The Case for Rx Readers: Why Drugstore Readers Don’t Do The Job

When it comes to needing reading glasses, most people make a trip to their local drugstore to pick up a pair of readers. While that solution is quick and easy, you’re over-the-counter (OTC) ‘cheaters’ aren’t really doing the whole job. In fact, over time they can cause even more eye strain or even double vision.

So, what are the real benefits of ordering prescription reading glasses versus wearing OTC readers? Read on to find out.


The main concern when buying reading glasses from a drugstore is that they are created to be “one size fits all.” While they come in different strengths, called powers, the lenses in OTC reading glasses are both the same power. Most people who need vision correction require a different strength lens for each eye. Your prescription may also call for an astigmatism correction, which OTC readers don’t address.

Pupillary Distance

Your pupillary distance (PD) is the measurement from the center of one pupil to the other. It essentially determines where the optical center should be placed on each lens. The reading glasses that you get off the shelf will have an average PD, based on the size of the frame. If you’re looking through a pair of reading glasses that has a wider or narrower PD than yours, it will have a negative effect on your ability to see well and ultimately lead to headaches and eyestrain.

Tip: There is a difference between your near PD and distance PD. If you are measuring your PD at home (learn how to measure PD here) subtract 3mm from your distance PD. For example, if your distance PD is 63mm, then your near PD is 60mm. If you are using dual PD to calculate near PD, then subtract 1.5mm from each eye’s measurement. For example, if your dual PD is 33/31mm then your near PD would be 31.5/29.5mm.

Anti-reflective Coating

Store-bought reading glasses don’t come with anti-reflective (AR) coating. So, is there really a difference between having it or not if you are just wearing them to read? Simply put, yes. Not only does AR coating make your glasses easier to clean by preventing oil, water, and dirt from sticking to the lenses, it allows more light to pass through to your eye. This reduces eyestrain and improves vision, particularly in artificial light.

Blue Light Protection

In today’s digital age, the majority of our reading is done on a tablet, computer, or phone. As a result, we’re constantly exposing ourselves to unnatural blue light that can cause dry eye, eye fatigue, blurry vision, and more. That is why a lens that blocks blue light is so important to the care of your eyes – and something you won’t get from OTC readers. Zenni Blokz are virtually clear lenses made with a special blue-light blocking polymer that prevents blue light and UV rays from passing through the lens.

How to Order Reading Glasses From Zenni

1. Find the frames that you want and add them to your cart.
2. At checkout, enter single vision under prescription type
3. Select your PD for each eye (see above for how to measure your PD at home)
4. For sphere, you want to select a plus (+) number which is for farsightedness (helping to see up close clearly). If your prescription for reading glasses is +1.25, then that is the number you enter.
5. Enter cylinder and axis only if you have it noted on your eyeglass prescription. These are used to correct astigmatism.
6. Complete checkout and your are ready to go!

With frames starting at $6.95, ordering your reading glasses from Zenni is both good for you wallet and your eyes. Plus with thousands of frames to choose from, you’ll never have to settle on style!