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Where should you get reading glasses? At a dollar store, or an optical retailer?

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Everybody knows you can get reading glasses at the dollar store for a dollar. Heck, if you’re a real bargain shopper you might even want to save a penny.

In that case, you can get them at the 99-cent store for 99-cents.

So if you can get reading glasses for a buck or for a penny less, why should you get them from an online optical retailer, where they would cost at least $6.95?

Because the $6.95 reading glasses you can get from an online optical retailer are more than seven times better than the reading glasses you can get from the dollar or 99-cent store.

A lot more.

Buying reading glasses at the dollar or 99-cent store might be penny wise, but it’s pound foolish.

Here’s why. The reading glasses you get at the dollar or 99-cent store don’t have: Your exact prescription. Your exact pupillary distance (PD). Your exact frame size. Anti-reflective (AR) coating.

OK, if you get AR coating, they’re going to cost a little more, but it’ll be worth it. AR coating greatly reduces glare from external light sources as well as reducing eyestrain from long sessions on a computer.

A 10-percent pink tint on the lenses will help reduce eyestrain, too.

Now let’s break down all these categories – prescription, PD, frame size, AR coating, and tint – and examine how getting a pair of reading glasses made to order at an online optical retailer is better in all of these respects than buying a pair at the drug, dollar, or 99-cent store.

Prescription: You can’t enter your exact prescription in the reading glasses you buy off the shelf. They will have the same magnification in each lens. But most people have different prescriptions for each eye.

If you need +3.00 in your right eye and +2.75 in your left eye, you won’t be able to customize off-the-shelf glasses accordingly, unless you buy a +3.00 pair and a +2.75 pair, and switch the lenses yourself, assuming that you can get the lens out of one frame and into the other, and make it stay there without breaking a lens or the frame.

When you buy your reading glasses at an online optical retailer, you can enter your exact magnification for each eye. In addition, your prescription may call for an astigmatism correction (that’s when the prescription has Cylinder and Axis numbers).

You won’t be able to get this on a pair of drug, dollar, or 99-cent store readers, because those eyeglasses don’t have astigmatism corrections. Consequently, everything you see will be blurry, either a little or a lot, depending on your astigmatism.

At an online optical retailer, you can enter your exact Cylinder and Axis numbers to correct your astigmatism.

PD:

Your pupillary distance (PD) is crucial when ordering prescription eyewear, including reading magnification eyeglasses.

The PD is the measurement from the center of one pupil to the other. The PD determines where the optical center should be placed on each lens. The reading-vision optical center should be right in front of your pupils when you read. But your PD won’t be accommodated by a pair of off-the-shelf reading glasses. You won’t even know what the PD is, because there’s no indication of the PD on reading glasses you get at the drug, dollar, or 99-cent store.

The reading glasses you get off the shelf will have an average PD on the lenses, based on the size of the frame.
If you’re looking through a pair of reading glasses that has a wider or narrower PD than yours, it will hamper your ability to see well with the glasses. You may get headaches and eyestrain, too.

When you buy your glasses at an online optical retailer, you select a frame that accommodates your PD. When they make the glasses, they use your PD to determine the placement of the optical center on each lens, giving you the clearest, crispest vision.

Frame size:

The comedian Alan King had a saying about the difference between what the English call “bespoke” (custom-made) suits and those that are purchased off the rack. King would say, “If it’s off the neck, it’s off the rack.”

The same principle applies with eyeglass frames. You take your chances with frames you pull off the rack at the drug, dollar, or 99-cent store. You may not find one in a style you like, or one that fits you well.
At an online optical retailer, you can select a frame in the size – not to mention style – that suits you.

AR (anti-reflective) coating:

Store-bought reading glasses don’t have AR coating. Glasses at online optical retailers do. It’s a great extra to order for reading or computer glasses, because it reduces glare.

Tint:

You’re not going to find reading glasses at the drug, dollar, or 99-cent store that have a 10-percent pink tint on the lenses. If you’re going to spend a lot of time reading on a computer screen, this tint percentage and color would be a good feature to have, since it’s restful and helps reduce eyestrain.
This completes our examination of the relative merits of store-bought reading glasses and online-optical-retailer-bought reading glasses.

Let’s review. Store-bought reading glasses don’t have your exact prescription, PD, frame size, AR coating, and 10-percent pink tint.

Glasses purchased online do. Not much of a contest, is it? It’s hard to build suspense when the results are so lopsided, but the winner is …

You, with a pair of customized reading glasses that include your prescription, PD, frame size, AR coating, and 10-percent pink tint.

Good luck!

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