/ Health, Home & Energy

Ready-made glasses can be a real headache

Glasses on news papers

It might not just be the small print that’s giving you a headache – it could be your ready-made reading glasses. Should it be so easy to buy something that could give you headaches and make you see double?

Like me, you might have thought that cheap off-the-peg glasses were a useful boost for a short read.

But now that we’ve investigated these glasses I’m much more concerned about relying on a more powerful ready-made pair.

Our expert said higher prescription ‘ready-readers’ aren’t suitable to wear when moving about, so buying them to save getting paint splashes on expensive eye-wear might not be money so well spent. Well, they are reading glasses after all.

Off-the-peg glasses are inexpensive and a tempting way to save cash. I can understand why spending less than a fiver is far more appealing than the cost of an eye test and a trip to the optician, especially when you only need glasses at odd times of the day.

After seeing the Which? expert’s findings, I’m still happy to use lower prescription ready-readers now and then. But the results on some of the higher prescription glasses (+3.50 or +4.00) made me worry that I might strain my eyes if I started to use them.

I’d hate to think of people getting into the habit of using powerful ready-made reading glasses all the time – half the 14 pairs we bought had problems.

These glasses are easy to pick up on the high street while you’re out doing your day-to-day shopping, so any of us could take home a headache with our new cheap ready-readers. But I don’t think you should risk picking up eye strain, blurred vision, or double vision along with your shampoo or socks.


I agree – Both my eyes are different – but a few years ago I bought a pair of reading glasses “off the peg” – they were a disaster.

I bought a pair of vari-focal specs which were fine. Now I have one long and one short sighted specs – as I rarely need reading specs any more..

John J. Jones says:
6 February 2015

I have bought prescription glasses from Spec Savers and Tescos with top of the range lens, and they are a real pain. They are Variofocal, and for distance they are a pain in the butt. At Spec Savers I got my money back. At Tescos they replaced them with the same poor results. So, so much for Prescription Glasses ! I have given up and just put up with the discomfort.

I want to keep this important product.

20 years ago, following headaches after becoming a mature student (lots of reading) I was prescribed weak glasses (1.5 dioptres) just for reading.

I got a job computer programming, sitting at a screen for 10 hours a day. On retest, my optician upped the reading prescription to 2.5, and prescribed 2.5 dioptre long range glasses. She persuaded me to buy expensive bifocals, the magnifying part of which did not cover my full reading field. The glasses were soft plastic (presumably so they can be “ground” at the opticians), and after 18 months were covered in scratches.

On the web I found the Better Vision website in the USA, and bought their very reasonable on-line book based on the Bates Method (developed in the last war to improve the vision of sailors etc., I believe). Two exercises worked well for me: Near-Far focussing, and eyeball-rolling using a clock-shaped imaginary chart. Initially eyeball-rolling was very painful and my eyes watered, so I used the weaker exercise on the chart where you fixate on numbers around the clock. My extra-ocular muscles had clearly wasted away. After a month I could roll my eyes properly, and I experienced a new “panavision” effect where details in the corners were brightly coloured and sharply in focus.

How can extra-ocular muscles affect visual accuity? The answer seems to lie in micro-saccades, which have only recently been researched. I threw away my long-range glasses, and could now read road signs and car number plates without them.

I bought the Better Vision exercise aimed at reading without glasses, but could never quite manage that, butI did go down to a 1.0 dioptre for reading, switching to 1.5 dioptre at the end of the day, when tired and in poor light.

Work pressures since have had me on 1.5 dioptres all day, but I never need long-range glasses. Road maps and telephone directories in bad light do demand 2.5 dioptres, but that need is infrequent.

I think it is important to exercise and challenge your eyes, not just to take on prescriptions for
increasingly stronger glasses (some recent research suggests that stiffening of the joint at the base of the ciliary muscle where it is fixed to the eyeball, is what causes presbyopia with age).

