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Henry 'Indiana' Jones Jr. sometimes needs to wear glasses but most of the time doesn't seem to need them. Are they prescription? Are they needed for reading (inconsistently)? Is he trying to look smarter than he is?

In Raiders of the Lost Ark he seems to wear them while at the university but not later.

Indiana Jones exiting classroom wearing glasses

In Temple of Doom he seems to only wear them when he is at dinner. Probably the one time he wants to not see what is right in front of him.

Indiana Jones wear glasses at Indian dinner

In The Last Crusade he isn't wearing them when talking to Marcus. Then he puts them on to examine the Grail Tablet (but not before when looking at other things, like the painting of the knight holding the cup).

Indiana Jones pulling out glasses to examine Grail Tablet

However throughout most of the movie he can easily read the Grail Journal without glasses.

Indiana Jones consulting Grail Diary without glasses

I am sure there are other examples with him having glasses and other examples of him reading without them.

The point is does he need glasses (reading or otherwise) or is he just making a fashion statement?

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  • Presbyopia maybe? Although you did mention he also read without
    – Clockwork
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 14:23
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    @Clockwork - Not age-related. He wears them in Young Indiana Jones, although that was written later and may be a case of the tail wagging the dog
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 15:30
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    Out of universe, he wears the glasses when he's supposed to be a learned scholar, and leaves them off when he's supposed to be a rugged adventurer. Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 20:39
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    "he can easily read the Grail Journal" - in that picture at least, he holds the journal at a distance, the same way I hold a book when I do not want to use my reading glasses. That is not necessarily "easy". Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 8:54

1 Answer 1

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According to the script for Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Doctor Jones wears his glasses to assist with reading.

"Part of his attention is focused in a book and he wears glasses to see the fine print"

A screenshot of part of the screen for the movie Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. The text says: "INT. INDY'S OFFICE, SMALL EASTERN COLLEGE - DAY
Page 18
It's autumn and the pretty New England campus out Indy's window reflects it in dazzling color. A few weeks before the start of classes. Activity just picking up. Some students about.
Indy is at a bookcase near the window and he looks quite different in this setting. His outfit is tweedy, slightly rumpled in the professional style. Part of his attention is focused in a book and he wears glasses to see the fine print. The office is cramped, absolutely innundated with books, maps, etchings and archeological artifacts. In fact, the only neat spot in the room right now is Indy's desk, which has been cleared off expressly for the benefit of--"

This also tallies with the script for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He puts on his glasses to make a close inspection of the tablet.

Donovan goes to a table where an object is wrapped in cloth. He throws back the cloth revealing a flat STONE TABLET -- about two feet square, inscribed with letters and symbols.

Indy looks impressed. He puts on his glasses to make a closer examination.

In later life, it would appear that Jones is basically incapable of reading small text without his glasses.

Indy returned his attention to the task at hand and smoothed his palms over the map, leaning in close to read. Damn fine print. The letters were just blurry shapes. If he was going to solve this puzzle, he needed to see every detail. He gave in, reached to his pocket, and donned his reading glasses.

“Priceless,” Marion muttered, staring at his bifocals.

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull: Official Novelisation

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    To add, he can probably see well enough without them in the field to make carrying them not worth the hassle. When in "civilization", they're probably a nice luxury to have.
    – chepner
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 23:41
  • @chepner - He seems to sling them into his pocket when they're not in use.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 22, 2023 at 23:45
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    I'm worry enough about my reading glasses when they're in a pocket while I'm strolling around the suburbs. :) If I had the option, I'd just leave them behind for a trip to the jungle.
    – chepner
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 13:17
  • @chepner - A leather case is sufficient to prevent them from breaking in most instances; i.ebayimg.com/images/g/AWAAAOSwDqFho~uT/s-l1200.jpg
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 23, 2023 at 13:23
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    @O.R.Mapper - Given what we see in the film, the answer is 'yes'.
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 19:31

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