Prescription Glasses vs. OTC Reading Glasses

Prescription Glasses vs. OTC Reading Glasses

If you’re reading this, you’re probably over the age of 35. How did we know? Because here at Stoggles, we know a thing or two about eyes, and one of those things is presbyopia or age-related vision loss. Most people don’t foray into the world of reading glasses until they find they can’t see material close up like they used to.

Once you realize you’re having vision problems, you might consider going to your eye doctor for an eye exam. In fact, you should really be having eye exams yearly to make sure your eye health is protected. Once you know what your vision correction needs are, you’ve got options: prescription glasses or over-the-counter readers. 

We’ll help you understand the differences between both, and which is right for you. We’ll also give you the tea on a new, hybrid style of eyewear that offers vision correction, safety features, and comfort all in one super stylish frame and lens combination. 

What Are Some Main Vision Issues?

Vision issues are common. Refractive errors account for the most commonly treated vision-related issues. Refractive errors cause you to experience blurry vision with objects that are close up, far away, and in the middle distance. 

  • Myopia. This is the most common type of refractive error. It’s also referred to as nearsightedness, because you’re able to see objects close up but not far away. 
  • Hyperopia. This condition is the opposite of myopia. Referred to as farsightedness, it causes you to be able to see objects far away, but makes objects close up harder to see. Hyperopia occurs because of an issue with the shape of the cornea and is not due to the natural aging process.
  • Astigmatism. This type of refractive error occurs when the lens of the eye is misshapen. To correct this issue, you’ll need prescription eyeglasses that have a cylindrical lens. 
  • Presbyopia. Your optometrist may diagnose you with presbyopia if you are over age 35 and have never had vision problems before. This age-related vision loss occurs because the lens in the eye gradually loses its function. Everyone (and we mean everyone) gets presbyopia, usually by age 45. 

Depending on the type of vision correction you need, you might have to wear prescription eyeglasses. However, if presbyopia is your only issue, you might be able to get away with reading glasses for a while. 

What Are Reading Glasses?

Reading glasses are designed to help you see objects that are close up, like your smartphone or a book. Reading glasses work like a magnifying glass, making the text you are looking at larger over your uncorrected vision. 

In other words, reading glasses don’t correct your vision and help you see clearly, they simply amplify what you’re looking at. Often called “cheaters,” these glasses essentially give you the ability to put off prescription lenses for a few more years, provided you don’t have any other vision issues that need correcting. 

These glasses provide different levels of magnification, usually between +1 to +5. You can find an inexpensive pair of reading glasses at your local drugstore, but keep in mind that the lens quality and frame materials are likely to be much less durable than a pair of prescription reading glasses or prescription glasses. That said, it’s worth noting that there’s no need to get data like your PD or segment height in order to get the prescription to feel right — the magnification is simple and straightforward.

What Are Prescription Glasses?

Prescription glasses are glasses that are designed to correct your personal vision needs. In other words, if you have myopia, hyperopia, or astigmatism, a pair of prescription glasses will correct those vision issues by using specialized lenses that redirect light to the front of your retina. 

It’s impossible for reading glasses to do this since they only provide magnification. The lenses in reading glasses are not shaped or capable of redirecting light to your retina. 

Bottom line: reading glasses magnify, prescription glasses correct. Seems pretty cut and dry, right? Wrong. 

What Are Prescription Reading Glasses?

Yes. It’s possible to get prescription reading glasses… but they aren’t what you might think. Prescription readers aren’t just reading glasses your eye doctor prescribes. These are glasses that correct your vision and magnify objects close up. 

Let’s say you have astigmatism and you’ve developed presbyopia. Your eye doctor will write you a prescription for eyewear that contains a cylindrical lens with your specific diopter needs in each eye. Then, they’ll offer a reading lens prescription, which will also be measured in diopters (strengths). The result is a combination of eyewear that corrects your refractive errors so your vision is not blurry and magnifies the text in front of you so you can see it clearly. 

Wait, Are Prescription Reading Glasses Bifocals?

If you need multi-vision lenses, or lenses that correct more than one field of vision, you probably think you’re doomed to a life of fully lined bifocals or trifocals. Thankfully, that is not the case. New technology has brought us progressive lenses, which offer multi-vision correction on one lens with no visible lines or delineation. 

