The first time people put on glasses to correct their vision, they usually end up saying something memorable and accidentally hilarious. For me, it was this: "I can see blades of grass!" My excitement was palpable, but it was met with a bemused sort of awe.
I get it. It's just grass. Only, for me, it was a clarity that had been absent in my life until that moment. Before glasses, grass was an indistinct stretch of green, just like everything else. After glasses, I could see individual blades of grass from a distance.
Those first few days were like an exploration of an alien world. Colors, textures, patterns. All of it so sharp to my eyes that it was almost disorienting.
How had I been missing this for my whole life?
It turns out, millions of Americans are going through the same thing - now more than ever.
The statistics of vision impairment are a little staggering. 14 million Americans are visually impaired; 61% report wearing glasses or contacts to correct vision, and one study suggests that 25 million Americans will be visually impaired by 2050. Any way you look at it, that's a lot of people wearing glasses.
Humans have five senses and some might argue that vision is the most important one. We rely on sight for so many things that it's alarming visual impairment is becoming an epidemic in our nation.
More young people are wearing glasses than ever before. The causes vary on who you ask. Some say it's our constant visual stimulation through gaming, television, and social media. Others blame the blue light coming from our phone and computer screens. Others still blame our visual impairment on sitting too close to the TV when we were kids.
Regardless of why we're struggling with our vision, the fact remains that glasses are often a vital necessity for many Americans. And that means that choosing the right glasses for yourself is an essential task. After all, you'll be stuck with your frames for at least two years at a time, if not longer.
Take a look at our guide for glasses for men to make sure you're choosing the glasses that are right for you.
Eyeglass Basics: The Whats, Whys, and Hows
There is an unsung hero in human history and that is the inventor of glasses.
No, not Benjamin Franklin. He invented the bifocals, which are glasses with two lenses for seeing near and far. Glasses, to the best of our knowledge, had already been around for 400 years before Benjamin decided to create an update. And the truth of the matter is that nobody really knows who the genius to come up with glasses was in the first place.
We salute him anyway.
What Are Glasses?
If you didn't already know, eyeglasses - commonly glasses, and pretentiously spectacles - are two glasses mounted on frames which rest on the face.
The purpose of glasses is to correct or improve many common visual impairments, which we will get into a bit later.
How Do Glasses For Men Work?
No, but glasses are kind of magic in their own way. See, the lenses of glasses are the important bit because they alter the direction of light rays to focus light properly on the retina, the part of your eye that translates light into images.
Glasses work by correcting the bend of light you are seeing, which is why some lenses are more curved or even thicker than others depending on your specific needs.
How to Know if You Need Glasses For Men?
Are you looking for a sign? No, really - can you not see that sign? There are loads of ways to know if you need glasses. Here are a few...
If things too close or too far away become indistinct blobs of color, then congratulations, you have blurry vision. If your blurry vision is consistent, then you might want to schedule an eye exam. No amount of resting your eyes is going to fix the blur, trust me.
Is it getting harder to see in low lights? Does your vision suddenly take a nosedive after sundown? Yeah, that's not a good thing - it means that your night vision is fading, which could mean that you shouldn't be behind a wheel until you see an optometrist.
Dark to Light
This is different from night vision. If you're having trouble adjusting from dark-to-light or light-to-dark environments, then it's a sign of weakened eyes. The average person only needs 3-10 seconds to adjust from brightness to near darkness. If it's taking you longer than 30 seconds, then you need an eye appointment.
Is it getting more difficult to keep the computer screen in focus? I mean, maybe your work isn't engaging, or maybe you're experiencing farsightedness. Only an eye doctor can definitively say.
Do your eyes get tired after a long day of squinting? Do you get headaches behind your eyes regularly? Those are signs of eye strain, or eye fatigue, which happens when your eyes are working too hard. Eye strain is a common complaint of people who see eye doctors.
This one is a pretty serious indicator. Double vision doesn't only mean
that you're seeing two images merging together when you should only be seeing one - it's also an early sign of cataracts. If you're having double vision, then you need to get an eye exam as soon as possible.
