Readers, cheaters, hobby glasses… the standard over-the-counter reading glasses with -1 magnification, are called by many names. These spectacles aim to enlarge words on pages or screens, making them easier to read.
While these kinds of glasses have been in use for many decades, they continue to be a source of conversation, especially regarding whether or not they can harm your eyes.
Why Do I Suddenly Need Reading Glasses with -1 Magnification?
Many patients ask their eye doctors questions like, “Why am I unable to read labels and other text I could see clearly at one time?” The answer is simple but seldom makes people happy. This is an age-related change in your vision called Presbyopia.
Around age 40, many people begin to experience blurred vision when trying to read at a regular distance. Some of the first signs of presbyopia are often holding reading material far away from their eyes or needing brighter light to read a food label. People tend to notice these changes gradually.
The difficulties occur when the lenses of your eyes start to stiffen and gradually lose their ability to focus on near tasks. The impact tends to increase with age and is the primary reason people start depending on reading glasses. These symptoms do not mean your vision is compromised and although many people are quick to ask, “Does wearing glasses ruin your eyesight?” If you wear the right strength for measured amounts of time, the answer is no. It is important to note that this is a common sign of aging and not a medical crisis.
Is it Safe to Buy -1 Reading Glasses at a Chemist?
There is no quick one-word yes or no answer to this question. In essence, yes, picking up an inexpensive pair of reading glasses with -1 magnification where you buy aspirin or cough medicine is safe. But safe is not necessarily good enough.
How reading glasses with -1 magnification impact you have a lot to do with how you use them. If you put the glasses on for a few minutes to read instructions on a cake mix, you probably will not notice any adverse effects. If you use your readers for several hours, you may experience soreness and headaches because of the extended wear. Likewise, if you purchase the wrong strength of readers, you may experience similar issues as well as blurry vision. Before purchasing any glasses, we recommend you take an eye test with us to get the best results from wearing glasses.
When someone’s vision is blurred after wearing reading glasses, they often ask, “Do glasses worsen your eyesight?” Generally, no. If you wear the right strength of readers for short amounts of time, you are not going to cause your eyesight to deteriorate.
Over-the-Counter Readers vs Prescription Readers
Concern over potential harm from over-the-counter reading glasses has helped spark a debate on whether prescription reading glasses are better than inexpensive ones.
Facts About Prescription Reading Glasses
Lenses are customised for your needs. Both eyes do not always require the same strength of correction.
Prescription readers are made to fit your head and face properly and comfortably.
The frames and lenses of prescription reading glasses are made of high-quality materials which allow an optician to adjust the fit.
The optical centres of prescription reading glasses are made to match with the optical centres of your eyes which helps fine-tune your vision.
Many prescription reading glass lenses can combine with lenses that correct other vision problems such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. Many people who have more than one vision issue appreciate the simplicity of having a single pair of glasses they can wear all day.
You may pay more for prescription -1 reading glasses, but the glasses will last longer because of the superior quality.
Facts About Over-the-Counter Reading Glasses
Non-prescription readers are limited in their correction powers. Most lenses come in +1.00, +1.50, +2.00 and +2.50. You may also be able to find readers in +1.25, +1.75 and +2.25.
Over-the-counter reading glasses cannot correct other vision problems. These glasses are limited to magnifying the words or other close-up work you want to see.
Non-prescription reading glasses provide the same amount of magnification to both eyes. For those whose eyes have significantly different correction needs, the same lens power for both eyes results in one eye working much harder than the other. These wearers experience headaches and even dizziness or nausea because of the imbalance.
Because every person has unique vision correction needs, over-the-counter reading glasses can work very well for some and be much less helpful for other wearers.
Struggling each day trying to read tiny print is enough to send anyone running to buy a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses. However, even if the readers help, you should not consider this a permanent solution. Contact us at E Eye Place to schedule an eye examination. Our professionals can guide you in choosing prescription or over-the-counter reading glasses and make sure your eyes are healthy.
** Please Note** The material presented here is for informational use only. It is not individual medical advice and should not take the place of an eye examination and consultation with a licensed Doctor of Optometry.
Stephanie is an owner optometrist, researcher and educator. She has held clinical, teaching and research roles in Australia and overseas, and has extensive training and clinical experience. Stephanie is also the head optometrist at E Eye Place, on top of this, she is also currently a PhD candidate at UNSW. Dr Stephanie Yeo Optometrist BOptom (HC1) GradCertOcTher DOPT (Merit) CO Ophthalmic Medicines Prescriber.