all but the new glasses require a change in habit.

What happens is that without thinking you tend to rotate your head back and down, raising your chin so that you can look through the bottom part of the lens. This puts tremendous compression on your neck and spine and I have found it often causes neck pain and headaches in a lot of folks.

You need to adjust your reading material instead of compromising your head-spine relationship.

This is true as well for computer screens. The normal ergonomic advice is to have the top of your computer monitor at the level of your eyes—so that you have to look down a bit to see the middle part of the screen. If you are looking through the lower part of your glasses to see the screen it will probably need to be lowered. Try it and see how it goes.

If you tend to use a computer a reasonable amount (which is most of us) and need glasses to see the screen, it is a worthwhile investment to get a pair of computer glasses. These glasses are single-vision lenses with a focal length designed for computer work. This will eliminate the need to look through the bottom portion of the lens.

Check out this video for ergonomic tips on computer monitor placement with bifocals or trifocals.

Image by 21177668 from Pixabay 

4 comments… add one

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  • Barbara D. March 15, 2015, 1:29 pm

    I figured out how detrimental moving the head up and down due to bifocals long ago nd a bit too late. This post is very important!

    • laurenhill69 March 16, 2015, 8:07 am

      Never underestimate the effect of making small changes — even if you think it is too late. Lauren

  • MargeEMarge October 13, 2019, 8:52 am

    Thanks. This is helpful. One thing I have done is I have regular readers that are stuck to the computer so that when I use it, i change my progressives to the regular lenses and neck strain is better. I do, however, need to rethink the position of books, devices and everything else when I’m not at the computer.

    • Lauren Hill October 15, 2019, 2:17 pm

      Thanks for your comment. And I’m glad you found the info useful. It sounds like it’s helpful to leave those special glasses stuck to your computer so you remember to put them on. Lots of things that are good for our posture and body Use are simple and easy to do–the hard part is remembering to do them! As for changing your glasses at the computer, it sounds like you’ve figured that out.


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