Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh, say, can you see?

I have been nearsighted (short sighted) for as long as I can clearly recall although, due to neglect and parsimony on the part of my mother, I did not get my first pair of glasses until I was 13.

By that time I was so used to seeing the world in a rather soft, foggy, Impressionist manner that it felt normal, making the sharp focus of the lenses a bit jarring. Add that I was just beginning to discover boys and the phrase “men never make passes at girls who wear glasses” was taken as gospel, and I pretty much kept my glasses in my handbag except when I needed them to see the blackboard or TV. And, of course, in front of my mother who admonished “I paid for the damned things, now you better wear them if you know what’s good for you!” But out from under her hawk-like gaze I continued to walk around in a soft-edged, slightly fuzzy, gently familiar world.

I have now had glasses for 50 years, and I still like my world foggy, soft-edged. Oh, I put on glasses when I need them…for driving, for TV, for reading signs and such, but for the most part I am content to go without them. In fact, most of the time you will find them conveniently parked on top of my head like an Alice band, ready to whip down when needed, but safely out of the way when not.

So, a couple of weeks ago it was time for new glasses. I have finally found a 1-hour shop that makes the glasses on the premises (a rare service here! LensCrafters, are you listening??), and so I popped in one morning to get fitted for new specs. Fifteen or so years ago a Kaiser* ophthalmologist found “vacuoles” in my eyes which he said were precursors to cataracts, but that I should not worry about it because it would take years for them to develop. Well…it’s been years…and they’ve developed. And the local doc told me it was time to see an eye surgeon and schedule the surgery to have them removed.

My late husband had the surgery, so I pretty much know what to expect medically. It’s a pretty routine out-patient procedure with a low rate of complication. I have just two apprehensions about the procedure: 1) they want me to be awake and conscious while they cut into my eyeball…I do not think so!! And 2) there are now multi-focal lenses to implant in the eye that allow the eye to function more normally, allowing a shift in vision distances without glasses.

Ok, that last seems like a good thing. When Chuck had his surgery, they implanted little plastic lenses with “mid range” distance: he could watch TV without them and use the computer, but for driving and for reading, he needed bifocals. I’ve been wearing a blended bifocal for more than 20 years and the “near vision” part of them just doesn’t seem to work well for me…even my newest ones, which are supposed to be at the apex of their technology. Today, apparently, you can get a miniaturized version of these multi-focal lenses actually implanted in the eye during cataract surgery. Sounds great…but what if they don’t work so well when I want to read fine print or do hand sewing? Will I need to get magnifying glasses to put on top of my implanted lenses? Does that even make sense?

I do have the option of single focal lenses for the implants, like for distance or close up, and to have glasses for the rest. Somehow this appeals to be better…I have worn glasses the vast majority of my life and my face looks funny to me without them. But perhaps most importantly, I’m not exactly keen to give up my soft-edged Impressionist world. I kinda like the blobs of colour that refine themselves into identifiable objects as I approach, eventually coalescing into recognizable objects, people, animals...things. Most of my life I wore glasses for distance only, having sufficient acuity to read, sew, draw, write with my glasses off. Drawing closer or putting on my glasses brought items more than an arm’s length away into clear, sharp focus; stepping back or removing my glasses returned my gentle, Impressionistic view of the world. I’m finding myself reluctant to give that up, to forever take away my ability to retreat into the dreamy, indistinct haziness that has been my life’s vision for all my days.

Maybe the fact that my vision can be fully corrected does not necessarily mean that it should.

*an American health maintenance organization (HMO) to which I belonged

1 comment:

  1. Hey SV, I finally came up for air--and my book is finally, completely finished. And I am so proud of it. I really do think it is a good book at this point.

    Anway, your post made me smile because I remember when I first went into recovery, I finally got my eyes checked. I hadn't worn glasses or contacts for many years at that point--and when I finally put the contact lenses in, the first thing I noticed was how dirty the corners of my house were (couldn't see the dustballs before) and how OLD I looked! Hahahahahaha! For years, I'd been viewing myself with the softness of the partly blind! Reality came as a shock.

    Hope you are well--I'll be writing soon. I've really been immersed in my book, which is great but now it's finally finished. The only thing I'm doing now is to put the finishing touches by finding lyrics for each of the chapters.

    Take care, my friend!



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