Off-the-shelf reading glasses are extremely popular, largely because of their availability without an eye test and their cheap price. But are off-the-shelf glasses really a good alternative to prescription eyewear? Here are the pros and cons.
Off-the-shelf specs – the advantages
The main advantage to using off-the-shelf glasses is that they are typically much cheaper than prescription eyewear. You can buy them without having to have an eye test too, saving you money and also time.
If you're prone to losing your glasses or breaking them, off-the-shelf specs can offer a convenient replacement alternative while you wait for new prescription eyewear to be made.
Some supermarkets offer an online order service for off-the-shelf reading glasses so you can replace your specs without even leaving the house.
Off-the-shelf specs – the disadvantages
A visit to the optometrist is not just about determining the strength of the glasses you need; the optometrist is also trained to spot the early signs of serious eye conditions, such as glaucoma. This is why it is important that you have an eye test regularly, even if you decide to buy off-the-shelf glasses, rather than prescription eyewear.
Although your cheap off-the-shelf glasses may seem fine to use at first, you could soon discover that you are suffering from headaches and eye strain. This is because the vision in both your eyes is not the same, with one eye typically being stronger than the other. Prescription eyewear factors this in to the lenses you are prescribed, whereas off-the-shelf specs don't. In addition to these problems, you might even be damaging your vision for the long term by using glasses that are not suitable for your eyes.
The quality of off-the-shelf specs is very variable. This is reflected in the frames, as well as in the lenses. So even though you might initially pay a fraction of what you'd pay for prescription glasses, you could end up paying more in the long run, as you'll need to replace them much more frequently due to breakage. In addition, the choice of frames available for prescription eyewear is pretty much unlimited, whereas the frame choice for pre-made glasses tends to be very limited.
Although off-the-shelf glasses might at first seem to be a cheap and convenient alternative to visiting the optometrist for an eye test, prescription eyewear is usually of better quality and gives you the reassurance that you won't be damaging your sight every time you put on your glasses. Keep your eyes healthy and your vision sharp by visiting your optometrist for regular eye tests.