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Are Drugstore Reading Glasses Bad for Your Eyes?

Are Drugstore Reading Glasses Bad for Your Eyes?

While some individuals develop vision issues early in life, either due to genetics, environmental factors or eye injuries, pretty much every adult will begin to develop some degree of visual loss beginning around age forty. This gradual loss of near vision is called presbyopia and occurs due to the natural hardening of the eye’s lens. 

This hardening means the eye cannot easily focus on things close up or far away as easily, narrowing our clear visual scope.

Symptoms progress gradually but are marked by needing to hold reading material further away and developing headaches when focusing on objects close up for extended periods. One of the most common fixes is the use of corrective lenses, especially in the absence of any other visual problems.

And the go-to for many people is to grab a pair of reading glasses from the drugstore or supermarket. But are they safe, and do they work?


Are Drugstore Reading Glasses Bad for Your Eyes?

The short answer to whether or not reading glasses from the drugstore are bad or harmful for your eyes is no.   While over the counter reading glasses may be safe to use, that may not make them the right choice for correcting visual impairments. 

Let’s take a look at over-the-counter reading glasses, what they do, some of the pros and cons, and how they stack up against personalized corrective lens solutions.

1. What Do Drugstore Glasses Help With?

Drugstore reading glasses are simple corrective lenses manufactured in different strengths to help with varying degrees of acuity loss. The higher the power number on the pair, the greater the strength. Since they are mass-produced, the lenses in each pair are both of the same power. 

So if you have similar visual loss across both eyes, this is fine. But the more significant the disparity between your eyes, the less helpful OTC readers will be.

This set power on both lenses also makes their use very situational. One strength of glasses may help you see perfectly when reading a book but do little to help you focus on computer work just a little further away. 

If you notice issues across multiple distances, the one size fits all option of drugstore readers may be more of a headache as you try to work with a single pair or keep up with having to switch out between multiple.

2. Price and Utility

We have already hit on a number of the pros and cons of drugstore reading glasses. The main draw for these OTC options is the low price point. 

If you haven’t been in for a comprehensive eye exam recently, trying on a pair can be a quick and easy way to determine that you are developing presbyopia and give you some temporary relief. But both eyes rarely require the same strength of a corrective lens. 

If you do grab a pair of drugstore readers and can’t decide between two pairs when testing them out, always go for the weaker option to minimize discomfort and eye strain. Also, watch out for scratches and defects on the lenses that can occur more easily on mass-produced and shipped readers when picking them out in the store.

Budget concerns are important. While we recommend investing in good prescription lenses, OTC glasses can be excellent for situations where the risk of scratching or breaking lenses, such as during sports or manual labor, is higher. 

Get a set that works for that scenario but make sure it is up to the task at hand. You don’t want saving a little money to result in a more severe injury because you couldn’t see clearly.

3. Stacking Up Against Prescription

Over-the-counter reading options are unlikely to be an excellent solution long-term. If you have astigmatism or need differing strengths for each eye or across different distances, prescription reading glasses are a much better option. Modern glasses allow for different powers across the surface of the lens, which means one pair of glasses can help with both near and far vision correction. 

They also come with an array of coating options and frame styles. If you find yourself on computer screens or out in bright lights for work, prescriptions often allow for blue-light blocking and antireflective coatings. This range of power and coatings means better vision and fewer headaches.

Prescription readers give you more flexibility in function and style. They can help with a broader array of visual imperfections and reduce strain on your eyes and brain. But if you find you need to reach for a drugstore pair in an emergency, rest easy knowing you won’t be doing any permanent damage to your eyes.

Eye Exams and Corrective Lenses

Whether you are going for a pair of drugstore reading glasses or looking into a custom prescription, it is essential to maintain eye health and be aware of changes to your vision. The best way to assure good vision and good eye health is to have yearly eye exams.  

Regular checks can help detect problems and catch degenerative conditions early enough to treat. They can also help get you into the correct lenses for your eyes by giving you the exact power recommendations for each eye. 

Asheville Vision and Wellness

If you think you might require reading glasses in the area of Asheville,  NC, look no further than Asheville Vision and Wellness. We offer comprehensive eye exams for all ages and eyeglass fitting and finishing services. Our experienced staff can help get you into a pair of custom glasses that will have you looking as great as the mountains on the horizon or the book in hand.

We have been serving western North Carolina since 1989 and are the professionals you can trust with your vision. Contact us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and get on the path to a clearer and brighter future.