Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yes, I Am Officially Middle-aged

I’ve always had perfect vision.

20/17 in both eyes, plus 20% above average night vision.

Unfortunately, I am now 47 (and a half).

Which means that for the last couple of years I’ve been slowly developing presbyopia.

It had gotten to the point where my arms simply weren’t long enough to read any more – and actually it was worse than that, I just didn’t know it.

Over time I’ve gradually stopped reading on a regular basis. Reading paper books anyway. It really had become uncomfortable and painful.  Mostly I had started reading on the computer, the tablet specifically.  It’s backlit, I can set the font size to whatever I want, and I can download books with much less effort than going to the bookstore.  But I really started to miss old fashioned paper – and you can’t get everything electronically either.

My eyesight had been so far above average that it really took a long time for me to get to the point where I had to admit that I needed correction. Eventually though, I realized that no matter how I held the damned pill bottle or how much I squinted, I simply could not read the microscopic print and crappy font anymore. Period. (Hell, considering that most drug companies print the medication information in a special font called “Pharmasquint .0005pt” it’s a wonder anybody can read it without a magnifying glass the size of the Hale Observatory. Seriously Drug Companies, WTF huh?).

Anyway, long story short, I finally had enough.

Last week I went to see the eye doctor (or iDoc to use the modern vernacular).

My eyes are in great shape…”considering my age” (Seriously, it’s a good thing the doctor was pregnant, otherwise I’d have smacked her upside the head with my walker).  Aside from the presbyopia, everything else looked good (pun most certainly intended). My distance vision is still way above normal. My night vision has faded a bit, it’s still above average, but not nearly what it used to be.  And I needed reading glasses.

She wrote me a prescription – or rather her computer did.

And I took that over to the eye glasses store.

After perusing the available frames, I ordered a pair of Ray-Bands with polycarbonate lens. $200 freakin’ dollars they cost me with the military discount – but that included lifetime frame and lens warranties.  See, I have absolutely none of the habits glasses wearing people have – so I tend to forget glasses. I tend to break glasses. I tend to sit on glasses. I tend to leave glasses laying lens down on sandpaper. And now you know why I only buy the $9 cheapo sunglasses, and why I buy a lot of them. I figured I better have some insurance and “unbreakable” lens and “ultra flex” frames.



It took a week and I was actually excited to get the call telling me they were ready.

Holy moley, what a difference.

I can read again. Comfortably.

I can see things close up.

And I suddenly realized that the computer screen wasn’t half as clear or easy to read as I thought it was – which might explain the large number of typos I’ve been making lately, which I can suddenly see in all their glaring glory.

This also explains why you get a post today about my eye exam instead of something more interesting – because I spent my spare time this evening reading The New Space Opera instead of blogging (it could be worse, I could have had a proctology exam. Count your lucky stars).

Yes, I am officially middle-aged.

And I can see that clearly now.


  1. My near-sightedness (I don't know, about 20/60- and that's the corrected number) is so far overcoming any tendency towards prebyopia. The eye doctor warns me that the next step is gonna be bifocals, though.

  2. I had bifocals in fourth grade. :p

    At some point apparently I grew out of needing them though because I've had single-focals for over a decade.

    Though speaking of vision, recently I discovered that my glasses from ten years ago actually work better than my current ones. I'm sure not complaining. Will have to speak to the optician about that the next time I feel financially secure, because glasses technology has advanced a lot since then. See, it used to be that to correct nearsightedness, the lenses would just make everything smaller. Nowadays they've figured out how to get it to not do that (or at least not so much). So my glasses from last decade correct better, but everything is smaller, and the glasses themselves are also heavier.

    Not that I'm looking to spend yet another $400 on a new pair of glasses. ($200 for the frames, $200 for the actual lenses, though that was a few years ago and who knows what it is now....)

    ... which makes me want to ramble off on a tangent about universal health care and how it includes dental and vision in real countries. :p Because, come on, health is the entire body, which includes eyes and teeth...

    Err. I'm going to bed now. >.>

  3. Ha ha ha, look at the four eyes. (before anybody gets all pissed, I've worn glasses since fourth grade)

    And yes, you don't need to describe the snap of the glove, the whiff of the KY. We just don't need that.

    Ah, I remember the AF docs telling me how I was "legally blind." Really? So I, uh, couldn't see well enough to punch you in the nose, wanna bet me?

    But what I truly hate about the "new" glasses is how much they distort color and perspective at the edges (both of my new glasses do that). Sigh.

  4. Pondering....


    Okay, I give up. I get that you celebrated your newfound vision by comfortably reading a new book. Congrats on that, by the way--the vision thing I mean, not the reading. But how would you have celebrated the proctology exam?

  5. But how would you have celebrated the proctology exam?

    By writing a "Things That Chap My Ass About My Ass" post, obviously.

  6. The summer I turned 40 I got my first pair of bifocals. I loved them pretty much instantly (after I learned how to walk down stairs without falling on my face, that is...). I still love them.

    TheHusband needs bifocals, but he is resisting with all his might. That must be because he's a pig-headed, stubborn former Navy crypto.

  7. "lifetime frame and lens warranties". Ha!

    The "lifetime" of a glasses is about 6 months and then they don't make those frames anymore because they're out of style and the lens technology has changed and the new lenses won't fit your old frames. Glasses warranties are about as good as a politician's promise the day after the election. Tape on the bridge still works though.

    I speak from bitter experience wearing warrantied glasses with unmatched temples. My "progressive vision" glasses cost $900 and they're not covered by health care in my phony country (I'm looking at you MWT), Canada. Also, apparently to get the military discount you have to actually have served in the military, watching all the MASH episodes doesn't count. Who knew?

