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Over the Counter Reading Glasses

Over the Counter Reading Glasses

As we age, we may find that reading starts to become difficult. Our eyes won’t focus up close any more and extended time on the computer becomes difficult. If you don’t already wear glasses or contact lenses, your first reaction may be to run to a local retailer and pick up a pair of reading glasses.

Over-the-counter (OTC) readers come in many different colors and styles, which is great.  They also have various lens strengths so it may be difficult to know what strength of lens you need.

Make an Appointment

The first thing you need to do is make an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam. If you are over 40, you are most likely experiencing presbyopia, which is a common occurrence among older people. However, you need to rule out more serious eye problems or eye diseases, so an eye exam is in order.

Prescription Reading Glasses Recommended

If, after your eye examination, the optometrist recommends prescription reading glasses instead of over-the-counter readers, there are good reasons for that.

•    The powers in OTC readers are the same in each eye and you may need a different power for each eye. Wearing readers of the wrong power can cause eye strain and make one eye work much harder than the other one.

•    Many people have a small amount of astigmatism and, if not corrected, it can cause headaches, tired eyes and vision that is a little off. Prescription readers correct astigmatism, while OTC readers don’t.

•    OTC readers are basically “one size fits all.” Prescription reading glasses are made for your eyes only. The optical center of the lenses on prescription glasses are lined up exactly at the center of your pupils. OTC lenses are not lined up to your pupils and may end up causing eye strain and eye muscle imbalances.

•    OTC readers of low quality may have some unwanted defects in the lenses such as waves or bubbles. Prescription lenses are optically perfect.

•    OTC glasses only come in “plus or positive” powered lenses so they don’t work for nearsighted people. If you are nearsighted, you will probably need a “minus or negative” lens.

When OTC Readers Are Okay

Your eye doctor may tell you that OTC readers will work just fine for you. If that’s the case, ask your optometrist what power is recommended for your eyes. Tell the doctor about your occupation and your hobbies, as the power prescribed may depend on the type of work you do.

For instance, if you spend all day on a computer, you will likely need a different power than if you spend a lot of time reading or working with fine detail.

You could buy a couple of different pairs of inexpensive OTC readers; one for work and one for leisure activities. Many people buy several pairs and store them in different places so there is always a pair handy.


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“Next Optical had all the latest brands and their experienced staff helped me choose glasses that suited my style.”

∼ K. Mate