Reading Glasses 101: What You Need to Know

Okay, you're starting to notice your eyes straining when you read the menu in low light or squinting to see the TV guide clearly. It may be time to look into getting reading glasses. But where do you even start? With so many options between online retailers, drugstores, optometry offices, big box stores, and specialty shops, the choices can feel overwhelming. In this article, we'll break down the pros and cons of the top places to buy reading glasses in 2024. You'll learn where you can find the widest selection, best prices, and highest quality lenses. We'll also cover what extra features like blue light filtering or anti-reflective coatings to look for depending on how you plan to use your new readers. So keep reading to find the ideal retailer that matches your preferences and budget. We'll make sure you're seeing clearly and comfortably this year!

reading glasses

Best Places to Buy Reading Glasses Online

Prescription vs Non-Prescription

When looking for reading glasses, the first decision you'll need to make is whether you want prescription or non-prescription lenses. Prescription lenses are tailored to your specific eyesight needs, while non-prescription are generic magnifying lenses. If you have an eyeglass prescription from your optometrist, prescription lenses are the way to go for the best vision correction. For basic age-related farsightedness, non-prescription readers can work great and are very affordable.

Where to Shop

With so many options, it can be tough to know where to start your search for new reading glasses. Here are some of the best places to shop:

  • Online retailers: Websites like Zenni Optical, GlassesUSA, and Warby Parker offer prescription and non-prescription reading glasses at low prices. You'll find a huge selection, and glasses can be at your doorstep in a few days.
  • Drugstores and pharmacies: Major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have reading glasses sections with a variety of styles at budget-friendly prices. The selection may be more limited, but you can try glasses on in-store.
  • Optometry offices: If you have a current eyeglass prescription, buying reading glasses from your optometrist is convenient, and they can ensure the right lens power and fit. However, glasses from optometrists typically cost more.
  • Big box stores: Large retailers like Target and Walmart offer a good range of stylish and affordable reading glasses. The selection varies, but you may find some great deals, especially on non-prescription glasses.
  • Specialty eyewear stores: Stores that specialize in eyewear like LensCrafters or Eyemart Express have a wide range of designer reading glasses in various price points. You'll pay more than at discount stores but can get high quality, fashionable glasses.

No matter where you shop, be sure to try on multiple pairs of reading glasses to find ones that feel comfortable and provide crisp, clear vision. Your eyes will thank you!

Top Reading Glasses at Drugstores and Pharmacies

Zenni Optical

Zenni Optical is one of the most popular online retailers for affordable reading glasses. They offer frames starting at just $6.95. With over 7,000 styles to choose from, you're sure to find a pair you love. The best part? Prescription lenses are included in the price. Zenni is a great option if you're on a budget but still want stylish, high-quality reading glasses.

Warby Parker

Warby Parker is a popular eyewear company that sells stylish yet affordable reading glasses online. Frames start at just $95 including high-index lenses. They offer classic and trendy styles for both men and women. Warby Parker is also a socially-conscious brand that donates a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair purchased. For mid-range reading glasses that make you look good while doing good, Warby Parker is an excellent choice.

GlassesUSA

GlassesUSA has one of the largest selections of designer reading glasses online with over 4,000 frames to choose from. You'll find high-quality yet budget-friendly options from brands like Ray-Ban, Oakley, Gucci and more. Prescription lenses are available for most frames and start at just $19. GlassesUSA frequently runs sales where you can save up to 50-70% on select styles. If you want brand name reading glasses but don't want to pay brand name prices, check out GlassesUSA.

With so many affordable options available online, there's no need to overpay for your next pair of reading glasses. Do some browsing, find a retailer that fits your needs and budget, and before you know it, your new favorite pair of specs will be shipped right to your door. Now you can read in style without straining your eyes or your wallet!

Getting Reading Glasses From Your Optometrist

When you’re in need of an affordable pair of reading glasses in a pinch, your local drugstore or pharmacy is a convenient option. Many carry a selection of basic readers at lower price points than dedicated eyewear stores. Here are some of the top, budget-friendly reading glasses you can find at popular drugstores.

Foster Grant

Foster Grant is a widely available, value-focused brand that offers reading glasses for under $20. Their selections include classic styles in power ranges from +1.00 to +3.50. The frames are typically plastic or metal and come in basic colors like black, brown and silver. For the price, Foster Grant readers will do the trick without breaking the bank.

Equate

Walmart’s house brand, Equate, sells ultra-affordable reading glasses for under $10. The styles are very basic but functional, with powers from +1.00 to +3.50. The frames are plastic and come in basic colors. If you’re in need of emergency readers on a tight budget, Equate pairs will work in a pinch. They may not last long, but for a few dollars, you can’t beat the price.

Readers.com

Some pharmacies carry reading glasses from Readers.com, an eyewear company dedicated to—you guessed it—reading glasses and computer glasses. They offer stylish and higher-quality frames than most budget brands, with powers from +1.00 up to +3.50. Prices at pharmacies are usually between $15 to $30. Readers.com glasses provide great value for the money and extra style points versus most low-cost readers.

In summary, while you may find a more stylish selection and higher-quality products from an eyewear boutique, drugstores and pharmacies remain a go-to for convenient and ultra-affordable reading glasses when you need them. For under $20, you can walk out with a functional pair of basic readers to suit your needs. When it comes to drugstore reading glasses, you get what you pay for—but if price is your main concern, you can’t beat these options.

Big Box Stores for Affordable Reading Glasses

Seeing your optometrist for reading glasses means getting expert guidance on your specific vision needs. They can examine your eyes to determine your precise magnification power and lens type. Your optometrist may recommend lenses suited for your visual tasks, like bifocals with a larger reading lens for avid readers or computer lenses to reduce eye strain. They can also check for any underlying vision issues and monitor your eyes for changes over time.

Customized Fit

At your optometrist's office, an optician will take precise measurements of your pupillary distance and frame size for the best customized fit. Ill-fitting reading glasses can cause headaches, blurry vision, and eye fatigue. An optician can adjust the frames to sit evenly and comfortably on your nose and ears. They offer a range of stylish, high-quality frames in sizes and styles to flatter every face shape.

Premium Lens Options

Optometry offices have access to the latest lens materials and treatments. You can choose premium, anti-reflective lenses that reduce glare for easier reading in low light. Transition or photochromic lenses automatically darken in sunlight and lighten indoors. Scratch-resistant coatings help lenses last longer. These upgrades may cost a bit more but provide the greatest visual comfort and clarity.

While buying reading glasses at your optometrist's office typically costs more than other options, the benefits of comprehensive eye care, customized glasses, and premium lens choices can be well worth the investment for many people. For the best vision and eye health, consider visiting your optometrist at least once every two years for an eye exam and to update your reading glasses. An optometrist can expertly guide you to the reading glasses you need now and help monitor any changes to come.

Roger Sarkis