Is it safe to use ‘readers’ from the drugstore?

Courtesy Photo.

As we age, it’s important to care for our vital organs such as our skin, heart and lungs.
But don’t lose sight of your eye health.
One of the most common age-related changes in our 40s, 50s and 60s is deteriorating eyesight.
Even if you’ve had 20/20 vision for decades, you might need a little help at night, in low light or reading words that seem to keep getting smaller and smaller.
While you should generally have an eye exam every year or two, you may need a little extra help between visits. Is it OK to just pick up a pair of “readers” at the local drugstore?
We posed that question (and a few others) to Dr. Tommy Korn, a board-certified ophthalmologist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.
Why does it become harder to read things such as restaurant menus as we age?
All of us will ultimately develop a condition called presbyopia that affects our eyes. It’s an inevitable fact of life and nothing can be done to prevent it at this time.
The natural lens in the eye acts like a camera. It has an autofocus-like mechanism that allows us to see things close up like menus and newspapers.
The lens loses this ability to see things up close sometime between the age of 40 and 50. Many people become concerned when they encounter presbyopia. Rest assured it’s a normal part of aging.
Is it OK to buy over-the-counter “readers”?
If you haven’t been diagnosed with myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) or astigmatism (abnormal eye shape), it’s perfectly fine and appropriate to buy over-the-counter reading glasses.
You may need to consider progressive, bifocal or trifocal eyeglasses.
Another option is through the use of specialty contact lenses that can allow you to see things up close while also seeing things far away.
Should we get eye exams more frequently as we age?
Yes. Aging eyes are more susceptible to diseases because of genetics and “wear and tear” from sustained use. This is why older adults should have their eyes examined at least once a year by a qualified eye care specialist.
Do people with diabetes or hypertension need to give extra care and attention to their eyes?
Definitely. Diabetes and hypertension can cause structural changes within the deep, internal blood vessels of the eye. This means that the macula and retina — the most vital neurosensory organs that allow you to see — may not get the proper nutrition and energy. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension are at high risk for losing their eyesight. Please follow your doctor’s advice on diabetes and blood pressure control. You will do your eyes some good and be able to see the cool things in life.
This article features experts from Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. For more health stories visit