Are Reading Glasses From the Dollar Store Any Good?

Are Cheap Reading Glasses From the Dollar Store Any Good - Rebel Retirement

Are Dollar Store reading glasses bad for your eyes?

Perhaps you’ve been wondering that. I certainly have for years!

Let me explain.

Dollar Store reading glasses have been on my desk ever since a local anchorwoman for WWL-TV in New Orleans mentioned on air that she bought and kept several pairs around her house.

Because I was getting to the point in my life where the fine print was shrinking, her comment sounded like a good idea. 

For instance, you could buy several pairs of cheap reading glasses from the Dollar Store, and not concern yourself with the price.

That’s when I started wearing cheap readers.

I’ve been wearing Dollar Store glasses for a long time and haven’t had any problems.

Nevertheless, there are certain aspects to them that make them a questionable choice.

  • They’re mass-produced in China.
  • The lenses are made of cheap plastic.
  • You don’t need a prescription from an optometrist to buy them.

They’re stylish, but aren’t the most fashionable eyewear on the market. In other words, you get what you pay for.

However, I think the most important question is, “Will they harm our eyesight if we wear them?

Considering that, I thought it time to finally research whether or not they are harmful to our eyes. I needed to know if my frugality was doing more harm to my eyes, than good.

First, let’s understand what is happening to the “aging eye”. I’ll explain why, in middle-age, we start needing readers to focus on the fine print.

Why does the small print keep shrinking?

Most of us experience some changes in our vision as we get older. It first becomes noticeable when we encounter difficulty reading the small print on a shampoo bottle,  threading a needle, etc.

For many people, it starts around age 40.  Because of the inability to focus close-up, we begin holding reading material at arm’s length. This is sometimes jokingly referred to as “short-arm syndrome”.

What’s happening to our eyes as we get older is a condition called presbyopia. It’s age-related farsightedness caused by the loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. The muscles in the eye just don’t work as well as they used to.

Presbyopia is self-diagnosable and this age-related condition continues throughout middle-age.

Origin of Presbyopia, Reading Glasses - Rebel Retirement
In Greek presbus means“old man” and opus means “eye”. Put it all together and it translates to something like “seeing like an old man”.

There’s no cure – it’s a normal effect of the aging process. Although, exercises, such as yoga for the eyes, are helpful.

The good news is that once you hit 65, presbyopia doesn’t get any worse!

Eye doctors say inexpensive readers are okay.

The consensus is that cheap reading glasses are not harmful to your eyesight.

Websites like Harvard Health Publishing and Health Essentials, quote eye-doctors that say that cheap OTC (over-the-counter) reading glasses are perfectly fine for correcting presbyopia.

However, cheap reading glasses, also known as “cheaters”, work best when both of your eyes have the same refraction – meaning the same requirement for magnification.

If each eye is different, or you want bifocals, you’ll want to see an optometrist.

In addition, an eye-exam is suggested to rule out other conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, or macular-degeneration.

Now that we know cheap reading glasses are safe to use, let’s look at how to pick the right pair.

Determine what power of reading glasses you need?

Cheap reading glasses are an effective way to treat age-related presbyopia, but you’ll need to figure out what power you need before making a purchase.

Here are some tips to point you in the right direction.

  • Determine what you are using the reading glasses for
  • Use the eye chart at the reading glasses display
  • Try on several glasses with different magnifications

In the following video, Dr. Steve explains how “to pick a power” when choosing inexpensive reading glasses.

Selecting a pair of reading glasses is not only about getting the right magnification, it’s about the looks.

Which over-the-counter reading glasses look best on you?

You generally know what styles you are comfortable with.  Furthermore, you can try on several pairs to see which suits you.

While this may be true, it doesn’t hurt to have a little help before you do.

This video by Michele Phan has some awesome tips for selecting the best glasses for your face shape.

With that said, let’s consider what’s good about Dollar Store reading glasses.

What is good about dollar store reading glasses?

The price of course! They only cost $1.00.

Plus, they don’t require a prescription. They’re easy to obtain.

If you’re a budget-wise retiree, dollar store reading glasses are so inexpensive that you can buy them by the handful and not worry about misplacing or breaking them.

