". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Four Eyes

For most of my life I have not worn glasses. Then a few years ago it started getting much harder to read the the dosage instructions on medicine bottles and the ingredient listings on grocery store products. So I went to the eye doctor and was told I could use some reading glasses (translation: "You're getting old.") I got my first pair and gradually got used to wearing them. I remember feeling self-conscious the first time I wore them to accompany a choir rehearsal (as if anyone really noticed or cared--how silly is that? I guess we're all insecure adolescents at heart.)

A year or two after the first pair it was suggested that I should consider bifocals. Not only was the close-up vision deteriorating, but the distance was as well. (Translation: "You're really getting old.") The optician suggested progressive lenses ("a lot of people like them because they look younger and more stylish") but the insurance didn't cover them. So I picked out a frame and, lined bifocals in hand, entered the world of having multiple pairs of glasses. It was kind of nice. The first pair still worked, so I kept them by my bedside and carried the new pair in my purse.

Round three. At my eye check-up a few weeks ago I was told it was time for a new prescription. Seems my wayward eyes have still not found an oasis where they can just sit for a spell but are continuing to wander around the desert of deteriorating vision. But lo and behold, the insurance plan now covers graduated lenses! And the doctor said they would help out with computer reading (which I do a bit of), so I signed on the dotted line and awaited my new eyes.

When they arrived I tried them out in the store and they seemed fine. But upon arriving home it didn't take long for me to realize that they were not going to work. You see, the eye doctor doesn't have a piano or a Book of Concord in his lobby. So those were untested waters. And the first time I tried to play the piano in the new glasses I realized I couldn't see the top line of music without throwing my head back. Same thing when I tried to read my Book of Concord (it's a hefty volume, so I don't tend to read it sitting in a chair with the book in my lap but at the kitchen table with the book held up in front of me).

Back to the eye doctor I went, and discovered that the problem is those fashionable graduated lenses. You see, "progressive" means what it says. It's not just that the line is gone. It's that there is a gradual change from the top of the bifocal to the bottom, including a gradual increase in reading power. So one doesn't get the greatest magnification until the very bottom of the lens. If I am trying to read something that is directly in front of me or even slightly higher than eye level (such as piano music often is) I am going to have problems.

The glasses have been sent back and I am currently using pair #2 and developing a new appreciation for my friend, the bifocal line. When I look above the line, I can see far away. When I look below the line, I can read. It's simple and straightforward, and I can handle it. Who needs stylish?

Thanks, Ben (or whomever). And Dorothy, honey? You were wrong.


Elephantschild said...

I worn glasses since I was four yrs old, with a brief stint in contacts while in high school.

Glasses are awesome. I like being able to pick out new frames (I make myself go 10 years - shhhh- but I do get the lenses updated as needed.) My right lens is so blasted thick that even with the super-expensive ultra-thin featherweight lens it's still a Coke-bottle bottom.

I don't think lined bifocals are really going to be the death strike to my image.

Nor to yours, dear. Besides, you've got that fabulous hair...

Elephantschild said...

**HAVE WORN** glasses.


Barb the Evil Genius said...

I've had glasses or contacts since I was five. My very first pair of glasses were bifocals.

Hannah J said...

I've had glasses for about ten years; I was jealous when Tim got his, and therefore extremely pleased when I got my first pair. Now I have the worst vision in the family. :]

steve martin said...

My Aunt Ellen lived to be 89 years old and never ever needed to use glasses.

She drank right from the bottle...