What does a pair of £5 reading glasses say about you?
Many great things have been said about the eyes.
The great Roman philosopher Cicero described the face as a picture of the mind and suggested, “the eyes are its interpreter.”
In the Bible, Matthew said they are “the lamps of the body”, and in an instant can reveal your health according to how bright they shine.
And maybe most famously and profoundly Shakespeare proclaimed they are “the windows to your soul”.
Whatever they are, one thing’s for certain: such an enigmatic and expressive part of the body shouldn’t be dressed in a cheap pair of supermarket ready readers. Do so and rather than saying “Welcome to my lovely soul”, they communicate something more along the lines of “No longer open for business”.
But freeing your eyes to the world is not just a case of pleasing literary greats of times gone by; wearing such shameful and low-quality eyewear can do irreversible damage to your eyes — not to mention your street cred.
In a way, wearing off-the-shelf readers is akin to slipping on a pair of old-school gym plimsolls and using them as walking boots. They may look okay from afar and do what you need them to for a little while, but soon enough they’ll start wreaking havoc, causing aches and pains, falling to bits, and attracting some very funny looks.
Like cheap shoes, cheap reading glasses don’t tend to meet any of the recommended guidelines for safety. It’s essentially an open market in which manufacturers more or less do as they please, releasing frames of all shapes, sizes, and standards and marketing them as reading glasses to unwitting shoppers.
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Not only does this mean they look ridiculous as they don’t fit your head or sit on your nose properly, it means they’re almost certainly not suited to your needs or prescription. In fact, when the Daily Mail tested a handful of cheap readers from high street shops like Boots and MS, they found very few to be up to the job.
A common problem they found was with the placement of the optical centre — the area which you’re meant to look through, and if misaligned can lead to headaches and eye strain. In most pairs, they measured the optical centre to be a few millimetres out or more askew, with some even differing between the left and right lens.
This is a worry particularly in readers of a higher strength or magnification. With these, the brain has to work harder to try and make up for the misalignment, causing everything from dizziness and eye strain to double vision and nausea.
But the truth is vision problems are somewhat of a luxury among wearers of reading glasses. Most pairs don’t last long enough to reach that stage. For example, even if they’re just a little too tight around the temples and ears, it can force the arms outwards and cause loosening of the joints. And that’s if you haven’t suffered an allergic reaction to them like many do with nickel-plated jewellery. Or discovered immediately after buying them they’re already damaged, with faint scratches and marks all over the rims and lenses. Or that they rub your nose or ears and are generally uncomfortable and miserable to wear.
Off-the-shelf readers say a lot about you — and let’s face it, most of it isn’t great.