I can do all this only because I can buy cheap reading glasses. I found that Foster Grants at £15 were the best, but recently market stalls sell quite good ones at £5 for 3. These are either glass or harder plastic, and do not scratch easily. After 9 months the frame hinges break and I throw them away. There are a lot of poor specs on sale, and you have to choose carefully. This has been my habit now for over 6 years, and I must have saved £400 or more. I am 60 years old.

what a load of rubbish.Hope youget your eyes tested otherwise you may havesaved money but be lind by time you are 68

I reply to the reply to me, by nsp.
If you think I am talking rubbish, please follow my ongoing conversation with HiDEye.
I provide references to refereed, published books and papers. Nobody else has bothered to do this.That is part of the scientific method by which truth is arrived at.
Please provide references to prove your claim that my posting is “what a load of rubbish”.
I suspect that you have been brainwashed by the publicity of chain opticians who just want to sell you expensive glasses.

Graham says:
17 September 2011

Anybody reading this post should ignore it completely. I have a degree in optometry and can confirm that it is riddled with inaccuracies and (quite frankly) total garbage. And I would implore the author to ensure that he/she is having regular eye exams to rule out the possibility of eye disease.

suki lyonson says:
26 October 2010

I am 83, I am still working in a profession which requires reading and long distance vision, I drive every day in London, day and night. The last time I had optician prescription glasses was 27 years ago. All I got for my vast expenditure was a bad headache. Since then I buy off the peg for £5-£6 a pair. Why should I pay up to £250 for a piece of bent wire? It’s high time this rip off was under the supervision of a statutory body to protect the public from this overpricing. I recently saw an advert on a London red bus, take your prescription to these people and pay £15 to have the specs made up and framed.

lets hope you are not using off the shelf ones for driving as that is dangerous you could run over a child because you cant see properly. Your insurance is void if you have an accident wearing them just to save a few pennies you put other road users and pedestrians at risk. Sounds like you are the selfish one.
Lets hope the peole you see in your profession do not take the same attitude as you

HiDEye says:
26 October 2010

As a retired optometrist I might add a few comments.

Optical centration: is part of the ‘forumla’ for specacles.

Without this information stated on the product a member of the public has no easy way of knowing if they suit other than a ‘diy-headache test’ (the Which? eyetest?) – even if s/he knew the individual setting for the distance the readers are focused at (near PD).

This is not the distance PD (inter pupilliary distance) that websites ask for. (The same websites use average figures when making up spectacles if the customer’s PD is not stated – more deception).

It depends on the distance from the eyes to the print being read or near object viewed.

Magnification: the lie:
The misleading (Which? take note, please) descriptions when ready readers are advertised with statements like “.. powerful 4 diopters magnification..” are blatantly misleading and untruthful.

The diopter power is just a version of the focal point of the spectacles. viz 4D = 25cm (reciprocal) and does not directly state magnification.

The actual magnification of such spectacles is of the order of only 2 or 3% at best.

Magnification is otherwise free ! Something at 1meter is twice the size to the eye at 50 cm by just being closer. The ‘diopters’ just do the focussing.

Illegal use: These readers can be used by people with general vision defects including driving.
Each driver is personally responsible that the ‘number plate test’ is passable: ie s/he can read a currently sized number registration plate, in good daylight, from 20.5m.

Giving yourself a headache is your ‘human right’ ; risking harm to others very much is not.

I have not even touched on the quality, or lack of, in the surfaces of such cheap lenses from waves and distortions (especally if used for driving) to the errors caused by the misalignment of the frame-lens combination.

Power restriction to 2.5D (diopters) would limit these to those whose far sight is ‘normal’. Otherwise compensation for defective distance vision is being included – with all the above complications aggravated.

A statement, on all these spectacles, that they are illegal for driving without further advice should be required.

I note with sadness in the earlier posters’ reports imaginary and ill-informed nonsense. If the Bates’s theory had any truth everyone would be using it. They do not. It contains enough half truths to convince some willing to be so. eg Lack of near focus in age is due to the eye’s lens becoming inelastic and nothing to do with lack of cilliary muscle focusing power and we virtually have very little control of it.

Such eye gymnastics can appear to improve sight by (indirect) action on the pupil which compensates for optical defects when closed down. They are mostly a ‘feel-good’ exercise.

