Posts Tagged ‘eyesight’

Viewing A Globe

For my forty-fifth birthday, I bought myself a present: a pair of progressive lens bifocals.

It’s not that I felt the need to get bifocals. Rather, I sort of felt pressured into getting them because I was told that I’m getting older and that they would help me see better.

I hadn’t been to the eye doctor in three years, and it seemed wise to go for a routine checkup. It just happened that the first available appointment was on my birthday. For nearly twenty years, I wore glasses regularly for my distance vision. I’ve never had trouble seeing up close. My eyes weren’t so bad that I needed a very strong prescription; it was more of a situation where I didn’t want to sit in the back of the room because I had trouble seeing the writing on the chalkboard.

Then an odd thing started to happen about seven or eight years ago. I began to notice a subtle “squeezing” sensation in my eyes while staring at the computer screen at my job. I found that the sensation went away when I took off my glasses. It wasn’t a big deal as I’d never needed them for up close vision correction anyway. So a new routine began whereby I wore my glasses only when I wasn’t sitting in front of the computer rather than throughout the entire day.

Eventually, I got into the habit of wearing my glasses less and less, and before long, I wasn’t wearing them at all. I could see well enough to function, even far away, although I continued to wear them when driving. To my surprise, my vision began to improve of its own accord, and it got to the point where I didn’t really need the glasses at all. Although my eyesight wasn’t 20/20, the blur with distance had diminished quite a bit. Now the only time I wear glasses is while driving – and that’s only because if I were to be pulled over, the officer would demand to know why I wasn’t wearing glasses since my driver’s license says I need corrective lenses.

So during my recent eye exam, the doctor started talking to me about bifocals. And I had no idea why because I can see up close. Things aren’t blurry up close like they are slightly blurry in the distance. Because I was puzzled about the doctor bringing up bifocals, I started to ask questions about them and how they would help since I could see up close. That’s when he started getting huffy and annoyed. I like to say we got into an argument about bifocals, but it probably wasn’t so much an argument as it was a misunderstanding. Even so, he seemed to think I was challenging him when I was merely trying to understand why I would need bifocals when I had no trouble seeing up close. His attitude ticked me off, though, and I won’t even get into the “discussion” we had when I asked about getting a monocle.Joseph Chamberlain

I can see perfectly fine up close. In fact, I don’t really understand why I’m legally obligated to wear glasses while driving. I mean, I know where I’m going. I’ve lived in this city for more than 20 years, and I know where things are. If I have occasion to drive somewhere unfamiliar, I’ll print out a nice map courtesy of Google Maps or Mapquest and commit it to memory so that when I arrive in the new environment, I know where I need to go. It’s really not a big deal, and glasses or no, I’m able to drive more than adequately.

But in all seriousness, I’ve also got a sure-fire back-up system to ensure that I drive safely – my trusty beagle, Bumpers. When I need to drive somewhere, Bumpers sits beside me in the front passenger seat, and I follow Bumpers’ guidance. For instance, if he thinks I should turn left, Bumpers places his left front paw on my leg. If I need to turn right, Bumpers stands up and pokes his nose out the passenger door window.

Turn Right!

Turn Right!

If I need to slow down, Bumpers will let out a short bay. If it is safe to pass the car in front of me, Bumpers will give a quick, short bark. And if someone is tailgating me, Bumpers will make a low, continuous growl. I mean, who needs glasses to drive when you’ve got Bumpers?

When I renewed my driver’s license last month, I suggested to the clerk that Bumpers be with me in my photo since he was, after all, my seeing-eye dog. The look of incredulity on the clerk’s face was something to behold. (I could see it because it was up close.) I guess I’m fortunate that they renewed my license that day.

Anyway, the new bifocals arrived and I tried them on. The verdict? They don’t really help. Now, everyone keeps telling me the bifocals will take some time to get used to, and I can accept that. But here’s the thing – they don’t help me see any better. The distance area of the lenses is okay, though it could be bigger. The mid- and close-up areas, well, there isn’t an improvement in my vision by using them. Without them, I can see the computer screen clearly, and I can read things up close just fine. So I’m still unclear as to why I need bifocals. I keep telling everyone that I can see, and why nobody believes me is a mystery.

The day may (and probably will) come when I’ll actually need the bifocals to improve my vision, and I’m okay with that. I’m not so vain or stubborn that I would insist on stumbling through the world in a blur knowing that a simple fix is right in front of my face. But wearing the bifocals now when they don’t help me see better – well, I just don’t see the point.

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