Saturday 27 May 2017

Sponsored feature: Off the shelf 'ready readers' open your eyes to the risks

Are you tempted to buy cheap reading glasses? Open your eyes to the risks, is the advice from the experts.

Costing as little as €3, it’s easy to see the appeal of over-the-counter reading glasses or ‘ready readers’ as they are known. There is no need for an eye test. You can walk in off the street and buy a pair. They may save you money in the short term, but they could lead to other problems with your vision and even conceal potentially sight threatening conditions.

‘Ready readers’, as they are known, are aimed at the over-40s — those who find they have to start holding the page away from them when they are reading.

This can be due to an age-related condition called presbyopia and is caused by the lens in the eye losing its elasticity so that it becomes harder for the eye to switch from focusing on things at a distance to small close-up images such as print on a page.

The major drawback of purchasing “off the shelf” pharmacy reading glasses is that they are essentially “one-size-fits-all”.? The prescription is the same in both lenses, and the location of the optical centre of the lens is not customised as it would be in prescription glasses, say the experts.

Most people don’t have exactly the same prescription for both eyes, and almost everyone has a small amount of astigmatism correction in their prescriptions, say optometrists.? Headaches, eyestrain, and even nausea can result from wearing glasses that are too far off your actual prescription or have optical centres too far away from the centre of your pupils.

The other, more serious problem with “ready made” reading glasses, warn optometrists, is why people purchase them. If you are the kind of person that doesn’t want to bother getting an eye test, you could be ignoring a complaint that’s more serious than you thought, for example glaucoma that can be treated, but only if it is caught on time.

“An eye test measures the exact prescription that you require,” says Specsavers Optometrist Jill Campbell. “Prescription spectacles supplied by an optician will be made specifically for you?and will be?fitted so that the lenses are centered in front of your eyes. This will give you the maximum benefit and best visual performance.”

“Ready readers assume that your eyes have the same prescription in each eye and they are not measured or fitted?to ensure that the lens?is positioned?correctly”

Elizabeth Lumb, also an optometrist with Specsavers, says that an eye examination is essential. “The prescription you are issued with at the end of an eye examination is pretty unique and will identify any differences between your eyes. In addition to this, opticians take specific measurements that enable the spectacle lenses to be set up in front of your eyes at the correct position.? Readymade reading glasses do not take either of these things into consideration so are not ideal as a main set of glasses to rely on. They can give you headaches and eyestrain.?“

Furthermore, Off-the-shelf ready reader glasses can cause eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, double vision or even an accident, consumer experts have warned. A Which? Magazine optometrist checked the quality and prescription of 14 pairs of reading glasses from seven high street stores in the UK for a recent survey and found problems in half of them. The survey concluded that almost one in five people wear Ready Readers for non-reading activities, such as decorating. "For people with higher prescriptions, they are not suitable for walking or other mobile activities."

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