Are cheap reading glasses from the Dollar Store any good?
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.
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 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.
How do you 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 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.