Posted by Neharika Sabharwal on October 29, 2010

When it comes to picking a pair of reading glasses, never opt for cheap merchandise because low-end reading glasses can cause more damage to the eyes than good, claims a new study.

According to consumers experts, you may be saving some cash when choosing off-the-shelf ready reader glasses, but in the long run you may be exposing your eyes to greater risk of strain, blurred vision, headaches, double vision or even an accident.

In addition, unlike prescription glasses which are designed to fit the face and have the correct lenses to meet the sight requirements, a cheap version has low UV protection, poor lenses that scratch easily and weaker frames that snap and fall apart when used regularly.

Some major flaws unearthed
A product-testing charity "Which?" in UK, investigated the quality of 14 pairs of low and high prescription reading glasses from 7 high street stores.

The shops included were Poundland, Primark, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Foster Grant at Superdrug, Sight Station and regional chain Tiger.

The Which? expert who carried out the examination discovered major problems with more half the pairs examined. The flaws were more evident in glasses with stronger prescriptions (+3.5 to +4).

Another problem was non-alignment, which meant that while there was clarity for one eye, the sight in other blurred.

The optometrist found that while the prescription was faulty in a pair of glasses from Poundland, glasses from Sight Station (£16) and Tiger (£4) had optical centers at different heights.

In addition, the lenses in a £15 pair from Marks & Spencer were ill-fitted and likely to drop out.

The expert warned, "Off-the-peg glasses could cause eye strain, blurred vision, headaches or double vision.

"For people with higher prescriptions, they're not suitable for walking or other mobile activities. They could even cause a nasty accident.”

A word of advice
According to experts, before purchasing reading glasses a proper eye test is vital.

Also, they advise people with a prescription above +2 to read with glasses for a few minutes to ascertain whether they are comfortable and that the center points of each lens are aligned correctly.

David Craig, director of operations at the Association of Optometrists (AOP) stated, “Regular sight tests, especially for the population who wear ready readers (who tend to be over 45 – when nature leads most of us down the path of presbyopia and when more serious eye conditions start to become more frequent), are very important – not just for the issuing of a correct prescription, but also because it provides a good health check of our eyes and can even detect other, sometimes fatal, conditions, such as brain tumours.

“It is very important that these people understand that as they get older they need to have regular sight tests, at least every two years, in order to detect any potentially serious conditions early.”

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