Such self-treaters have absolutely no idea if their fields of vision are legally OK. They could be legally blind yet pass a number plate test! Without specialist tests none of us would know – until literally the lights go out.
Ask the RNIB (about glaucoma in old age) if you want an independent opinion.

Do you go bare-footed?
If not why not?
Shoes make your feet weaker, obviously.
No one to my knowlege has written the ‘Boots’s’ method of avoiding the use of shoes.
Even Ozie, the frozen iceman who died 5000 years ago, was wearing .. shoes !

“I quote from Agarwal, Agarwal, Apple and Buratto, 2002. Also, in the rhesus monkey, which has an accommodative apparatus similar to that of the human and develops presbyopia on a comparable time scale relative to its lifespan, the ability of the ciliary muscle to alter its configuration in response to topical cholinomimetic drugs or electrical stimulation of the Edinger-Westphal nucleus clearly declines with age.”

I quote below from Optometry & Vision Science: April 2000 – Volume 77 – Issue 4 – pp 204-210
Articles Age-Related Changes in Human Ciliary Muscle Pardue, Machelle T. PhD; Sivak, Jacob G. OD, PhD, FAAO

“The young ciliary muscle appeared to consist of individual fibers uniformly distributed with little connective tissue (Fig. 1A). With increasing age, the muscle fibers appeared to form bundles with greater amounts of connective tissue separating these bundles, particularly in the radial and circular areas (Fig. 1B).”

I am a trained observer with 25+ papers in Computing and Artificial Intelligence. What I say happened to me, did happen. It is the truth. In view of the quotes above, it is not unreasonable to expect the Bates’ exercises to improve visual accuity.

I make no comment on 2.5 diopters being a crossing-point between “normal” and “abnormal” eyes, and perhaps you can quote references to support this claim.

I think the theory of the magnification offered by high-dioptre glasses is rather complex, and it is a long time since I did any optical physics. Here is a simple experiment. I took 1.5 and 2.5 dioptre glasses with similar-sized lenses. With the 2.5 dioptre, I adjusted my distance so that a page of Which just fitted inside the perceived height of the lens. I then slide in the 1.5 dioptre onto the same eye, and roughly a 15% increase in perceived height of the image resulted. In other words, an area of desk appeared around the Which page, which was roughly 15% of its height.

If you type into a word processor like Microsoft Word, and change from 10 point to 12 point text, which is a 20% height increase, you will see a profound improvement in readability. I suspect this has to do with edge identification in the striate cortex, but that is a whole new argument about which I don’t yet feel I know enough to pursue. But this does explain why when the optician prescribes you stronger glasses, you do see VERY MUCH better. But it appears that your focusing ability then weakens so that movement back to the weaker glasses is far harder, first because it harder to focus, second because your brain has got used to focussing less extremely, and third because you have lost the magnification effect.

Retraining the brain to focus again is hard. I have just order a pair of Traynor perforated glasses, to experiment further in this direction. Does anybody have a theory of how these do or do not work?

I do know for sure that a practicing optician moved me from 1.5 to 2.5 dioptre glasses, and that the two Bate’s exercises that I describe allowed me to go back to 1.5, and to throw away my long-distance glasses. Why on earth did that optician not recommend me to try these exercises? I told her that I used a computer at work. She did not even recommend me to change focus every 10 minutes, which is advice now generally available on the web, to avoid “spasm in the ciliary muscle”. I do know from experience that such spasm
exists, and that near-far focusing will alleviate it. I have theories about its cause, but have read no papers on it. Perhaps you can enlighten us.

Why on earth are you so quick to condemn the Bates’ exercises?

HiDEye says:
28 October 2010

Thank you for your input but as I see it you approach this in a specialised way.
Most people want quick practical answers to anything including sight problems.
Spectacles – for all their many drawbacks – supply the answers.

“Why on earth are you so quick to condemn the Bates’s exercises?”

1) I am not quick to condemn. This subject has been discussed and studied endlessly.

2) Very little objective evidence is findable to prove it.

