Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cheap reading glasses may be hazardous to your health

I've been using reading glasses for several years, and thought that the availability of cheap versions in supermarkets and pharmacies was something for which to be thankful. However, it now seems that there may be hidden dangers. The Daily Mail reports:

By the age of 50, most adults have problems reading a book or newspaper without spectacles.

So the arrival of the cheap glasses in supermarkets, high street stores and market stalls less than ten years ago has been seen as a saviour for many.

A consumer might have to pay more than £100 for a pair of reading glasses from an optician, which might easily be lost or broken.

Instead, many buy several cheap versions to stash around the house so that they can always find a pair.

A researcher at consumer champion Which? checked 14 pairs from seven high street chains.

He found problems with half of them, with those carrying a higher prescription – +3.5 to +4 – considered to cause the most concern.

‘Off-the-peg glasses could cause eye strain, blurred vision, headaches or double vision,’ the Which? researcher said.

‘For people with higher prescriptions, they’re not suitable for walking or other mobile activities.’

They could even ‘cause a nasty accident’, he warned.

The biggest problem is that the centre point of the two lenses might not be aligned.

. . .

‘This could cause eye problems or a head tilt,’ the researcher said.

. . .

Which? advises people who have a prescription above +2 to test reading glasses for two minutes to check the centre points of each lens are aligned correctly.

Opticians say eye examinations are essential before buying glasses. As well as ensuring the correct prescription is used, they can detect serious health issues, such as cataracts and brain tumours.

There's more at the link.

*Sigh* . . . I guess I'd better make another appointment with an optician to get an accurate measurement of what strength readers I need. My last one was over five years ago, and since then I'd been relying on self-selecting cheap reading glasses at the supermarket. I guess that wasn't such a good idea.

(Oh - and a big "Thank you!" to the Daily Mail and Which? for alerting us to the risks involved.)



Anonymous said...

A bit of advice from a near-lifelong wearer of corrective lenses: Go and consult an ophthalmologist - a medical doctor who is a specialist in the eye and its appurtenant structures, and the mechanics and diseases/malfunctions that are or may be involved - or, at the very least, an optometrist, who is very nearly at the level of an ophthalmologist in skills and knowledge about eyes and eyesight.

An optician makes or modifies and fits eyeglasses and/or contact lenses - ophthalmologists and optometrists deal with eyes and eyesight, and are much more qualified to diagnose and prescribe needed corrections.

Anonymous said...

Another issue is that problems with eyesight can be a symptom of undiagnosed diabetes. An optometrist will pick this up whereas the checkout operator won't.


Old NFO said...

Good post and good points Peter, thanks!