Non-Prescription vs. Prescription Reading Glasses

Are store-bought reading glasses better or worse than the ones at your eye doctor? They’re less expensive, but are they worth it? We tackle the great debate below.

Non-Prescription vs. Prescription Reading Glasses. Which is better for you? Find out!

Non-Prescription Glasses

  • quicker & more convenient to buy

  • no appointments or pick-up

  • offer optical quality & flexible frames

  • perfect for those that break or lose glasses easily

  • can buy multiple pairs for every room in the house

  • bifocal, aspheric, & high-powered options


  • high quality but expensive

  • for different powers in each eye

  • customizable to special vision needs

  • can use insurance to purchase

  • selection of high-end brand names

  • no guessing on exact prescription

  • frame is fitted to face by professional

  • offer specialized lens coatings like anti-glare


So what does “non-prescription” actually mean?

Most pharmacies and online retailers sell over-the-counter (OTC) reading glasses that require no verified prescription from an eye doctor. Because of this, they are termed non-prescription glasses; however, they still have a specific magnification — usually ranging from +0.25 to +6.00 — in each lens, which is called a “power” or “strength.” Where it gets confusing is that this means they still technically hold a prescription, but the prescription is set and is the same magnification level for each eye.

Simply put, non-prescription reading glasses are glasses that you do not order from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. They can usually be found in retail stores, at the pharmacy, or online.

(PS. We might be a tad biased, but we say shopping for non-prescription readers online is the best way to go! It’s time to ditch the drugstore — and those unnecessarily expensive glasses from the eye doctor — once and for all!)

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If you still have questions about whether or not pharmacy, online, or prescription glasses are the right choice for you, read this guide. And if you’re worried that non-prescription or “cheaper” reading glasses will damage your eyes (Hint: They won’t at all!), click here and put that myth to rest.