3) It is very subjective – ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ has more truth than realised.
Humans have amazing brain functions that turn a ghastly retinal flashing wham-bam image into the most astounding perception of the real world. So what is a bit of image manipulation (clearing a nearly focused image of near print) to such an organ? ‘Mind over matter’ is another ancient saying, still applies with all its punch.

4) It takes dedication to do these exercises and most people cannot be bothered with the effort. There are very well known (convergence) exercises that are objectively provable to work but wild horses can hardly get people to do them even when they are mindlessly simple to do. Human nature makes its judgements on practical bases ie spectacles work.

Practising optometrists are forced* to work under NHS regulations at hopelessly uneconomic return for what is provided to the public. Trying to encourage eye exercises that won’t be carried out is just not sensible.

[* monopsony: effectively HMG is the only major controller of the purely optometric market. No optical business can do without it. No other profession is forced to sell its prime expertise at derisory rates. Optometrists would far far rather have full payment for that and stop the subsidy from spectacles. It is this cross subsidy that has given rise to all the arguments shown here, and the arise of frankly parasitic outlets whose whole unique selling point is at least in part fraudulent. Add in the multiple commercial ‘official’ optical outlets who just aid the ‘race to the bottom’ of the professional values they claim to elevate.

In spite of all that the public are vastly well served and many individuals are very aware of the benefits they have received – including life saving ones – and which continue with enormous technical inputs on both the eye examination and spectacle design and dispensing sides.]

There is a famous eye safety poster that is worth repeating:

“You are on your last pair of eyes – look after them very carefully”

Another is:

“False teeth work well. False eyes do not.”

I am replying to your reply to me, HiDEye.

Thanks for what seems a balanced reply. However, I would like to comment:

2.) The only real support for the “5 A Day” campaign, is I believe, the Massachusetts nurses study, and later trials on isolated extracted vitamins and anti-oxidants have failed to produce positive results, and yet this health advice is now widely accepted.
4.) The convergence exercises may be well-known to you, but unless an optometrist tells me about them during a consultation, my only access to them is through the sort of web site that I mentioned.
We are all now well-used to our GP’s recommending exercise as the solution to obesity, high blood-pressure and high blood-sugar, and a lot of people I know take regular exercise. Exercise for the eyes should not be too difficult a concept to get across.

Why cannot UK optometrists develop a similar web-site to sell advice on exercises, at a similarly reasonable price as the Better Vision web-site?

One sympathises with the problems of the current funding regime, where the true cost of an eye examination is amortised out over the purchase of several pairs of spectacles, and I would encourage Which to examine this regime.

However, if I pay (6 years ago) £160 for an examination and two pairs of speactacles that turn out not to be suitable and which are heavily scratched within 18 months, my market reaction to that is going to be to buy my spectacles elsewhere, provided I can find the quality. I am not so cynical as to suggest that the softness of the plastic used, is aimed at achieving planned obsolescense, and I gave the benefit of the doubt in suggesting that the need to “grind” them on the premises was the cause, but the alternative explanation does remain a possibility.

My problem as a heavy computer use is not really very specialised: there must be millions of us out there. I am at the better-informed end of that spectrum, because my AI studies have forced me to read the literature on Vision. That does give me a fairly painless entry to the relevant literature that will be denied to the majority of people with similar problems.

We rely upon optometrists to keep us appropriately informed.

The branch of the well-known chain at which I bought my unsuitable spectacles was in Milton Keynes, which is one of the heavy computing centres in the country, and one would have expected practitioners there to have read up on the related problems and produced a hand-out, at the very least.

Your parting shot
“You are on your last pair of eyes – look after them very carefully”

is very well aimed at the use of safety glasses in engineering and chemical works.

But what are you saying here, exactly? That if we use glasses other than the expensive ones provided by an optician, that we will irreperably damage our eyes? If so, then I must ask you for proof that the appropriate studies have been carried out. The comment on dying rabbits were a very concise expression of the concept that co-occurrence does not imply causation, and that controlled studies are necessary. My single personal experience is that the very spectacles supplied by the optician, made it difficult to carry out my work, and
promoted unsuitable accommodation that took me some to reverse using exercises. You have the opportunity here to refut my claims, by referring myself and other readers to known studies that would do this. They can then very easily find them using Google.

