Should I Get Reading Glasses From a Drugstore? - Smart Vision Labs

Let’s say you had a recent vision exam that showed you’re a bit farsighted. In hindsight, you did notice yourself holding a copy of your favorite novel further away the last time you re-read it. Because you’re not thrilled with needing prescription reading glasses, you do some other errands over the week to let it sink in.

As you do your grocery shopping, you pass by a display marked “reading glasses.” It is filled with pairs of glasses, each of which has a number on them: + 1.50, + 2.25, + 3.00. You try on a pair and look at your shopping list, which now happens to be much clearer without your arm fully outstretched. Satisfied with both your vision and the inexpensive price, you add the glasses to your cart.

Did you make a good purchase?

Maybe. The success of finding reading glasses in a supermarket or drugstore greatly depends on your specific prescription. Although a custom prescription which was made for your eyes is the best option, cheap reading glasses off the shelf may be a cost-effective temporary way to correct your vision.

The primary concern with buying reading glasses from a drugstore is they are created to be “one size fits all.” Yes, there are different strengths, called powers. However, most people who need vision correction need a different strength lens for each eye. The lenses in off-the-shelf reading glasses are both the same which isn’t optimal for your eyes.

Other than the varying strength in most people’s left and right lens, the distance of their eyes matters as well. Custom glasses from your eye doctor will measure your pupillary distance in addition to the prescription strength. When your lenses are created, they are made so the center of the lens will line up with the pupil on your eye. This results in a lens which redirects the light precisely where it needs to go.

With anything other than the correct prescription, you are missing out on optimal reading vision. In turn, this may cause discomfort when you have to read something. Even if the reading glasses are “better” than before, they still may not be doing enough to eliminate eye strain. This is especially true when you often read for long periods of time. When people think “curl up with a good book,” they aren’t picturing themselves squinting at the words as they stretch out their arm.

Another issue with drugstore reading glasses is people who use them instead of a vision exam. Some people notice their readers aren’t letting them see as clearly anymore. But instead of going for a vision exam, they pick up a stronger pair of reading glasses next time they run errands. This is dangerous because there are other reasons why a person’s vision can be blurry other than needing stronger glasses. By not going for a checkup, they are risking their eye health.

There are some benefits to pre-made reading glasses though. If your prescription isn’t that strong or you only struggle to read things like labels, then supermarket readers may be all you need. If you know you need vision correction but don’t know how often you will bother to take out your glasses and use them, reading glasses can allow you to adjust to remembering to put them on before purchasing a prescription pair.

Their inexpensive price point (other than preventing wallet strain) also allows you to try out a more adventurous style than if you had to commit to a more expensive pair of prescription reading glasses. You may even find those bright red cat-eye frames are way more flattering than your old-reliable tortoiseshell-colored ones and decide to go for some prescription lenses.

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