If you’ve recently found that reading has become difficult and you’re often squinting in order to read the fine print, it may be time to try reading glasses. But are over the counter reading glasses any good? Are they comparable to prescription reading glasses? And do they really work? Around the age of forty, reading can become difficult for some people. If you’ve found yourself struggling to read the paper, or a menu when you’re out to dinner, then buying a pair of over the counter reading glasses can help, although most experts feel that nothing can really compare to wearing prescription glasses.
Bringing the World Back into Focus
You may know someone who wears these over the counter reading glasses and has claimed that they work just as well as prescription-strength glasses, but this simply is not true, since prescription reading glasses are customized based on your unique vision needs, whereas these OTC glasses are more of a one size fits all and simply work to magnify close objects. But how can you determine whether or not these glasses will work for you, or if you’d benefit more from prescription lenses? If it’s been years since you’ve had an eye exam and you’ve noticed lately that it’s difficult to read a book, a menu, or even the computer screen at work, then it may be time to make an appointment. However, for some, this type of change in vision is merely a part of aging and won’t require strong prescription reading glasses.
What is Presbyopia?
Over time, you may notice that you have trouble focusing when you’re reading or watching TV. Spending an extended period of time on the computer or staring at your phone can make matters worse and can lead to eye pain and a headache, or blurred and fuzzy vision. In some cases, the best glasses for gaming can help to cancel out the blue light that can be responsible for changes in vision. But if your sudden vision loss is due to aging, then over the counter reading glasses may be a better option. A condition called presbyopia can occur as we grow older and it develops when the crystalline lens becomes more rigid. It can also occur once the muscle that’s responsible for causing the lens to change becomes weak.
If you don’t already wear contact lenses or glasses, then you can try over the counter reading glasses, which can commonly be found at a local pharmacy. These stores often carry a wide selection of these glasses, which are also commonly referred to as readers. These glasses are not like prescription reading glasses, and instead, simply work to magnify. There are many styles and colors to choose from, and they’re available in many different strengths and magnification levels.
Why Prescription Glasses May Be a Better Option
Many people avoid going to the eye doctors for a routine eye exam until they notice a change in their vision. But doing so can be important if you’re suffering from another type of vision problem, such as astigmatism. OTC readers work very differently compared to prescription readers.
The strength in over the counter glasses is the same for each eye, when in reality a person may have one eye that’s stronger than the other. When you use these OTC glasses and they’re not the right strength, it can lead to red eyes, eye strain, and it can cause one of the eyes to work harder than it should.
Additionally, these glasses will not help to correct astigmatism. There are many people that have astigmatism in one or both eyes, and when not corrected it can lead to vision changes, tired eyes, and chronic headaches.
Most over the counter glasses are considered one size fits all, whereas prescription glasses are designed so that the optical center of the lens will correctly line up to the center of the pupil. With OTC glasses, the optical center will not line up. This can cause the wearer to end up looking through the side of the lens, which can further lead to eye muscle imbalances and eye strain.
A pair of prescription glasses are designed to be optically perfect, which means there will be no bubbles, waves, or distortions in the lenses. OTC glasses can have unwanted defects, which may cause serious vision problems in the future.
Who Should Use Over the Counter Glasses?
Do you need reading glasses? If you’ve tried on a pair or two of these glasses and they felt fine, then they may be sufficient for your reading needs. If you’re unsure whether or not you would benefit more from prescription glasses, then make an appointment with your eye doctor for a routine exam. At this time, your doctor may recommend prescription glasses, or he can give you the okay to use readers. Make sure you mention the types of hobbies you enjoy and your occupation since this can help your doctor to determine which type of glasses would work the best for you, based on your vision needs. If you spend several hours a day working on a computer or reading documents, then you may need glasses that can help you easily view even the finest details.
Readers Versus Prescription Glasses
Many people will choose readers over prescription reading glasses because:
- They’re very affordable
- Offer a wide range of reading powers
- Can be HSA or FSA eligible
- Are a good option for people who often lose or break their glasses
- Include a variety of lens options such as high-powered lenses, bifocal aspheric, and more
- Include a frame fitting session by a professional
- Offer special lens coating
- May be covered by your insurance
- Can be customized based on your vision needs
- Have brand name and designer frames available
Basically, a pair of over the counter glasses will not require a trip to the doctor, which is one of the most common reasons a person will choose them over prescription models. They’re also significantly more affordable in comparison and can work just as well for some people, as long as they choose the correct magnification level.
Choosing the Right Pair of Readers
As you know by now, these glasses are designed especially for presbyopia, the age-related condition in which the natural eye lens becomes more rigid, losing the flexibility that helps the eye to focus on close objects. While OTC glasses will not work to treat any other type of visible problems such as astigmatism or nearsightedness, they’re designed to magnify close objects, which can prevent eye strain in many cases. But if you have other vision problems, they can make eye strain worse. If you’ve been given the okay by your eye doctor to use readers, there are some features that you’ll want to pay attention to.
When you opt for the cheapest pair of readers you can find, then you have to be realistic in terms of how good they’ll work and how durable they are. The best reading glasses for men and women will be made out of tougher materials, such as polycarbonate, a type of material that’s also defect-free and more durable compared to cheap, thinner plastics that many low-quality OTC glasses are made out of.
Check the lenses for minor imperfections such as bubbles, which can lead to eye strain, especially if you wear them for long periods of time.
These glasses are available in a wide range of magnification strengths, so you may need to try on several pairs before you find the right fit. When you’re trying on glasses, make sure you read something to determine how well the lenses magnify text and whether or not you need a lower or higher magnification.
When you’re shopping for OTC glasses, you can easily spend an hour or more trying to find the correct magnification strength. Many people make the common mistake of purchasing lenses that are too strong in the hope that it can help them to see more clearly, but remember, this can lead to vision problems in the future and can cause red eyes, chronic headaches, discomfort, and eye pain. Instead, go with the lowest magnification level that works for you.
So, are over the counter reading glasses any good? In some cases, they can help to instantly improve vision. This will ultimately depend on you and your unique vision needs. If you have other vision problems, such as astigmatism or nearsightedness, then wearing readers will not help at all. If you need glasses that will make your vision clearer for objects both near and far, then OTC reading glasses just won’t cut it.
Remember, these glasses only work to magnify. They cannot correct serious vision problems. If you’re not sure whether or not you would benefit from using these types of glasses, make an appointment with an eye doctor for a routine vision exam. If you find that you’re only struggling to read the fine print, then these glasses can be a lifesaver and will help to prevent eye strain and fatigue that’s caused by constantly straining your eyes in order to focus.