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Over-the-Counter Readers. Are they helpful or harmful? | Long Island Eye Doctor

Joel Kestenbaum, OD

Over-the-Counter Readers. Are they helpful or harmful?

Everywhere we shop we are exposed to over-the-counter readers. They are in all the drug stores, supermarkets, department stores, big-box retailers and even in eye doctor’s offices. They come in so many sizes and colors that it is hard to resist the temptation of buying one or a box full of these “cheap readers.” And yes, there are differences in the quality of these eyeglasses and the vision a person gets from them.

The biggest danger in over-the-counter readers is that a person will not get their eyes examined. When a person thinks he or she can see, there is a false sense of security that the eyes are healthy. But there are eye diseases, like glaucoma, that are what we call silent diseases that can rob your sight without any symptoms.

Eyestrain, headaches, glare, prescription changes, and fatigue are just a few of the symptoms that can be caused by over-the-counter readers. Why does this happen? Over-the-counter readers make the assumption that a person has the same prescription in each eye. The truth is that most people have different prescriptions in each eye.

What else? Cheap readers assume that all people are built alike. Again, not true. One of the most important measurements that an eyecare professional takes before fabricating eyeglasses is the distance between your eyes. Do you know if the lens magnification in over-the-counter glasses is centered in front of your eyes?

OTC readers are not all bad. They can be used to read a map, a menu or even take out a splinter. But I personally would never use them to read a book or work at a computer. Short term use only or for emergencies……..that’s it.

Have your eyes examined regularly. Let your eye doctor recommend the proper correction for your eyes.

Dr. Joel Kestenbaum

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