Your punters are also pushed for time, and they rely upon you for good information, rather than short epithets that could be interpreted as swelling your takings rather than optimising our health. I don’t want to have to negotiate with a health professional in order to obtain the truth: I expect you to make it freely available to me, admittedly in a cost-effective way that might require us to make some effort ourselves.

As I said the last time I visited my optician. “Those narrow little glasses aren’t ‘designer glasses’. I am a designer, and what a designer needs is the largest area of glass, so as not to impede his vision.”

Chris says:
26 October 2010

I use cheap specs for map reading when mountaineering, both on and off skis, often in bad visibility. They are a very valuable piece of kit and I can use them repeatedly and fairly roughly without worry. I would object strongly to anyone interfering with their availability. Common sense directs that one does not wear them whilst actually climbing or skiing!
The suggestion that part of the range should be banned is ridiculous. It smacks of the ‘nanny state’ where everyone is reduced to level zero – something we are now trying hard to move away from! Perhaps a cautionary note on the packaging of the stronger specs might be an idea worth considering. At least it would be consistent with the ideal of education rather than legislation!

I once bought ready made reading glasses. The following day my dog ran away. I will NEVER make the same mistake again and always go to my optician now. Since making that decision, my dog has never run away.

Lesson learned.

Well informed Joe says:
27 October 2010

I bought some ready readers from my local garage and then my Rabbit died. I have been to my Local Optician ever since and its never died again.

evenstevens says:
27 October 2010

As a retired engineer I have lots of ready readers which are different magnificational powerings. I use my +1’s to drive, my +1.5’s to watch TV, my +2’s for painting and my mechanical computational work, my +2.5’s for reading, my +3’s for my technical drawing and my +3.5’s for electronics and circuit board complications. My other half says my new +4’s will allow me to see the inside of an atom but I tell her not to be ridiculous because that’s what I use my scanning tunneling microscope is for.

She has a lovely pair of varifocals which she can use for everything but I’m happy with mine even though they only correct my left eye.

Vision Eyes says:
27 October 2010

Half these comments are by selfish optometrists trying to make us buy their High Street specs.
My ready readers are fine- better than Specsavers and cheaper

Selfish Optometrists who spend their day ensuring their patients have healthy eyes and potentially stopping people from loosing their most precious of senses. The NHS eye test is badly funded, Optometrists have to charge for their time by charging more than £1 for their spectacles inorder to continue to offer their services. The basic equipment that is needed costs thousands of pounds, the NHS test fee doesn’t pay for that.

I am glad your ready readers are fine. I hope you still have regular eye tests to make sure you are not loosing your sight. I hope you are visually safe for driving.

Vision Eyes says:
28 October 2010

It’s their job to test eyes and they are well enough paid for the work they do.I shouldn’t have to buy glasses from them to pay their bills- I have lots of my own

It’s a funny thing y’know, but you never see an optician on a bike do you?

Well informed Joe says:
27 October 2010

OK, An Eye Examination cost an Opticians apx £75, that is to pay for staff, rent, equipment etc, etc.

Cost to Public apx £25, so in fact Optometrists are giving some of the best value ever!!!!

As the researcher on this, it’s really interesting to read the different views. From my perspective, it’s great if consumers can choose a cheap and handy option, but it was a worry to see pairs from our small sample with some real nasties, and to know that there is research on a larger scale that came to similar conclusions. Even if you only pay a pound, surely you should expect the basics to be right, and – if they’re not – can we have the confidence to buy off-the-peg ready-readers on the high street at all?

Ready readers in themselves are not dangerous, if just used for close work. Might not get the best possible vision, but that’s your choice.

What IS dangerous is not getting your eyes tested. An eye examination is the best value health check there is.

