Why You Shouldn’t Buy Over-the-Counter Reading Glasses

by Chris Cehlarik

If you’re in your late thirties, you may notice that small print is getting harder to read. This is a completely normal condition called presbyopia, and it happens to almost everyone lucky enough to live a long life. To make reading easier, you may be tempted to pick up some reading glasses at a drug store, dollar shop, or another retailer that doesn’t specialize in optics. Buying these ‘readers’ can be a terrible idea for several reasons.

Lack of Eye Exams
People who use over-the-counter reading glasses may be lulled into thinking that they don’t need regular eye exams. After all, your reading problem is being solved by the glasses, so why do you need an exam? Optometrists look for signs of cataracts, glaucoma, ocular cancer, and retinal disease with every exam. Diabetes can also be diagnosed by an optometrist should he or she detect diabetic retinopathy. By avoiding these exams, you are placing yourself and your vision at risk.

Choosing the Wrong Power
Simply trying on reading glasses until you find a pair that seems to work is a poor way to correct your vision. If you under-correct your vision, you could experience nausea, dizziness, headaches, eye strain, and dry eyes. All of these symptoms can also be caused by over-correcting with a pair of readers that are too strong for you. You are simply not qualified to correct your own vision with any degree of success.

Lack of Ocular Symmetry
Your eyes are not always a matched set. It is not uncommon at all for there to be a difference in prescription between your eyes. However, over-the-counter readers have the same power of magnification in both lenses. If this is inappropriate for you, all of the unpleasant side effects of over- and under-correction can happen.

Poor Materials
Some readers can be bought for a dollar. Do you really want something constructed that cheaply on your face? Lots of over-the-counter reading glasses frames are made with hard plastic that is unsuitable for eyewear. It cannot be adjusted to fit properly and can rub or pinch your nose and ears. Other manufacturers use soft, pliable plastic that is also unsuitable for eyeglasses. These can harbor bacteria and give you an infection on your face or ears. With all reading glasses not purchased at an optical center, you run the risk of having an allergic reaction to the materials. Itching, redness, and even blisters are possible outcomes. None of these are pleasant and can make wearing glasses of any kind quite uncomfortable until you heal.

No UV Protection
Quality optical materials often include protection from ultraviolet light as a matter of course. UV rays can damage your eyes, are known to cause cancer, and also accelerate the aging process of your skin. Over-the-counter readers usually don’t offer any protection against UV and, to make matters worse, the magnification can actually intensify the rays. Crow’s feet and cataracts await you.

Only a licensed optometrist is qualified to diagnose your presbyopia and prescribe appropriate reading glasses. The glasses you buy from an optical store are higher quality and provide many more benefits than those sold over-the-counter at other retailers. The protection of your sight and skin is worth the additional expense.

Can You Really Get Sunburn on Your Eyeballs?

by Colleen McMahon

Most people have suffered sunburn on their faces, and even their eyelids after a long nap in the sun, but did you know that your eyeballs can also be sunburned? Anderson Cooper discovered this recently after a few hours on a boat in Portugal (Anderson Cooper Story). He woke up that night suffering pain and a gritty feeling in his eyes, and soon discovered that he had a condition called photokeratitis, damage to the surface of the eye caused by exposure to strong light.

Since we don’t generally stare directly at the sun, photokeratitis usually results from spending time on a surface that strongly reflects the rays of the sun, such as snow or water, with your eyes unprotected. The form of photokeratitis most people have heard of is snow blindness. Welders can suffer a version called “arc eye” or “welder’s flash”. All the different names refer to this same condition.

Photokeratitis, like sunburn, usually occurs painlessly. The pain begins several hours after exposure, and can become quite severe. Although reports said that Cooper was “temporarily blind”, the condition does not cause actual blindness. Rather, it becomes too painful to open the eyes. The surface of the eye, called the cornea, will heal itself if left alone. Like the skin, it needs time to get rid of the damaged cells and create new ones, and as that happens the pain will decrease and finally go away.

If you find you have photokeratitis after being exposed to strong sunlight, the best cure is simply time. Eye doctors suggest lubricating eyedrops to ease the feeling of dryness, and spending time in a darkened room, resting, without using the eyes to read or watch television.

Not only can this condition ruin several days of a vacation, it can cause long term damage, leading to loss of vision from macular degeneration, or even cancerous growths in or around the eyes.

The best step to take against photokeratitis is not to get it at all. For this reason, a high quality pair of sunglasses or goggles is a must when skiing, sailing, or sunning on a beach. Look for sunglasses that block 95 per cent or more of both types of ultraviolet rays (A and B). Make sure the lenses are big enough to cover the area around the eyes. The most protective styles have wrap around frames that also block rays bouncing toward the eyes from the sides. Remember that ultraviolet rays are not blocked by clouds, so make sure to wear your eye protection even on cloudy days. This simple step will help insure you won’t experience the painful awakening that Anderson Cooper did!

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Eyecare Max in Davenport, Iowa has over 4000 frames in all price ranges, plus over 50 upscale boutique brands in stock. Along with cutting edge eye examinations from Dr. David McManis, Eyecare Max is the obvious best choice for eye care, and to find your unique look! Check them out at their location on 53rd Street in Davenport, next to Texas Roadhouse.