Are straight lines distorted and wavy to you, like when you put a pencil in water? Are colors faded more often than not? That's called wavy vision and it's not good, as it's an early indication of total vision loss. Get in to see an optometrist yesterday.
No, I don't mean you'll be seeing halos on angels. I mean you'll be seeing sun halos in low lighting when you shouldn't be. This applies to streetlights and the lone lamp in your living room. If lights have halos, then you might be at risk of cataracts. An eye exam will be able to tell you more about the halos you see.
Don't panic, but pressure behind the eye is a sign of glaucoma which is perfectly treatable. By an ophthalmologist. Haven't you scheduled an appointment yet?
What Are Common Eyesight Problems?
Almost all eyesight problems have to do with light being detected wrong by some part of the eye. Eyesight problems are very common, however, and manageable by wearing glasses or simple in-office procedures.
Think of cataracts as clouds on a partially sunny day, only the clouds are in your eye. Light rays from objects in view must pass through your cornea to reach your retina. When a cataract clouds the cornea, your vision fogs and lights get a halo.
For whatever reason, the right amount of fluid must fill the space within your eye. Pressure from too much fluid damages the optic nerve, stealing your peripheral vision and then your central vision. You aren't doomed by glaucoma, however, as it is treatable with the right interventions.
A refractive error where light rays fall short of your retina. You can only see things close to you, hence you are nearsighted.
Another refractive error where light rays overreach your retina. You can only see things far away from you, like further than 5 feet away, so you are far-sighted.
Lucky you, light rays fall unevenly on your retina's surface. That means you are both farsighted and nearsighted, sometimes even differently sighted in both eyes.
Hey, Man... You Might Need an Eye Exam!
In America, most public schools have mandatory eye exams each year, either performed by a nurse or required by a doctor prior to admission. But if you are over 18, that responsibility is solely yours to enforce.
People over 18 should have eye exams every two years. Your primary physician is able to perform a basic eye exam at your request, but if you are having any vision problems, then it's best to see an optometrist.
For people over 50 with no vision problems, you can stick to the two-year rule.
For people over 50 with some vision problems, you should be seeing an eye doctor every year, especially if you have a history of cataracts or other visual problems.
What to Expect When You Check Up on Those Eyes
If it's your first time going to an optometrist or an ophthalmologist, don't be intimidated by the contraption they ask you to place your chin on. That's just the fancy machine they use to test your vision. It doesn't hurt a bit.
Comprehensive eye exams typically take about an hour. You'll be asked to perform a series of visual exams for both the tech and the doctor, which will include the ever-common eye chart.
The eye doctor themselves will probably use a machine to shine a light in your eye so they can use a high-powered lens microscope to see the tiny structures in your eye. They don't care if you blink, or anything. They just want to get a good look at your eye.
If you indicate that you are having trouble with colors, you might be asked to take a color blindness test.
One common exam is ocular mobility, where basically all you have to do is follow the doctor's moving finger while they look at your eye. They will have you look side to side, and up and down to get a feel for any troublesome eye movements that might contribute to eye strain.
Depth perception tests are also common, especially if you indicate that you have balance problems or frequently run into objects. You'll don what amounts to a pair of fancy 3D glasses and flip through a booklet of patterns, where you will then be asked to pick out the closest figure on each page. Pretty simple.
If glasses are in your future, then you will be led through a retinoscopy or a refraction test, which is much easier than it sounds. You will place your chin on one of the machines and be asked to look through the lens at a large target - usually letters - while the doctor flips through lenses in front of your eye. Each time the lenses are flipped, the doctor will ask you if you can see better or worse. This is how optometrists find your glasses prescription.
If you complain about eye pressure or eye strain, you will likely be asked to perform the glaucoma test. This is also known as the "puff of air" test and yes, that is exactly what happens with this exam. A puff of air is delivered to your eye, which then measures your eye's resistance to that air and determines your eye pressure. High pressure equals glaucoma.
Unlike optometrists, an ophthalmologist will have exams that involve various kinds of eye drops. Some eye drops will numb the eye and eyelid, while others are meant to dilate your pupils so the doctor can have a better look at your eye structures. The eye drops are a necessary evil if your eyesight problems are especially concerning and they typically wear off after a few hours.
