Is it ok to buy glasses from the chemist or service station?

You’ve purchased a pair of reading glasses from a chemist or service station, compared to those from an optometrist. What’s the big deal, right?

Optometry Australia’s 2020 Vision Index Report found that 12 per cent of Australians wear non-prescription glasses, which leaps to 40 per cent for non-prescription sunglasses.

It’s easy for people to lean towards the convenient and low-cost purchase of over-the-counter glasses when they feel they may need a bit of help to see better, but what exactly are the risks, or benefits? Let’s find out.

Is there a difference between over-the-counter glasses and those from an optometrist?

Yes, there are a number of differences between the two.

Glasses found in chemists or service stations are often designed to do one task only - magnify what is in front of you. These mass-produced, cheap glasses may be suitable for people who need exactly the same assistance in both eyes, but they are not made to correct long-sightedness or more complex and common eye conditions including myopia and astigmatism.

To provide optimal vision, comfort and overall eye health, several factors are crucial to take into consideration when buying glasses. These include the position of your eyes, the position of the frame, and the distance between your pupils and the lenses.  When buying glasses off the shelf it is virtually impossible to meet these considerations.




Will over-the-counter glasses actually cause any harm?

Wearing over-the-counter glasses from the chemist or service station that are too strong for your eyes will likely not cause any long term damage, however they may result in a headache as discount glasses fail to accurately correct your vision. This will naturally  cause discomfort to your eyes.

While 87 per cent of Australians have had their eyes examined at least once by an optometrist in their lifetime, it is alarming that 13 per cent of people have never been to one. If you are experiencing eye strain from over-the-counter glasses, screens, or general day to day activities it is important to get your eyes examined.




Tips for safe use of over-the-counter glasses

Optometry Australia advises not to purchase over-the-counter glasses, instead Australians should visit an optometrist for a recommendation on whether or not glasses are suitable for their eyes, and if so, what strength is best.

If you currently own and wear a pair of over-the-counter glasses, a stronger lens is not always better, so reconsider a lens power that allows you to read something at a comfortable distance.

Over-the-counter glasses are designed to work for reading or looking at other things up close, and if you are using them to see far away you you should visit your local optometrist to discuss this.

You also want your glasses to be in perfect condition, so it's important to examine the glasses for any bubbles or distortions within the lenses. These faults could bother your eyes, resulting in the glasses doing more harm than good.

To find an optometrist and make an appointment for an eye examination near you click here.


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