Are Reading Glasses From the Dollar Store Any Good?

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

Are cheap reading glasses from the dollar store any good?

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

Let me explain.

Dollar store reading glasses have been on my desk ever since Sally-Ann Roberts, a local anchorwoman for WWL-TV in New OrIeans,  mentioned in a broadcast that she bought and kept several pairs around her house.

I was just getting to the point in my life where the fine print was shrinking. Her comment about buying dollar store reading glasses sounded like a good idea to me.

You could buy several pairs of cheap reading glasses from the dollar store, and not concern yourself with the costs.

I did just that, and so far, so good – I’ve been wearing them for a long time and haven’t had any problems with them.  But let’s face it. 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 won’t see any designer labels on them.

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

Considering that, I thought it high-time I do some research into whether or not they are harmful to your eyes. I needed to know if my frugality was doing more harm than good.

But first, let’s delve a bit into understanding what is happening to the “aging eye”.

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 an 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!

What do eye-doctors say about cheap reading glasses?

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

Harvard Health Publishing and Health Essentials, to name a couple of websites, quote eye-doctors that state that cheap OTC (over-the-counter) reading glasses are perfectly fine for correcting presbyopia.

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 of your eyes 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.

How do you determine what power of reading glasses you need?

Cheap reading glasses are an effective way to treat age-related presbyobia, 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.


Which reading glasses look the best on you?

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

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

But, 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 out-of-the-way, let get to 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.

They don’t require a prescription, and are easy to obtain.

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

They are 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 a 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.

It may be more practical and you may save money in the long run if you purchase slightly more expensive pairs, like the ones we are offering below through our Amazon affiliate link. They come in a (4) pack and are the #1 best selling reading glasses on Amazon. If you click over you can see the additional colors that they come in.


Presbyobia is an age-related condition that makes it difficult for aging eyes to focus. It begins in middle-age and progresses until age 65. Rebel retirees will be happy to note that you don’t need an eye-doctor to diagnose presbyopia, or a prescription to buy reading glasses to correct it.

The great news is that dollar store reading glasses are ideal for the budget-minded. They are economical – you can purchase several at a time without worry about costs. And most importantly, they will not harm your eyesight.

Wear 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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