Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Distance Vision

Well, there is no more wandering this earth without glasses for me. I am at the threshold of must-wear-glasses-to-drive. And I have been camped in must-wear-glasses-to-read for well over a decade. Now, I have to get around with two pairs of glasses, at least one of which is usually sitting on my head.

I've never studied optics, or even thought about the subject. And I have an idiot streak. For years, I wondered why restaurants would pile the chairs on the tables at the end of the day. Seemed like a lot of choreography just to signify that the restaurant was closed. I think I was in my mid twenties when I finally figured out the purpose of this Sisyphean task. I was out to dinner with some chatty people and we closed the joint. The owner turned up the overhead lights and the bus boy put some chairs up and started sweeping. Which is when I had my epiphany. So THAT's why they pile those chairs up. (OK, so I have an idiot streak AND, as my poor husband will attest, I suck at cleaning).

All this to say that I have been under the mistaken belief that distance glasses are somehow different from reading glasses and must be hand-crafted to one's exact prescription. I've had multiple pairs of $16 rainbow-colored readers stashed all over the house for years. But the distance glasses were another story. I spent a lot of money on fragile Italian frames so funky, they should have come with an expiration date – the optical version of those idiotic boob-warmer sweaters all the young things were rocking back in 2006.

However passé those frames were starting to look, I was damn well getting my money's worth. Over the course of 6 years, I had the lenses replaced three times, until the delicate frames finally broke. I then spent six months squinting at road signs and complaining about the blurred TV set.

Finally, I stopped procrastinating and went in for an eye exam with a new ophthalmologist – an honest one. "Look," she admitted, "I'd love to make money off of you, but the fact is, all you need to see far is a 1.25 reader." It took a while for my sluggish brain to wrap itself around the concept of over-the-counter distance glasses. "Are you sure?" I asked the doctor. She was sure. Incredibly, no vision professional, opthalmologist or optometrist, had ever explained to me that over-the-counter glasses could also boost my distance vision, and I didn't have to shell out for those stupid designer frames.

The eye doctor did half-heartedly try to sell me on a few other options. Bifocals, contacts, prescription sun glasses, light-sensitive-prescription-sun-glasses-that-turn-clear-indoors and of course, eye surgery. I wasn't buying any of it, which was OK with her. She doesn't need the income: she's a renowned specialist in focusing issues. Patients come from all over the country to work with her. There's an autographed picture of Christopher from The Sopranos on her wall, thanking her for helping him read like a normal person. Full disclosure: my daughter went to this doctor for vision training. In addition to their sessions together, she had to buy special software to practice at home. Daily, diligently, she sat in front of the computer, wearing old timey 3-D glasses with a red lens and a green one, exercising her eyeballs. No doubt the training has made her a more efficient reader, but I could have bought a pair of designer distance specs for every day of the week with what she spent on her vision workouts.

So now I have added two pairs of distance glasses to my collection. Theoretically, one lives in the car, although it has a tendency to plant itself on my cranium and hitch a ride into the house. The other pair hangs out on my night stand, so I can watch TV. I do my best to remember to take them off before I get up and walk around. I'm trying not to notice the dust bunnies.

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