Why do we need reading glasses as we get older?

As we enter our forties, the lens inside our eyes get stiffer. This means that it becomes increasingly difficult for you to focus on things close up, like books, menus and phone screens. You’ll find yourself having to hold things further away to see them more clearly. This is called presbyopia – a natural consequence of ageing.


Can I wear ready-made glasses?

If you have presbyopia, you’ll need reading glasses to bring things back into focus for you. Ready-made reading glasses, also known as readymades, are designed to correct presbyopia and are suitable only as a back up to prescribed  glasses for reading. Ready-mades will not harm your eyes but never wear them for watching TV, computer work or driving. They are available in many shops without the need for a prescription, however  they are never as clear to look through as reading glasses from your Optometrist. Prescription reading glasses can also be custom made to allow you to read at a range of distances and with coatings that can reduce glare and boost visual comfort.


Do you recommend wearing ready-made glasses?

We recommend that if you need reading glasses then you should have a pair of glasses made specifically for you, to your prescription, especially if you do a lot of close work. The lenses of your prescription glasses will sit correctly in front of your eyes, so you look through the centre of them and the frame will fit you well, which makes your vision more comfortable. In addition the lenses will be made from a higher quality optical material , giving clearer vision. Ready-mades are suitable for using as a spare pair for reading only.


What are the benefits of ready-made glasses?
  • They are made to correct presbyopia so are suitable if you need glasses for reading only.
  • Can be useful as spare glasses when you are out and about, shopping, reading menus, maps and phone screens.
  • As they are relatively cheap to buy you can have several pairs and it doesn’t matter too much if you lose them.


What are the disadvantages of ready-mades?
  • They are a “one size fits all”, so the frame may not fit you & you may not be looking through the centre of the lenses, which can cause headaches or eye strain.
  • The lenses in both eyes are the same, so aren’t suitable if the sight in one eye is different from the other.
  • They do not correct astigmatism, where the eye is shaped a bit like a rugby ball than a football, which can distort both your distance and near vision. Your vision will still be distorted, even though it may be clearer if you wear readymades.

It’s also worth noting that in a recent study carried out by Professor David Elliott at the University of Bradford, it was found that:

  • Only just over half of all ready-mades studied met the relevant optical quality required by British and European Standards.
  • More powerful ready-mades, those powered +3.50 and above were more likely to have errors.
  • Many of the glasses would have been improved if the lenses had been fitted into the frames, so that the centre of the lenses fitted the average UK person.


Do I need eye tests if I wear ready-made glasses?

It’s still important to have regular eye tests, especially as you get older as you are more likely to develop eye conditions, such as glaucoma, which does not cause any symptoms in the early stages. Treatment is more effective if conditions are caught early, so we recommend you have an eye test at least every two years.


Sources: The College of Optometrists & www.lookafteryoureyes.org