Your optician will screen for glaucoma (you won’t know you’ve got it until you go blind otherwise), and can also pick up signs of diabetes, high blood pressure…the list is endless…

I reply to the reply to your posting.
Some years ago I had a period of high blood glucose, just inside the WHO (recently reduced) level for diabetes, so my GP now arranges retinopathy photographs to be taken at 2 year intervals. I am told that these are examined by highly trained operatives (and that I have no retinopathy).
Is it the case that the examination that occurs at the opticians is of the same degree of thoroughness, or should Which be pressing for retinopathy photographs to be taken of all individuals? Alternatively, Which might recommend that this service be bought from private health screening companies, or from opticians.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. It cost an awful lot more to make lenses up to a correct optical quality. Cheap is not always the best option.

Can I just thank A for reminding me of the good parts of the optician’s eye test, that have nothing to do with selling me over-expensive and unsuitable glasses.
One optician says on their Web site:
“One of the benefits of reaching 60 is that you’re entitled to a free NHS eye test every two years, rising to every year once you’re 70.”
I do check my blood-pressure regularly, and consult my doctor on it, and I have regular
photographs done of my retina (I need to do it again, and health service cuts mean the van that used to visit my GP’s no longer does so, and I think the local hospital wrote to me, inviting me
to visit).
NHS Choices says about Glaucoma:
“If left untreated, glaucoma can cause blindness. But if it is diagnosed and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be prevented” …
“Among white Europeans, about 1 in 50 people above 40 years old and 1 in 10 people above 75 years old has chronic open-angle glaucoma. It may be more common among people of black-African or black-Caribbean origins.”

So a regular eye-test for this looks like a good idea. How the optician gets paid for the test is not really my responsibility, and I have no intention of buying glasses to offset its cost.

My local garage charges £50/hour + VAT for labour, the main agent for my car charges double that, a plumber call out a few months ago [working hours] cost me £80 inc. VAT. for a half hour visit. Whilst optometrists receive vastly undervalued NHS exam fees for practices which can cost £tens of thousands weekly merely to cover all overheads topics such as here will always encourage the moaners who bleat on and on about the supposed costs of their spectacles. An underlying reality is that for many people spectacles are an unwanted burdonsome necessity they`d rather be without. Any excuse to castigate opticians because they have to make up their income lost on examinations will be levelled by those whose venom is quicker than their thinking processes.

Rip Off says:
28 October 2010

So many excuses for over charging. Glasses are pretty much the same everywhere. Why should I to pay just because it costs a lot for an optometrist to run their shop from a main street??? They should run there shops better or quit.
I get mine from the internet and never had a problem,, and I still get my eyes tested at Specsavers even though I would never pay for their glasses. The quality on the internet is better and cheaper than them anyway .

Well informed Joe says:
28 October 2010

So you would pay £75 per examination then??

Vision Eyes says:
28 October 2010

£75? For 15 minutes of work? Not worth that!

agwizard says:
28 October 2010

I, like most people over 40, suffer from presbyopia – the lenses in my eyes have hardened, and so can’t adjust to focus at close distances. Otherwise my vision is perfect. For me, the low-cost reading glasses are a godsend. I have pairs of different strengths for different purposes all over the house and in my car. The weaker ones are great for working at a computer screen (which I do 8 hours a day), slightly stronger ones for reading a book, and +2.5 or +3.5 for close work. One strength just wouldn’t work, as I have virtually no accommodation left, and I couldn’t possibly afford to buy prescription glasses at each strength. So please don’t ban the stronger cheap reading glasses, or I will never be able to change a watch battery again! These glasses are for people with presbyopia and otherwise perfect vision – a large proportion of the population – and for us they are ideal. But you should still get your eyes checked regularly, as this can catch other serious problems early.

Well informed Joe says:
28 October 2010


i look forward to my annual eye test as my optician always tells me about the latest innovations and it gives me the opportunity to choose a new look, just like winter gives me the opportunity to choose a new coat. i’d no sooner buy ready readers than get my new coat from a carboot sale!!

I was trying to think of something witty to lighten up this serious debate but in the end I gave up. I just didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself.

I think the eyes have it.

