Friday, October 7, 2011

The Eyes Have Hills

I had perfect vision for most of my life. As I approached forty, I suddenly realized I couldn’t read close up. At first, I had to hold menus a foot and a half in front of me, then at arm’s length, just to see them. Pretty soon, I had to have someone else hold the menus. Sadly, I wound up only able to eat at restaurants that have their menus lit up on the wall. So, I went to the eye doctor. Much to my horror (I have a lot of denial in me), he prescribed reading glasses. The first time I wore them, a friend (?) of mine laughed and said I looked like a school teacher.

For the next five years, my prescription had to be increased. I finally asked the eye doctor “What do I do when my nose can no longer support the weight of my lenses?” He said (and this is why he is no longer my eye doctor) “The good news is that your eyesight will probably never get worse than it is now.”

Yeah, well it did. I tried to live with it, but while clothes shopping, I realized that the number six and the number eight looked exactly alike and thinking I was trying on an eight (which was really a six) I would become deeply depressed that I couldn't get the zipper up.  And, I left a trail of waiters who either got a very generous tip, or a very minimal one, depending on the amount I perceived was on the bill.

I went to a new eye doctor. After saying hello to the coat rack, I was led into the exam room. Pointing to the eye chart, the doctor asked “What is the smallest line you can read?” “The fifth one down” I responded, and smiled. “Okay, could you read it, please?” “Out loud? In that case, the second one down.” He rubbed his forehead. After some discussion, he recommended monovision (at first I thought he said Bonovision, and I wondered if I would look good in big glasses with yellow lenses), which is placing different contacts in each eye—one for close up and one for distance. He said “It will take a couple of weeks for your brain to adjust.”

Six months later, my brain had not adjusted yet. I was getting used to the halos around all lights, but I was still having problems with hallucinations depth perception. It became obvious one day when my husband and I were driving on the highway. There was a lot of traffic, but it was moving along pretty fast at seventy five miles an hour. I looked up from what I was reading, and saw (four or five vehicles ahead of us) a massive truck, which appeared to be stopped because we were gaining on it so quickly. My husband was not slowing at all, so I let out a scream. “What? What’s wrong?” he asked. I pointed ahead, just as I realized that the “truck” I saw was actually one of those electronic highway signs that stretch over the road. My husband was still staring at me. “Well?” “Sorry, I thought I saw something” was all I could say. He told me please don’t scream in the car ever again. I told him I would try not to.

In my defense, I read a story about a recent plane crash. After an investigation, they determined that the reason for the crash was: “The inability of the captain, because of his use of monovision contact lenses, to overcome his misperception of the airplane's position relative to the runway during the visual portion of the approach.” I feel for you, Captain.

It took me two years (I like to think my brain is stubborn, not slow) to adjust and now I can read and see in the distance, just as well as when I was younger. I ran into (not literally) my friend the other day, and she was wearing glasses. Of course, it would be very petty of me to tell her she looked like a school teacher. So, I told her she looked like a librarian.


The Quintessential Magpie said...

'“Sorry, I thought I saw something” was all I could say. He told me please don’t scream in the car ever again. I told him I would try not to."'

Boy, does this sound familiar! I finally broke down and got glasses. Little round tortoise shell ones that make me look like an "intellectual." That's what I think anyhow. LOL! I actually don't mind. But I do miss having 20/20 vision.

Glad your monovision straigthened itself out and that no passersby were harmed during the period of "adjustment." ;-)



Susan Mangigian said...

Elaine, I've been wearing glasses since 3rd grade. I am very near sighted and can't see past my nose without glasses or contacts. At 9, I wore cat eyed shaped coke bottles. I couldn't get contacts until I was 16 and I graduated high school at 16 so you can imagine I lead a pretty sheltered life until then.

At about 43 I noticed that while my contacts and glasses were great to see almost everything, menus and agreements of sale were getting a little fuzzy. I wore reading glasses over my contacts for a while and would have to take my contacts out to thread a needle because the only good thing about being as myopic as I am is that I can see very close as long as I don't correct my distance vision. So I can thread a needle but if you talk to me and I look up, I can't see your face.

About 2 years ago I got what I consider a miracle. Bifocal contacts. The center is my distance vision, the edges are my reading vision and I love them. I had no adjustment period at all, and I have no idea how they work, but they do.

This made me smile, as usual! xxoo

Elaine said...

Susan, I feel for you. I had braces in junior high and was SO self conscious. I may have to talk to my doctor about bifocal lenses and see if I'm a candidate. Thanks for dropping in to my world!!!

Entertaining Women said...

Oh, dear God, this makes my day. I shall laugh all the way til morning. I was legally blind from the time I was 6 years old. I could eventually be fitted with contacts, so I could see; but I could never be fitted with eye glasses. At age 55, I could no longer tolerate contacts (monovision), and I had to do the best that I could with glasses. Three years ago, I was able to have cataract surgery on both eyes...the best thing that's ever happened to me next to my beloved husband and children. I can see 20/20, and I go to be at night amazed that I can see the bedroom ceiling. I pray that you develop will eventually allow you to return to your world of normal sight. By the way, they put in monovision implants, and I'll never even have to wear reading glasses. God is good. Cherry Kay

Kathleen said...

Hmm, I am a school teacher, but don't need glasses to read. I can't see distance though !
I hope what Cherry Kay says comes true for you. Dh had it done, but eventually needed glasses again to read.

Thanks for your visit. I agree that people should think about a cure for breast cancer not only in Oct., but all cancer too. I just lost a friend to pancreatic cancer. 2 months from diagnosis to death.