Spotlight: Celebrities Who Are Out of Sight
By now, you know that glasses are very common. In fact, glasses are so common that popular culture has come to associate glasses with iconic characters and even personality traits. Hollywood takes a lot of credit for that.
Fictional Characters with Glasses
Let me refresh your memory - there are hundreds of fictional characters from popular media who wear glasses and who have helped normalize the wearing of glasses as something that people just do. Here are five fictional characters who have worn glasses the best.
Harry's glasses are as much a part of his identity as the lightning-bolt scar on his head.
Unlike in the original British version of The Office, the American version of Dwight became an icon when Rainn Wilson donned those wire-rimmed glasses.
Laugh if you want, but Michael Meyer's turn as a cryogenically frozen-then-thawed super spy from the 60s was undeniably groovy.
Superman's alter ego relied on glasses to make sure his identity stayed hidden while he worked as a reporter at The Daily Planet.
Milhouse Van Houten
Even cartoons aren't immune to vision challenges. The Simpsons have a few bespeckle'd characters in the line up, but Milhouse has a soft spot in our hearts.
Famous Men Who Wear Glasses
You didn't think fictional characters would be the only examples to live by, did you? Famous men have been making glasses chic for almost half a century, turning poor vision into symbols of being cool, suave, and intelligent.
Microsoft founder and philanthropic billionaire, Bill Gates has been wearing glasses for decades
Jobs knew the power of capitalism. He also knew the power of an iconic look with his streamlined glasses and black turtleneck.
A knighted titan of the music industry, singer-songwriter-legendary performer Elton John has made his glasses into a fashion statement.
When he isn't playing Spock, you can find Quinto making hipster frames into an instant icon on the streets of New York.
Depp has masterfully played dozens of roles, some of them involving glasses. But the chameleon actor also wears glasses in his day-to-day life.
Fashion over Function?
There are some dowdy arguments that glasses aren't supposed to be stylish. They are supposed to be as unobtrusive as possible, as they are only meant to serve the purpose of making sure you can see.
But that's a tired train of thought. These days, you don't have to choose function over fashion when you're shopping for glasses. Frames and lenses can easily be altered to make sure that your glasses look the best they can on your face.
But regardless of whether for function or fashion or both, the basic anatomy of glasses is always the same. Here are the basic components:
Frame by Frame
There are countless frames to choose from. Some people will try to tell you which frames are stylish, but you must remember that style is subjective. The frames you like should fit your lifestyle and your personality.
You know them because you see them all the time. A new classic, hipster glasses are a cultural phenomenon.
Hipster glasses for men are unapologetically bold. The frame shapes may change slightly, but all hipster glasses are oversized with thick black frames.
Contrary to their moniker, nerd-style glasses aren't actually nerdy.
Nerd-style glasses for men are a throwback to a popular 80's style, slightly rounded and just a bit oversized. Nerd-style glasses usually have a double bridge and are made in brown patterns.
Think horn-rimmed styles and other glasses of the past.
Vintage glasses for men are callbacks to the Buddy Holly's of the 1950's and 1960's. The shape and pattern are important in vintage glasses, as you'll be looking for oversized, thick-framed, wayfarer and aviator shapes in tortoise shell patterns.
You know these glasses as a very serious minimalistic style.
Classic glasses for men are typically rectangular and in base colors like black, grey, and brown. They are not oversized. They speak to a certain timelessness and maturity of the wearer.
John Lennon Glasses
Lennon circa 1972.
John Lennon Glasses for men have a few variations, but the important part is the roundness of the style and the sleekness of the frame. Even oversized, these glasses are not clunky.
Flat Top Glasses
As you might imagine, flat top classes have a flat top.
Similar to classic frames, flat top glasses for men take the rectangular edge to the extreme with thick, but narrow-shaped bold frames.
These are glasses that will never go out of style.
Browline glasses for men have a thick browline over the top rim and bridge. Sometimes with a double bridge, browline glasses have a very thin or unnoticeable bottom rim to the frame.
The shape doesn't matter for these frames - it's all about color and pattern.
