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Ready-made reading glasses – one big headache?

Which? finds potentially serious flaws in specs
glasses without captions 300x200

Off-the-peg reading glasses could cause eye problems, including eye strain and double vision, a Which? snapshot investigation has found.

Ready-made reading glasses investigated

Which?’s optometrist checked the quality of 14 pairs of low and high prescription reading glasses from 7 high street stores and found problems in half, with the more serious concerns about higher prescription glasses. 

The shops were: Poundland, Primark, Marks & Spencer, Boots, Foster Grant at Superdrug, Sight Station and regional chain Tiger.

Problem pairs

One pair of higher prescription Poundland glasses had the wrong prescription, plus an over-large gap between the lens centres which were also at different heights. Our expert optometrist was concerned that someone wearing this pair – and pairs from Sight Station and Tiger which also had lens centres at different heights – could develop eye problems, or even a head tilt.

Primark and additional Poundland and Tiger pairs had over-large distances between the lens centres, forcing the eye muscles to adapt and potentially causing the wearer problems when they go back to wearing glasses with a suitable distance between the lens centres. 

A Marks & Spencer pair had a loose nylon thread which – although not visible to the buyer – could lead to the lenses falling out quickly.

Our expert was also concerned that almost one in five of Which? members surveyed who wear ready readers do so for active jobs, such as decorating. He said: ‘For people with higher prescriptions, they’re not suitable for walking or other mobile activities.’ And based on some glasses we saw, someone up a ladder decorating could have a nasty accident.

Additional ‘ready readers’ tested

Additional pairs tested satisfactorily including two pairs from Foster Grant at Superdrug, two pairs from Boots, and pairs from Marks & Spencer, Primark and Sight Station.

Buying advice

If you’re buying ready-made reading glasses, a spring-loaded pair could fit better and be more durable. And if your prescription is higher (above +2.00) read with the glasses for a few minutes, rather than a few seconds, before you buy. Comfortable and clear reading for an extended time suggests the lenses are correctly centred.

Should it be so easy to buy something that could give you headaches and make you see double? Join the debate at Which? Conversation.

Find out about other ways to look after your health, by reading about healthier food choices.

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