- By Mary Bemis
Once the dowdy domain of the uncool, reading glasses (aka readymades) underwent a fashion makeover a decade ago. Having been introduced in designer clothing stores and trendy boutiques, they're now sold everywhere, from Whole Foods Market to Target to Costco, and on numerous websites, like trendyglasses.net and readingglasses.com. With such ubiquity, some of the coolest of the cool can be found for a mere $19.95, though expect to pay up to $75. At those non-prescription prices, you can afford to make several fashion statements. By picking up a few pairs you can dress for whatever mood you're in, be it sophisticated, bookish, sassy or sexy. Or color coordinate them with your outfits.
Before you toss off your prescription glasses for less expensive readymades, know what you're getting, and if you should even be wearing them. Because you may not get to consult an optometrist when you buy a pair — certainly not if you order them online —we asked the doctor for you.
Are Designer Reading Glasses for Everyone?
"Wearing inexpensive glasses won't harm your eyes, but not everyone can wear them," says Dr. Thomas Steinemann, professor of ophthalmology at Metro Health Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. "Some people need prescription lenses to help them see clearly." Before buying reading glasses, Steineman recommends you have an eye exam to make sure reading glasses will work for you.
But if you are simply losing the ability to focus up close, then a basic magnifier will do the trick. A little experimenting with different degrees of magnification ("diopter strength") will lead you to the right choice. Be sure to try magnifiers while reading both a book and a computer screen (you'll probably notice a difference).
Steinemann offers this tip to people who just need drugstore/fashion readers and are glued to the computer most of the day: Choose a pair of specs for computing that’s roughly half the strength you’d use for close reading. For example, if you’d normally wear a +3.00, opt for a +1.50 for computer use.
And while you’re deciding between artist, femme fatale and professor, remember that frames need to fit your face comfortably and not slide down on your nose or leave marks.
That's not the fashion statement anyone wants to make, no matter how hip or affordable.