Presbyopia is a Pain in the Neck

At the age of fifty-one my eyesight is still 20/20. As long as you stay at least four feet away. To see closer than that, I have been stashing reading glasses everywhere, and even carrying them with me, as I mention in Outta Sight. But I finally have given in and decided that it is time to invest in bifocals, today’s Object at Hand.

Stylin’ the Progressive lenses for my Droid cam

I decided to go directly to the lineless style, not because of vanity, but because this gives me a range of focal distances. Little did I know what a trip this journey into glasses-land would be. When I first put them on, I did expect the world to get a bit absurd. Things seemed to swoop around me to the sides. But I trusted that my mind would figure out how to deal with this in a few days of continuous wear. I danced that night, enjoying the extra dizziness and in a woozy sort of way. And also the next dance that weekend.

I was thrilled that I could actually read my phone, my little Droid. It was nice to be able to focus on the faces of the women in my arms and still be able to see the room swirling around us. But as the first few days passed, my giddy sense of discovery waned. I became very aware of how blurry most of my field of view has become. I can only see about a 20 degree cone of sharpness, from the horizon up, and ten degrees to the left and right. I have to move my head around instead of just shifting my eyes. To see my feet, I have to press my chin to my chest. So now I have quite a sore neck.

I also have to sweep my head from side to side and up and down to read a magazine or my main computer screen. Even a paperback page blurs toward the edges. I realize that eventually my mind will learn that I can still read those fuzzy edges, and will stop insisting on wagging my head.

How bad is it? Here are views of graph paper and my garden, so you can see how weird my world now looks:

After two weeks, my eyes still tire early, but my neck is stronger.

Certain experiences were notably weird:

  • The first dance in a crowded room
  • The first bike ride
  • Walking through an aisle in a store
  • Walking down stairs
  • Driving at night (internal reflections in the lenses)
  • Gardening, as my sweat drips into my lenses, and sprinklers spot them on the outside.

I also still have not shaken the habit of taking my glasses off after reading or using the computer. On! I tell myself, “Glasses now are kept on my nose.”


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