Custom Reading Glasses vs. Over The Counter Readers

A question I get a lot is what is the difference between prescription reading glasses and store-bought “readers”? A lot of my patients also feel like the “cheaters” don’t really help as much as they feel like they should, despite trying the highest strength they can find. The best analogy I have come up with to compare doctor prescribed reading glasses vs. OTC readers is that it is like buying clothing off the rack compared to custom tailored clothing. It will feel more comfortable and is made just for your specific needs in mind!

Why Do I Need Reading Glasses?

When we are young, our lens inside our eye is flexible and changes shape to allow us to focus up close. At around the age of 40, the lens starts to become more rigid and can make it harder to look at things close up. This gradually gets worse over time. Reading glasses will magnify print so that you are able to read. 

Reading Glasses vs. Bifocals

If you already wear prescription glasses to see at a distance, bifocals are typically the next step. The top of the lens will still have your distance prescription so you can see far away, and the bottom of the lens becomes more magnified so that you can also see up close. If you don’t wear glasses to see far away, reading glasses are a great option. Bifocals are still a great option as well because it can become annoying to have to constantly take your reading glasses off to see far away. The top of the lens would have no prescription and the bottom would still have the magnification to allow you to read. 

Advantages of Prescription Reading Glasses

-Most people have a difference in prescription between eyes. Drug store readers will not take this into consideration and has the same magnification in each lens. Prescription glasses will give you the exact strength you need for each eye. 

-Prescription glasses will also include any astigmatism that you may have whereas over the counter readers do not correct for that. 

-Prescription glasses are made with higher quality materials than most OTC readers. 

-If you work on a computer or use any screened device, prescription glasses can be made with special anti-reflective coating. 

Aren’t sure if you need prescription reading glasses? If you find yourself holding things out at an arm’s length to read, then the answer is probably yes! Schedule an appointment with your optometrist to make sure that your eyes are healthy and there isn’t another problem going on that could be causing you to have blurred vision. 

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