Over the Counter Reading Glasses – OK To Use Or Harmful?

As a practicing optometrist for twenty years now, one of the most common questions I am asked is “Can I use over-the-counter glasses or will they damage my eyes?”  The short answer to this question is yes (depending on one’s prescription); you can use these “drugstore” reading glasses without harming your eyes.  However, before you go out and buy a pair of these glasses for every drawer and nightstand in your house, you need to be aware of a few things.

First, a basic understanding of why people develop the need for reading glasses in the first place might be of interest.  As people approach the age of 40, they may begin to notice that their near vision is not what it was even a few years ago.  Indeed, once you enter your forties and progress into your early forties, you can expect to definitely have changes up close, requiring a spectacle (or contact lens) prescription.  (If you are near-sighted to begin with, you can simply remove your glasses at near to solve this near blur, but this is an issue for another article).

The question remains though, why do people need reading glasses around the age of forty?  This is actually the culmination of a process that starts pretty much the day you’re born. 

Our ability to focus at different distances and to go from distance to near and vice versa comes from the crystalline lens.  The crystalline lens sits behind our pupils and can change shape to accommodate focusing at various distances.  As children and even young adults, this crystalline lens is very elastic which allows for tremendous focusing ability at near.

However, over time, the ability of the crystalline lens to change shape decreases.  This is a slow, yet fairly constant change.  As this process continues with every passing year, it eventually hits a threshold point at about the age of forty, give or take a few years, where your ability to focus at the typical reading distance of about 18-20 inches is impaired.

As you can see, this process is really just another ageing process.  Look at it this way:  Needing reading glasses due to this process doesn’t mean you are old; it just means you are “old enough”.  Perhaps looking at it in this way may make it slightly less depressing.

Furthermore, everybody experiences these vision changes, regardless of sex, race, or nationality.  So rest assured that the need for a reading prescription at around forty years of age is not unusual; in fact, it is the norm.

As for the over-the-counter (OTC), or drugstore, reading glasses, feel free to use these as needed.  Keep in mind, though, that people with a big difference in prescription between the two eyes and/or high amounts of astigmatism will not do well with these glasses.   You will also need to consult your eye care professional to help you determine what power lenses to select. 

Of course you could also simply go into a store and try out a few difference powers until one that seems clear at your desired reading distance is found.  This latter choice is not recommended if, as a result, you skip routine checkups with your eye doctor.  Routine eye examinations can uncover potentially vision threatening conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration (to name just a couple).

Also, the optical quality of OTC glasses is often lacking.  But this cannot damage your eyes.  You may experience some discomfort and even headaches, but you will do no actual damage to your eyes.

So when you reach that “special” time in your life when you need reading glasses, don’t despair.  You are not old, just “old enough” and you are certainly not alone.  Also, feel free to use the OTC glasses, but be sure to continue having your routine eye exams.

Do I Have to Have a Medical Exam to Get Life Insurance?

If you would like to get life insurance but don’t want to be bothered with having a medical exam in order to qualify for coverage then I’ve got some very good news for you. Provided that you don’t have a serious pre-existing medical condition it is possible for you to get a life insurance policy without ever having to see a doctor.

How Much Coverage Can You Get?

Nowadays there are quite a few life insurance companies that offer insurance policies that do not require medical exams. However, the amount of coverage will not be as high as what you could get if you opted to apply for a policy that requires a medical exam.

Most of the no-medical-exam policies that are offered are term life insurance policies whose terms could be ten, fifteen, twenty, or thirty years. The good news is that many of them will come with a renewable option. Keep in mind, though, that if you renew your policy years from now your premiums will increase.

Coverage on these policies generally will range from $20,000 all the way up to half a million dollars.

If you want to get a no medical exam policy because you just don’t want to take the time to go to the doctor you must be aware that this type of insurance policy would cost you more than a policy with equivalent coverage that did require a medical exam.

On the other hand, if you don’t want an exam because of some past or present medical condition, then the news is not as good. Even though an exam isn’t necessary you will be required to fill out paperwork that documents your medical history as well as your current health situation. In other words, you won’t be able to avoid disclosing information about your health.

And you really must be honest. That’s because if you don’t divulge any of your prior or existing medical issues and you end up dying because of complications from a previously existing condition, then your beneficiaries may not receive the benefits you want to provide. The insurance company won’t be required to fulfill the terms of your policy.

These policies also require that you provide the company with information about your lifestyle. They’ll ask you about any past accidents or injuries, what prescription drugs you’re taking, whether or not you smoke and if you have any chronic conditions, in addition to the standard questions about your height, weight, and age.

They also want to know if you are part of a group insurance plan or if you have any other life insurance policy.

In addition, a lot of insurance companies have a probation period built into this type of insurance contract. If they discover that you did not disclose information about certain medical conditions during this period, which usually lasts for several years, they will be permitted to cancel your policy.

If you’re still interested in buying an insurance policy that does not require a medical exam then it’s very easy to find and sign up for one of these policies on the Internet.