Even if you've enjoyed perfect eyesight for your first forty years, you're likely to start to need reading glasses sometime in your forties. That's because the lens in each eye becomes harder as you get older. The muscles that surround your lens and pull it into focus begin to tire and find it hard work and most often this starts to affect close, detailed work. The first sign is usually a frown, or starting to hold your books, newspapers and smartphone at arms length.
If you are not used to opticians, eye tests and to spending money on eyecare, you might have decided to just buy off-the-shelf reading glasses from the garage forecourt or pound shop, just to see what it's like, see if they help, see whether you can get on with wearing glasses. This may work for a time, but sooner or later the problems become obvious.
They don't match your prescription
When you are given a prescription from your eye test, it contains six elements. £1 readers will probably only correct for one of those (leaving the other five uncorrected to cause you eye strain and headaches). So £1 readers are not a proper test of whether you can get along with glasses or not, because they are not correcting your eyesight accurately enough. Worse, it's likely your eyes don't require the same prescription. So between your two eyes, and the six elements, £1 readers probably solve a twelfth of the problem.
They look like £1 glasses
Of course, the best designers don't design £1 readers. You will end up using those £1 readers in public, in a restaurant to try to read the menu. How much do you value your public image? Dispensing opticians have seen thousands of people choose glasses, and they are there to help you find a style that says the right things about you, to dispense glasses that help you in life, rather than hold you back.
They won't fit (they'll slip or keep falling off)
Dispensing opticians take great care to ensure glasses fit properly, here at Pagan & McQuade we have Hoya's visuReal electronic measurement system to ensure we measure everything accurately for the best possible fit.
One of the first considerations is the distance between your pupils (ie. how close or far apart are your eyes). Lenses should be placed so the optical centre of the lens, which is where your prescription is fulfilled most accurately, is right in front of each of your eye pupils. Off the shelf glasses would only manage that by chance and if they are wrong, they'll cause eye strain and prismatic effects, aberrations and viewing discomfort.
Cheap, off the shelf glasses are provided as-is, without any custom fitting of the frames at all, so you're likely to experience problems. For example, they may be too close or too far away from the eye, they may slip or fall off entirely, they could hurt, or they might rub and irritate your nose.
A final consideration is what we call the pantoscopic tilt, which is how much your lenses slope forward. For pure reading glasses, they should lean more than usual, but as qualified opticians we always fit individually for you, so it depends on your prescription, your lifestyle, your particular needs as well as the frame you've chosen.
Glasses should be part of you: they should fit comfortably, be in the correct position for their use, and you should be confident they will stay in place.
They are not coated
One of the major irritations with budget glasses is you'll always be cleaning them because they haven't got an anti-grease (oleophobic) coating. That's an important consideration for reading glasses because you don't put them on and leave them, you put them on, take them off, put them on again .. each time transferring grease from your hands to your lenses. An oleophobic coating helps to keep your glasses clean.
Pagan & McQuade recommends that your lenses are protected by multi anti-reflective coatings .. so when your friends and family look at you, they see the expression in your eyes rather than a reflection of the sky. Reflected light is light you never saw. An anti-reflective coating lets more light in so you'll see better.
The advantage of £1 readers, then, is they cost £1. Of course we say that you get what you pay for and that a properly prescribed, fitted and customised pair of glasses from us will help you avoid eyestrain, you might see and engage more with those around you, and you'll look better for it. Most people come around to realising that £1 readers really don't solve the problem, and you may then invest in a pair of glasses designed by professionals to suit you. When you are ready to take the plunge, just remember: figures show that on average independent opticians save you money over the national chains, so pop in to Pagan & McQuade and upgrade your specs.