Sunday, October 24, 2010

Through Several Pairs of Glasses, Darkly

My late husband, Tom, was 15 years older than I, so he was the first to need bifocals.  When that day dawned, however, he didn’t stop with one new pair of eyeglasses.  Noooo, he ended up with all-purpose bifocals, mid-range computer glasses, reading glasses, distance glasses for driving, bifocal sunglasses, driving sunglasses, sunglass clips for his bifocals and reading glasses, and several old prescriptions as backups.  The top drawer of his dresser was crammed with eyeglass cases.  We had a running joke that they were multiplying in the dark corners there.

When I too needed bifocals, I was determined to avoid the heap-o-lenses.  I bought just one pair of glasses with progressive lenses and some bifocal contacts.  Unfortunately, my brain never adjusted properly to the bifocal contacts.  I complained to my eye doctor and he proposed switching to monovision lenses.

I don’t know whether you are old enough to remember the series of Peanuts comics in which Charlie Brown’s sister Sally learns she has amblyopia and is forced to wear an eye patch; if not, click here to see the strip that explains what amblyopia is.  With monovision contacts, one eye is used for distance vision and the other for close work like reading.  One eye does all the work and the other takes a nap - in short, induced amblyopia.  The only difference is that the eyes take turns as the “lazy” eye.

I thought this was a ridiculous idea.  After all, what would happen to my depth perception?  To my peripheral vision?  Would I become an even worse menace on the highways?  Would I still be able to do computer graphics?  In the end, I was too vain to give up on contacts entirely.  I tried the monovision lenses and they worked.  But…

To get around the “no peripheral vision” thing when driving, I bought a pair of driving glasses to correct my reading lens prescription to distance vision.  Neither my contacts nor my bifocal glasses were ideal for computer work, so I bought a pair of computer glasses next.  All my new glasses eventually needed sunglass clips.  And a couple of old prescriptions are still kicking around, just in case.  So now I have a heap of eyeglass cases just like Tom’s, on a slightly smaller scale, plus all the cases and solutions and miscellaneous paraphernalia for my contacts.

I’m just hoping that I won’t need trifocals for at least another 20 years.

“No one knows for certain but all the evidence seems to point to the inventor of eyeglasses as an unknown artisan from Pisa, Italy circa 1286-87.” ~ David A Fleishman, MD. (

Update: I apologize for my erratic posting schedule this week;  our Internet connection has been only intermittently available.  I hope our cable provider finally has everything functioning properly!

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