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Do You Need Reader Glasses, Or A Prescription From An Eye Doctor?

There comes a time in middle age when you have a decision to make. Even if you had good vision all your life, your eyes start to let you down. It’s inevitable. But it’s your choice how you want to respond.

At this early stage, when it’s mostly a matter of reading, there are really two options: readers (also affectionately known as cheaters), or going for the gusto and getting prescription glasses. The way I see it, there are pros and cons to both.

The readers/cheaters are cheap, so you won’t hate yourself if you lose them. They’re also inexpensive enough to buy several pairs and scatter them around so you’ll always have them when needed. A downside is that no one wants to look like a granny! I can’t shake the image in my head of an old woman with reading glasses slipping down her nose; or worse yet, on a chain around her neck.

The downside of going prescription is the high price. It also requires the hassle of getting your eyes dilated and undergoing a full exam, which becomes tiresome. And if you don’t ‘focus’ your attention properly it can impact the prescription. A nice pair of glasses are costly too. With the glare protection and options for progressive lenses and so on. It’s an investment.

Reader glasses come in a variety of strengths

If you find yourself wondering what to do, the Cleveland Clinic provides some clarity.

Their experts suggest an eye exam either way to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues that may be hindering your vision. For the vast majority of folks, doctors say OTC readers should not be a problem.

Here are their suggestions of next steps:

  • Find the right power. Reading glasses will have signs or stickers noting their power. In most cases, they range from +1 to +4 in increments of +.25. Look for what matches your prescription. If you don’t have a prescription, try the lowest power (+1) first.
  • Test-drive the glasses. If you’ve brought reading material with you, try reading it at a comfortable length. (Many eyeglass displays have an eye chart, too, to test the glasses). Try different powers until you can read clearly at a distance that’s most comfortable for you.
  • Go big the first time. While there are many styles and colors to choose from, you may want to start your reading glass journey with a bigger pair of specs. Larger lenses offer more of a “sweet spot” from which the prescription actually magnifies. It’s easier to use a smaller lens once you get used to wearing glasses.

As a side note, I am clearly not the only woman who is a teensy bit reluctant to be seen in a pair of unsightly readers. The online brand Look Optic is built on the premise of upgrading reading glasses. Styles are really cool and most are under $100 — generally in the $60 range. They are trendy enough to feel good about yourself while less expensive than paying for specialized lenses if you don’t really need them.

The choice is yours! How do you want to see and be seen?

What do you think?


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