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Prescription glasses vs reading glasses

Here at Black Gates Optometrists we often get asked,

“Is there anything wrong with using off-the-shelf reading glasses?”

The most important factor to be aware of is the two lenses in a pair of readymade cheap reading glasses have the same prescription, so they will be fine for some people, but not for others.

Readymade reading glasses also offer less variations in size and shape and largely follow a one-size-fits-all approach, whereas prescription glasses can be customised.

What about men’s reading glasses compared to women’s?

Off-the-shelf cheap reading glasses are often labelled as men’s or women’s, however this usually just refers to the size, shape or colour. Really there are no rules! If you want to go with readymade reading glasses, why limit yourself?

Can cheap reading glasses cause problems?

When people don’t have the same prescription for both eyes, the reading glasses can sometimes cause strain and headaches because they are not adequately meeting the different vision requirements in each eye. Prescription glasses from an optometrist on the other hand, ensure your lenses accurately match your needs for both eyes.

Off-the-shelf reading glasses don’t correct for astigmatism, which a lot of people have, so depending on your prescription, they are likely to not be as clear as prescription glasses. As they are ‘one size fits all’, the optical centre of the lens may be out of alignment for some wearers and we then hear the expression, “I feel my eyes are pulling”.

Why get prescription glasses?

prescription glasses

Prescription glasses can be customised so that the lenses are thinner, lighter and safer. Coatings can be applied to the lenses to reduce glare and harmful blue light from digital devices. Coatings can make the lenses more scratch-resistant and easier to clean. Similarly, the frames are made in a variety of shapes, materials and sizes so there is a much greater choice of style and colour. Buying customised prescription glasses means our staff will make sure the frame fit and construction is appropriate for your features and lifestyle.

Another option that prescription glasses can offer is progressive lenses. These allow the wearer to read close-up as well as see clearly across the room, as they provide a graduated range of vision that varies from close to distant. This variation also includes an intermediate distance, perfect for computer use.

If price is putting you off, we have a number of frame and lens deals that make for cheap prescription glasses.

Prescription transition glasses are another popular choice over cheap reading glasses. Whether you are inside or outside, the lenses will automatically adjust to the lighting conditions without you having to switch your glasses.

Check your eye health

Most people benefit from the personalisation of prescription glasses and just find over-the-counter reading glasses useful for odd jobs and as spare pairs.

One word of caution however. It’s easy to think the remedy for a change in eyesight, particularly in older age, is a quick trip out for a pair of readymade cheap reading glasses. After all, why bother the optometrist? The concern is, if there are any potential eye problems that could cause further problems later, these aren’t picked up without an eye test. So, whichever way you choose to go, we do recommend an eye test at least every two years to protect your eye health.

If you have any questions or would like to see if you could benefit from prescription glasses, contact either of our two Wellington practices in Lower Hutt or Johnsonville to book an appointment with one of our optometrists.