Progressive lenses are comfortable, but they do take some getting used to. They can correct up to three fields of vision at once. Usually, this means you’ll train your eyes to look through the top part (upper half) of your eyeglasses when you need to view objects in the distance. You’ll look through the middle portion of your eyewear for objects in the middle distance and the lower part (bottom half) for reading magnification. 

It sounds complicated, but you’d be surprised how easy it is for your eyes to adjust.

What About Contact Lenses?

Your eye care provider can help you determine if contact lenses are a good solution for you. Some refractive errors may need correction that is better suited for glasses, however, it is possible to get vision correction and reading amplification in a multifocal contact lens. 

If you are not a current contact lens wearer, keep in mind that wearing them (learning to put them in and take them out) takes time. It’s good to have a backup pair of eyeglasses while your eyes adjust. 

What If Your Vision Isn’t Blurry, But Your Eyes Hurt?

Eyes that feel dry, itchy, and sore can be a symptom of eye strain or computer vision syndrome. These issues happen from sitting in front of a screen for hours at a time or from reading or other tedious work. 

If you don’t need vision correction but still experience eye strain, you’d likely benefit from blue light-blocking glasses. These glasses filter out blue light that is emitted from the sun but also from screens like your smartphone, laptop, tablet, and LED television. Some non-prescription reading glasses offer blue light-blocking coatings, but these coatings typically wear off easily. 

A better solution for getting the vision correction you need, the magnification you want, and blue light safety? Stoggles.

Stoggles: All-In-One Eyewear

Ditch your OTC readers and tell your ophthalmologist you’ll be taking your prescription somewhere other than the retail store connected to their office. Take your script over to Stoggles and upload it to our website. There, you can get progressive vision correction lenses or reading magnifiers that are high-quality and incredibly stylish, and have added benefits to keep your eyes safe.

Each pair of Stoggles is created with your vision safety in mind. As such, you’ll find each pair comes with some serious safety features. We also offer Readers, which don’t require you to have your prescription with you.

ANSI Z87.1-2020 Certification 

Whether you’re wearing your prescription eyewear or over-the-counter reading glasses, they won’t protect your eyes from a strike, scrape, or splatter. Wearing them while cleaning with chemicals, doing lawn work, tackling a home improvement project, or even playing a pickup game of ball can present an opportunity for an eye injury.

Stoggles are all tested to the ANSI Z87.1-2020 standard, so your eyes can stay safe. 

Fog Protection 

Fogging glasses are a hassle, and it’s also unsafe. Every pair of Stoggles comes standard with an anti-fog compound sealed onto the lens so you get fog protection that lasts.

UV Protection

UV light is damaging to your eyes, and even wearing sunglasses might not be enough. The level of tint on your glasses does not equate to the level of UV protection you’re getting. For instance, standard Stoggles are made from non-tinted, crystal-clear polycarbonate material, which is naturally UV-blocking. 

If you want shade, try Sun Polarized Stoggles, which give you the perfect level of shade to keep you comfortable in the sun. They’re also polarized to reduce glare. If you prefer a transition-style lens, opt for Stoggles Dimmers®, which darken in response to UV light and return to clear when the light is gone. 

Blue Light Blockers

Unlike blue light blocking coating, which can easily wear off, Stoggles are created with blue light filtering compound injected into the lenses at the time of manufacture. This keeps blue light away from your eyes and can reduce the amount of eye strain and fatigue you experience when you have a long day in front of your screen. 

Side and Top Shields

Safety eyewear should keep your eyes safe on all sides, and Stoggles uses side and top shields to give your eyes 360-degree protection. Some safety glasses rely on wraparound-style lenses to cover these areas, but if you need prescription protection, the wraparound style could interfere and cause the prescription to warp. 

Style and Comfort

Be honest. You aren’t going to wear safety eyewear (or any eyewear) that isn’t comfortable or stylish. That’s probably why you’re rethinking reading glasses. We get it. We don’t think you should have to pick one or the other. That’s why we’re here. Stoggles offers superior style, safety, and comfort that is unmatched in the safety eyewear industry. 

Stop Squinting, Start Stoggling 

When you’re in the market for new eyewear, we have you covered. Stoggles is a one-stop shop for eyewear that keeps your eyes safe and your style on point. And if you need vision correction or reading amplification, they can do that too. 


Presbyopia | National Eye Institute

Refractive Errors | National Eye Institute

Non-Prescription 'Cheaters' vs. Prescription Glasses | Cleveland

[Progressive lenses, history and comfort factors] | PubMed

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