Foolishly I left my prescription reading glasses at home when going on holiday recently for a week. Unable to read, I tried several different strengths of Foster Grant glasses available at a Sainsbury’s pharmacy. No strength gave perfectly acceptable results for both eyes, so I opted for the strength that seemed the lesser of several evils. Although it allowed me to read such things as menus, I found it impossible to read a book for any length of time, as the text was blurred in one eye, especially if the light was not very good. So sadly the several books I had taken along to read in the evenings remained largely untouched. Although the glasses only cost around £10, they were no substitute for my prescription glasses, with which I can read perfectly well even in poor lighting conditions. They were also a poor fit, and rapidly became greasy, making matters worse, and as clearly many other people had tried them before me, unsurprisingly both lenses were slightly scratched to boot. Ah well, one lesson learned – make sure I remember my prescription reading glasses next time!

Unfortunately the “free” NHS means understandably clients/patients have little knowledge of how much any NHS service actually cost to provide, ie to cover buildings, staff, rent, equipment, tax etc approx £60 per exam. But the NHS, for some groups, only pays £20.70 for a sight test, the NHS is quite happy for higher private spectacle charges to cross subsidise the sight test, is this a stealth tax on glasses?
Is this fair? Many optometrists think not but whilst there is a reluctance amongst consumers to pay for service (sight test) optometrists have no or little choice.
As as has already been said, to spot disease, everyone should have a sight test even ready reader wearers. But how many proper spectacle wearers realise they have to be charged more for their own spectacles to subsidise those that buy ready readers. Is this fair, many optometrists think not but the NHS sight test contract prevents them from refusing to test ready readers eyes.

In fairness, I ought to say that the problems I had with unsuitable glasses were at SpecSavers. A website at
reports similar attempts to oversell bifocals/varifocals.

Before that, I went twice to Dollond and Aitchison, and was impressed with the service. But that was 17 years ago and my eyes had deteriorated since then (but the wonderful exercises from the “Better Vision” web-site have reversed most of this deterioration).
There is an independent optician in a nearby town. The yahoo web site quoted above suggests I might get a better service there.

I have just been using the chart invented by Dr. Gottlieb and presented at a conference of Behavioural Optometrists in 1980, I think it was. The “Better Vision” website sells this, with a very good explanatory video, but you can find the chart alone at

After 3 sessions of five minutes, I can once again, without glasses, read the text on the pop-up program descriptions on Sky TV, and most of the financial channels like CNBC and Bloomberg.
Before, I got double vision in my weaker eye, which spoiled the combined binocular image. I must add that 2 years ago I spent several hours with this chart, so I think I simply re-activated previous neural training. Dr. Gottlieb discusses this re-activation on the web-site.

I have a fairly detailed theory of why this chart works, but first I am going to give the optometrists the opportunity to tell me that I am lying, and why the chart cannot work.

If you were getting double vision in one eye only can you please explain how you think that was a muscular problem that could be solved by using the Bates method. Most probable cause of monocular double vision would be cataract which would be detected at an eye examination.

I believe that RR have their place in the market and often tell my patients that their prescription would lend itself to RR but I also tell them to try on multiple pairs of the ‘correct’ strength as they can vary quite wildly. In the same way I have no problem telling someone that they need proper prescription glasses to attain the best vision. My patients trust me to give them the best advice and I can think of no quicker way to lose my business than by betraying that trust to try and make a quick buck!

I run an Independent practice and would love to ditch the NHS test and only charge an appropriate amount to cover the costs of running the examination room; this will not happen whilst some offer an eye test as a loss leader deliberately. I may not like the system but I have to work with it.

OkeMan says:
9 November 2010

I get tested regularly at SpecSavers. After the test I check that the kind of issues I have with my eyes can be corrected OK with off the peg reading glasses, that I choose myself and satisfy myself that they do the business and don’t give me a headache. So far they have told me I can. Recently they told my wife that her eyes were too different from this solution, so she now has prescription reading glasses. If all optometrists did this, surely we wouldn’t have a problem?

There there really no legal requirements for off the peg glasses to be good for SOMEONE?