Drugstore Reading Glasses - Helpful or Harmful?

If you are over 40, you may have noticed that reading has started to become more difficult. Small print is blurry, and you have to hold the material at arm's length in order to see clearly. This is a classic sign of aging, called presbyopia, and is easily treated through the use of corrective lenses.

If you've had good eyesight up to this point, you may decide to try a pair of over-the-counter (OTC) reading glasses that can be found in many retail stores. This is a cheaper alternative to purchasing prescription lenses, but how effective are drugstore reading glasses, and can they be harmful?

Generally, OTC glasses, which are essentially magnifying glasses of varying strengths, can be just as effective as prescription lenses, and won't harm your eyes, but the wrong pair can cause eyestrain. If you suspect you need reading glasses, schedule a comprehensive eye exam. In addition to checking for eye diseases and ailments, your optometrist will determine how severe your problem is, and whether OTC glasses are an appropriate option. If your eyes are otherwise healthy, you are probably a good candidate, but make sure to ask your eye doctor to recommend the proper strength.

Here are some things to consider when deciding between prescription and drugstore glasses:

Drugstore reading glasses are essentially one-size-fits-all. They have the same magnification in each lens, which can be a problem if, like many people, you need a different strength for each eye. Also, the optical center, which should line up perfectly with the center of your pupil, is usually centered within each lens, which may be bad if it doesn't correspond with the shape of your face.

OTC glasses are not the same as glasses used to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Again, they are meant to be used for a specific activity at a set distance, so if you have more severe refractive errors, you're better off with a pair of prescription lenses.

Finally, check your OTC glasses for defects such as waves or bubbles in the lenses, which can distort vision and cause eyestrain.

For tips on selecting a pair of OTC reading glasses, go to: http://www.ehow.com/how_6119635_buy-over-counter-reading-glasses.html

Reading glasses are meant to prevent eyestrain, so if they allow you to read without headaches, they are beneficial. If you can't find glasses that work well and fit properly, you may have to give in and buy a customized pair.

Dr. Ronald J. Martin of VisionHealth Optometry focuses on quality eye care services to family members of all ages. Services include eye exams, contact lens fittings, retinal photography, pre- and post-operative care, and glasses frames and lens selection. Dr. Martin's office is located at 1440 Medical Center Dr. Suite2, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. He can be reached at 707-206-0290 or email him at questions@vision-health.com. Visit VisionHealth Optometry online at http://www.vision-health.com/.

Dr. Martin is a member of the California Optometric Association, the American Optometric Association, the Redwood Empire Optometric Society, and the Optometry Alumni Association of the University of California.


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