Types of Glasses That Do Not Require A Prescription

We often think of glasses and immediately associate them with words like “eye doctor”, “prescription”, “ophthalmologist” and “expensive”!  However, not all glasses require a visit to the eye doctor, many do not require a prescription, and a lot serve important functions in our personal and professional lives – including safety glasses, computer glasses, and reading glasses.

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Safety Glasses

According to PreventBlindness.org, every year nearly 850,000 Americans sustain eye injuries at work and home.  With an estimated 9 out of every 10 of these eye injuries considered preventable with the use safety glasses and/or safety goggles, it is important to understand the various types and ratings associated with protective eyewear [1].

To ensure safety and increase protection of the eyes, protective eyewear – including the lens and frames – is required to meet higher standards for impact resistance than traditional prescription glasses.  In the U.S., and for the workplace, these standards are set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. In addition the American National Standards Institute, or ANSI, also has established safety standards for eyewear, which includes high impact and high velocity testing to ensure the safety glasses do not chip, break, or crack under high stress conditions.

When shopping for safety eyeglasses, always look for the plus mark – this means the lens can withstand high velocity testing.  High impact/high velocity protection eyewear is recommended for those working in with tools, outdoors, or in construction and heavy equipment trades including builders, landscaping, machinists, plumbers, and metal and wood workers.


Computer Glasses

If you are like millions of Americans who work for long periods of time on a computer, you might not require prescription glasses, but commonly experience headaches, eye irritation, and blurred vision; these are symptoms known as computer vision syndrome (CVS).

According to WebMD, an estimated 50% to 90% of people working at computer screens experience at least one symptom of CVS [2].  Like carpal tunnel syndrome experienced in the hands and wrists, CVS is actually a repetitive motion injury experienced as a result of the eyes repeatedly following the same path over and over again.  Repeatedly tracking material from a computer screen, to papers, and back to the screen places significant strain on the muscles of the eyes – often resulting in the symptoms associated with CVS.

Computer glasses are different from prescription eyeglasses and OTC reading glasses and are designed to support viewing a computer screen from roughly 20” to 26” from your eye.  Typically, the lenses of these glasses have 50% to 60% of the magnifying power of typical “readers”.

In addition to slight magnification, it’s recommended that the lenses in computer glasses are coated with an anti-reflective treatment.  It is also recommended that computer glasses have photochromic lenses, which shield the eye from harmful blue light rays emitted by computer screens and other electronic devices.


Reading Glasses

An estimated 15% of Americans wear non-prescription reading glasses.  Non-prescription, or over-the-counter (OTC) reading glasses, are also known as “readers” and are commonly purchased at department stores, pharmacies, and through online retail stores.  Readers are available in a number of specific magnifications, and typically range in strength from +0.25 to +6.00.

Readers are beneficial for a number of reasons, such that they:

  • Don’t require a trip to the eye doctor
  • Come in a wide variety of colors, frames, and styles
  • Lens are offered in bifocals, sunglass, and aspheric options
  • Are convenient for people who often misplace or break glasses

Above all else, people tend to use readers because they are much less expensive than prescription glasses – and when correctly matched with your vision, they work just as well.  They’re typically much less expensive than readers you’d find at your eye doctor’s office, and they work just as well if you choose the correct magnification.

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Glasses are important for a number of reasons, and many of these reasons have to do with eye protection and minimizing the stress placed on the muscles of the eye.  Quality safety glasses and computer glasses are available for purchase online and without a prescription.  In addition, there are several online resources designed to assist in purchasing your glasses, all you need to get started is your pupillary distance measurement.


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