They’re cost-effective. You can select different styles and multiple colors without feeling guilty if it turns out that you don’t like them.

I buy several at a time and keep a pair at my computer desk, nightstand, and in the kitchen for reading recipes. A pair with higher magnification is at our sewing station.

However, I do find that the side pieces eventually break after about 9 months to a year of use. Then I must replace them.

Because of that, you may save money in the long run by purchasing a slightly more expensive pair, like the ones I’m offering below through our Amazon affiliate link.

These are the glasses of choice by Rebel Retiree. They come in a (4) pack, have excellent reviews, and are the #1 best selling reading glasses on Amazon (affiliate link)

Click over to see additional colors and diopter availability.

When you buy through this link, you won’t pay any more, but we’ll get a few cents from Amazon. Thank you!


The great news is that dollar store reading glasses will not harm your eyesight. And they’re ideal for the budget-minded. Therefore, you can purchase several pairs at a time without worrying about costs.

Retirees, and others with presbyopia, will be happy to know that a visit to an eye doctor isn’t necessary for a diagnosis.

Plus, you can buy reading glasses to correct the condition without a prescription.

Updated for clarity 4/20/2021. Since this post was first published, I’ve started purchasing reading glasses in packs of 3 from Amazon.

Where do you buy your reading glasses? Have you ever bought any from the dollar store? Please leave us a comment below.

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10 thoughts on “Are Reading Glasses From the Dollar Store Any Good?

  1. Bear says:

    I’m wearing a pair right now, though the 99 Cent store now went up to the $1.49 Store. But it was cheap and faster than going home. They just had some funky pink ones but idk I think glasses are fine to be funky fashion so a little wonky is right up my alley.

  2. Yoga Woman says:

    Hello Camille!

    I’m not sure that I understand what you mean when you say you would like to test a pair of reading glasses for your client. Please use our contact form to provide us with more information. We’ll be happy to answer. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  3. Laurence says:

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  4. Linda W. says:

    Every year, I go to the Dollar Store & buy 20 pairs of 300 power glasses. Different colors & diff’serent shapes. I place them all over my house. Around 1 year to 13 months they are all broken. That’s fine for me. I just make my annual trip back to the dollar store. I AM concerned that they are cheaply made & that they come from China. I’m allergic to adhesives and wonder what kind these glasses are made with. I balance the fear of China’s inferior materials with the anxiety I built up as I try to read something that is too small for me to see. Looking all over the house for 1 or 2 pair of expensive reading glasses drives me crazy ! It’s a ‘sticky situation’. I choose to go to the Dollar Store. I get variety, save money &, reduce my stress level. The only downside is that I must hold my breath while I’m shopping in the Dollar Store due to all the other toxic items they sell from China. My advice to everyone is find the $1.00 glasses & get out of the store as fast as you can. When you’re home , wash the glasses with soap & water before you use them.

    • Yoga Woman says:

      Hi Linda!

      I have a tendency to leave my glasses all around the house. That’s one reason I like Dollar Store glasses. They are so cheap, it doesn’t matter if I lose them! 😀

      Marlene, Yoga Woman

  5. Tim Cornwall says:

    BETTERMADEglasses do not fog up around the outside perimeter as quickly as the cheaper pair.Spend 5 or 10 dollars maximum

    • Yoga Woman says:

      Good point, Tim! I didn’t realize this is a problem with the cheaper readers. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  6. Thomas Butler says:

    Poor review! They are junk. They are made by melting the plastic to curve/diopter. Only the center of the lens is proper diopter. When reading the bottom of a page, the eye is looking through the lower part of the lens which is NOT the correct diopter and the eye adjusts/squints to compensate; same for when reading near/at the top of a page. Hold the DollarTree/cheap glasses about a foot from the eye and you will see the curvature of the lens. On a good quality pair of glasses, there is NO curve of the image; the page will always be in focus at all areas.

    • Yoga Woman says:

      Thanks for the super comment Thomas! I agree that they are junk in the sense that they are poorly made. But according to my research, they are okay if you are looking for a pair of cheap readers and both of your eyes have the same refraction. So far, they’ve been okay for me.

      Yoga Woman

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