How to Choose the Right Reading Glasses

Protect your eyes from strain and damage by getting them checked before buying reading glasses

Credit: Wellness Matters

Always get an eye exam before you buy reading glasses

Can’t quite see the page the way you used to? Before you buy those cheap reading glasses, here’s why it might not be a good idea

There comes a time when you finally have to admit that your arms aren’t too short after all – what you need to read that book is reading glasses. However, should you pay $200 or more for prescription lenses when the drugstore sells glasses for $10? The answer is simple: When it comes to your vision and the health of your eyes, regular checkups and investing in the right lenses are worth the time and money.

Off-the-rack Reading Glasses

Off-the-rack reading glasses offer simple magnification of +1 to +3.5 or more. They can be found everywhere, and you don’t need a prescription to buy them. These cheap magnifiers may seem like a quick fix for aging eyes, but not if they allow you to skip a visit to an eye doctor.

An optometrist or ophthalmologist will determine if your weakening vision stems from problems that can’t be corrected by non-prescription glasses (such as astigmatisms), or if your strength requirements differ from eye to eye. They’ll also check for serious underlying conditions, such as glaucoma or cataracts.

Imprecise, off-the-shelf glasses may not cause long-term damage to your eyes, but prolonged use can lead to headaches, eyestrain and difficulty focusing.

Prescription Lenses

Among the many advantages of prescription lenses is that they are made to meet your precise vision needs and can be crafted with progressive magnification that addresses both near and farsightedness, so you don’t need to take your glasses off when you look up from your book. 

While off-the-shelf glasses may be okay for quick use around the house, make sure you see an optometrist or ophthalmologist for regular eye exams. You should always know you’re wearing the right glasses – now, and as your vision needs evolve.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.