can you have glasses in prison

Can You Have Glasses in Prison

The Importance of Vision in Prison

Being incarcerated doesn’t mean an end to basic human needs, and vision is undeniably one of them. One of the significant concerns when discussing prisoner rights revolves around healthcare, and it goes beyond treating illnesses or injuries.

The Basic Prisoner Rights

Despite being behind bars, inmates retain certain rights. These include the right to humane facilities and conditions, to be free from sexual crimes, to complain about prison conditions, and to medical care and attention as needed.

Healthcare in Prisons

Healthcare facilities are a fundamental part of prisoner rights, with authorities responsible for ensuring adequate health services. These include medical, dental, and, yes, vision care.

Role of Vision Care in Prison Healthcare

Vision care is a critical part of prison healthcare, although it might not receive as much attention as other health services. Poor vision can affect an inmate’s life, causing difficulty in reading, learning, or even performing daily tasks.

Provision of Glasses in Prisons

Prison Rules and Regulations Regarding Glasses

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In most prisons, inmates are allowed to wear glasses. The rules vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific institution, but generally, glasses are deemed necessary medical devices and are permitted.

Acceptable Glasses Types in Prisons

The type of glasses allowed may be restricted to minimize potential harm. For example, plastic frames may be required, while metal frames or glasses with additional components such as springs may be prohibited due to security concerns.

Process of Obtaining Glasses in Prison

Usually, if an inmate needs glasses, they will undergo an eye examination conducted by an optometrist within the prison health service. The glasses are then provided based on the prescription given by the optometrist.

Challenges Faced by Inmates Needing Glasses

However, getting glasses in prison isn’t always straightforward. There can be lengthy delays, and the quality of glasses provided may not be up to par. This could result in inmates having to make do with ill-fitting or inappropriate glasses.

Impact of Glasses on Prison Life

Security Concerns Related to Glasses

While glasses are a necessity for some, they also pose potential security risks. They can be broken and used as weapons, or their metal parts could be fashioned into lock picks or other contraband items.

Strategies to Mitigate Security Risks

To address these security issues, prison officials have put several strategies in place. This includes using glasses with plastic frames and non-removable lenses, and frequently inspecting them.

Benefits of Allowing Glasses in Prisons

Despite the challenges, providing glasses to inmates who need them has several benefits. Improved vision can help an inmate engage better with their surroundings, participate in educational programs, and even contribute to better behavior.

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Improvement in Inmate Behaviour

Seeing clearly can decrease frustration and improve an inmate’s demeanor, potentially reducing conflict and maintaining a more peaceful environment.

Enhancement of Rehabilitation Efforts

Providing glasses can also contribute to rehabilitation efforts. Better vision allows inmates to engage in educational and vocational programs, increasing their chances of successful reintegration into society upon release.


Yes, you can have glasses in prison. It’s a complex issue with both logistical and security implications, but overall, prisons recognize the importance of vision care and provide necessary facilities. It’s not just about sight, but about upholding human rights, ensuring safety, and facilitating rehabilitation.


1. Can you bring your own glasses to prison?

Generally, you can’t bring personal items, including glasses, to prison. You’d have to use the ones provided by the prison health services.

2. Are there optometrists in prison?

Yes, many prisons have healthcare services that include optometrists.

3. Are contact lenses allowed in prison?

It depends on the specific prison rules, but generally, contact lenses are not encouraged due to hygiene and security issues.

4. Can inmates get glasses for reading?

Yes, if an eye exam determines that reading glasses are necessary, the inmate should be provided with them.

5. How often can inmates get new glasses?

This varies by prison, but typically, new glasses are provided when an optometrist determines a change in prescription is necessary.

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