Colorful glasses for men are youthful and playful. They don't take themselves too seriously. The colors can be neon or jewel toned. The patterns are speckled, striped, or even high contrasts of the tortoise pattern.
These are very modern and utilitarian.
Rimless glasses for men are about subtly and cleverness. The wearer thinks about the most uses they can get out of everyday readers. With no rims to speak of, the lenses are shaped and held together by tiny screws and metal arms.
The Right Glasses for Your Face
Picking a style of frames largely depends on your face shape. But it isn't at all complicated to know what glasses are right for your face and it isn't as restrictive as you might first assume.
Oval shaped faces have wider cheekbones and a narrower forehead and jaw.
All glasses look good on men with oval face shapes. You can be as versatile as you want.
Inverted Triangle Shape
Also called "heart-shaped", this is a face with a wider forehead and narrow jaw.
You'll want to be looking at glasses that are slightly rounded and not too oversized. Hipster glasses and nerd-style glasses are good options.
This is a face with a more narrow forehead and a wider jaw.
Glasses for men that are best on this face shape are oversized. Vintage glasses are going to be your best friends.
Even width all around with gentle slopes and fuller cheeks.
You don't want to overwhelm the balance of your face by picking oversized glasses, so you'll be looking at classic, flat top, and browline frames.
Even width all around with angles at the cheeks and jaw.
Soften your angular face with slightly oversized frames. John Lennon glasses and rimless glasses might be your best bet.
Things to Consider
You've picked a style that's right for you. You have your prescription. And now that it's time to actually get your glasses, you're about to be offered a lot of choices of specialty lenses.
What are specialty lenses? Simply put, these are lenses that have special uses. You have a few options that might be better depending on your lifestyle and your budget.
Colored box with Speciality Lenses Available To You and the following list
Any of these specialty lenses can help give you a better experience as a glasses wearer.
Glasses For Men Care
Having glasses, you'll need a few tools in your arsenal that are non-negotiable. They include glasses cases, glasses cleaner, and glasses cleaning cloths. Usually when you first get a pair of new glasses, you will also receive complimentary cases and cloths. But if you like to customize, check out our recommended list.
Any case is better than no case at all. You need a glasses case for storing your glasses and for travel. You can choose from any material for glasses cases, but leather, aluminum, and shelled cases are the most common. Beware that oversized glasses require oversized cases.
It's very important that you clean your glasses regularly. Not just so you can see through the lens better, but also because it is essential to disinfect anything that regularly gets that close to your eye. There are nifty tools that clean both sides at once and sprays that are gentle enough not to harm any coating on your lenses.
Glasses Cleaning Cloths
Microfiber cloths for cleaning your glasses are mandatory. Try cleaning with anything else, and you risk scratching the glass. You have the option of pairing a cloth with a spray or not. But you also have the option of buying pre-moistened microfiber cloths for when you're on the go.
Sometimes, your glasses need a little love. Things happen. Depending on what the damages is, getting your glasses repaired isn't a huge deal.
Small repairs can be done with glasses repair kits. These kits are useful for tightening the screws on your hinges, replacing the screws all together, or even giving yourself a new nose pad if you need it.
Bigger repairs - like a broken bridge or a cracked lens - is something you'll have to take to either a glasses repair store or the place where you bought your glasses. More more time-consuming fixes, some stores even offer loaner replacement glasses - basic wires - to get you through the repair period.
When to Get a New Pair
Just like you should see your eye doctor every two years, it's very common to need a new prescription every two years as you vision might have changed in that time or a new exam might find a better tweak. But if you're in love with your frames, you can always ask to keep the frames and change the lenses - it might even save you some money.
Real Talk: Are Glasses for Men Attractive?
Not going to lie - some people don't find glasses attractive. And that's okay. There are 7 billion other people in the world and one of them will find the glasses you wear as attractive as your sense of humor or your smile.
But glasses being unattractive these days shouldn't be an issue. There is such a variety of frames, styles, and colors that the glasses adorning your face might as well be an accessory to accentuate your appeal. The right glasses on you can crank your allure right up!
Just remember that you don't have to favor function over fashion, but you do have to favor eye health over vanity.
Now go make that appointment you've been putting off for 6 months!