Welcome to question of the day #403

Eyetool question of the day #403

In my community eye care practice I see a lot of new patients. Many of them are using ready readers. Most use them for reading and some use one strength for distance vision and a greater strength for reading. They are happy to have an eye examination for a health check on their eyes but want to continue using ready readers and not have what I call ‘proper’ glasses. Do you have any tips?

I have experience of this as well. Ready readers are of course mass-produced glasses using cheap frame and lens materials. Each lens has the same power and the lens centres are set for the average person. They appeal to people because they are readily available in all sorts of different shops, they are much cheaper than proper glasses, and when people put them on they can usually see better with them than without them; after they have self-tested themselves by trying different strengths.

When I’m examining a person who uses ready readers I highlight any difference in vision and/or visual acuity between the eyes. Most people have one eye that sees better than the other one. I quickly cover and uncover each eye to demonstrate this difference between the eyes.

I then say:

‘Can you see how your eyes are different? The right (or left) eye is weaker than the left (or right) eye and needs a stronger lens. The lenses in your ready readers (I often call them off-the-shelf glasses or factory glasses) are identical (the same) to each other this is why they are so cheap. We can see that your eyes are different.’

I then work out what prescription lenses they need and again mention that one eye needs a more powerful lens than the other one. If there is some astigmatism I sometimes mention that they have it and their factory glasses don’t correct for this. I’m careful though not to overload the person with information.

Once I have worked out their prescription I show the person how well they can see with those lenses compared to their factory glasses.

When I measure the pupillary distance I say:

‘I’m measuring exactly where to line up the centre of the lenses with the centre of your eyes. It’s very important that you are looking through the centre of the lenses so you get the best possible vision. Your factory glasses don’t do this and your eyes and lenses won’t be lined up properly.’

Finally, I say:

‘It’s time for you to have proper optician’s glasses that will help you see better and keep your eyes comfortable and working at their best. Let’s take a look at some proper frames.’

I find this approach helps. People come back to me for their next eye examination and they sometimes advise other family members to come and see me to get ‘proper optician’s glasses.’