Some of the fastest muscles in your body are connected to your eyes. With age, these muscles weaken and cause those little words on menus and pill bottles to blur. At this point, if you want to see up close, you have two options:
- Go to your optometrist for a reading glasses prescription.
- Go to your local drug store for over the counter readers.
But how do you know which to choose?
Over the counter readers are simply magnifying glasses held in by frames. They cannot harm your eyes, though if you use a power too high for your vision needs it can decrease the focusing strength of your eye muscles. Basically, if you choose a power higher than what you need, the magnifying lens does the work your eye is still capable of doing and therefore the lens becomes a crutch causing your eye muscles to weaken further and quicker.
Also, in over counter reading glasses the magnifying power is the same in both lenses. Rarely does the right and left eye have the exact same prescription, so with over the counter readers, you’re usually not seeing as clearly as you could.
With prescription reading glasses, the optometrist takes into account the differing needs of each individual eye. These needs could be, but are not limited to, a combination of near and far prescriptions, spherical power, astigmatism, and prism correction.
Prescription reading glasses do tend to cost more than over the counter readers, and for good reason. Prescription reading glasses are made from high quality lenses, ground down in a lab, cut to each eye’s specific needs. During this process the trained optical lab technicians take into account the patient’s optical center (where their pupils look directly through the lens) for the clearest vision.
Is it ever okay to use over the counter readers? Yes, though this is a decision best made between you and your optometrist. You may have no need for distance, astigmatism, or prism correction. Your eyes may require the same near prescription. You may use contact lenses for distant and/or astigmatism, and need over the counter readers for up close. These are all variables you can discuss with your optometrist in making a confident decision of what’s healthy for your eyes.