  8. Welcome to my world.

    I've had glasses for distance on and off since the 3rd grade. About 20 years ago I switched to contact lenses, then as the distance correction got stronger I had to compensate with readers for close up. With the contacts out, my close vision is perfect.

    Then they came up with multi-focal contact lenses. OMG, it's a miracle! Don't need the readers any more!!!

    Now, bi-focal contacts have been around for awhile, but they were hard to deal with and if they got out of position they'd play hell with your vision. However the advent of mass computer usage brought about the need for mid-range correction and the multi-focal lenses do exactly that. One of the few commercial on air where the product does exactly what it claims to do!

    I'm now on the second generation of multi-focal and actually was able to reduce my distance strength. Right now though I'm trying to retrain my left eye to take a contact, a hairline scratch scar on my inner eyelid is not cooperating so I'm doing mono-vision with a multifocal lens in the right for distance.

    Bottom line - which you can now see - glad we're finally in focus.

  9. Jim, it's good the rain is gone... ("I can see clearly now...").

    I also wore glasses from an early age. At 12 I was catcher on a Little League team. Things were fine until I missed a wild pitch that went back to the backstop. While I was looking for the ball, 3 runs came in. I was taken to the optomitrist the next day. That started "glasses any time you are awake."

    24 years later, contacts, then disposable contacts, then extended-wear disposables. Then a corneal scratch led to the discovery that my eyes weren't getting enough oxygen through the "gas-permeable soft contacts". I was told the only contacts I could wear were the ones you had to take out every night, and put back in the next morning. Nope! Not for me.

    LasIK! (that actually is the correct way to write that. Laser Intrastromal Keratotomy) Woot! 20/200 right eye corrected to 20/20. 20/60 left eye left alone. Natural monovision with readability (or would that be read ability?). No need to wear glasses or contacts, or to mess with my eyes first thing in the morning. Double woot!

    But I now need readers, too. Just magnifiers, and really just for low light or small print. Which I do enough of. But not enough to take the magnifiers with me when I leave the house.

    Instead of having "arm extensions" to enable me to read, I now use "brain extensions". I ask someone else, "does this say xyz?"

    I'm good with that.

  10. I was gonna say that he's kinda cute in glasses too. It's that geeky librarian look.

    Men in tool belts are hot too. :)

    And, I've been wearing my progressive bifocals (I need almost no distance correction, I just like having them ON all the time rather than trying to find them when I need to read something) for a couple of years now and really like them.

  11. Those progressive lenses sound interesting. I have good close vision and poor 'far' vision (far keeps getting closer). It plays havoc with using the computer as the keyboard is always close (and I have to look at it - Mario Teaches Typing failed me) so I can't wear my distance glasses to see the screen, ergo the screen is 12" from my face. I would like to move the screen back but then its blurry or with glasses looking at the keyboard makes my head hurt.

    have to talk to them about progressives.. I heard bad things though, that you end up tilting your head all the time looking for the tiny line of clear-focus in a sea of blur.

  12. I think I was around 42 when I decided to get (a) reading glasses and (b) multifocal regular glasses -- when I mentioned this to my regular doctor at the annual physical, he glanced at my age and said, "right on schedule." Cheeky old bastard. (grin)

    This last set of glasses I opted to go for "office glasses" -- these are reading bifocal glasses for close in reading and computer use. I specifically wanted true bifocals, because the multifocals with astigmatism correction make too many distortions, and I want my computer screens to be rectilinear, thank you very much.

    As for color, I have only ever worn real safety glass since the 3rd grade. My dad was a chemist. I've found that here in West Michigan, as a legacy of a GM plant, my eye doctor discounts safety glass considerably. The deal they have with the optical house is a bulk deal, so it doesn't matter if you are GM or not.

    As I used to be a semi-pro photographer, I have little tolerance for the quality of the view through plastic lenses. And more than once things have pinged off my lenses where I've been glad to have that extra thickness.

    Of course safety glass is heavy, so I have lightweight titanium safety frames. (double-vision-grin)

    Dr. Phil

  13. I've worn glasses since about age 12, it would have been age 5 but my mother didn't believe in glasses for young children as long as they could see to read.

    I've always been able to read without them, although no longer in dim light, but usually wear them all of the time.

    Multifocus here, and I'm wearing the third set of lenses in the 8 year old frames.

  14. Is that you wearing your new specs or is that Scalzi peeking through your letterbox?

  15. Mark- If you can tolerate contacts, see if your eye care folks can get them for you. The trick is to get the right changeover adjustment (from distance to mid to close), it took me a couple tries to get the right combination of script & shift.

    The ones I use are the Baush & Lomb PureVision Multi-Focal, which are made with their Hydra-Clear technology (lets lots of oxygen through) and are extended wear. Lenses are good for a month, and only have to come out once a week for cleaning. They're doing a lot of advertising right now and if you check out the B&L website, they may have specials to entice new users.

    As I spend my life at a computer, these have been ideal with the midrange correction. I can read docs, easily view my computer screen and switch to check something in the distance without thinking. Very natural. And lest anyone think the close-up view is suspect, I can clearly read the entire lens package in front of me and it's maybe in 5pt mouse-print!!

    Good luck!!

  16. Dave, that's me snapped with the crappy cam on my tablet under low light - sort of a snapshot of my near vision sans spiffy new reading glasses.

    Scalzi usually peeks in through the dog door.

  17. I'm with Michelle and Jeri - men in glasses are HAWT. Rawr.

    I've been wearing glasses since I was eight, but I actually remember having 20/20 vision once upon a time. I was certain, though, that when I got my current pair of glasses I'd have to get bifocals because it was getting harder to read small print. I didn't - just got a better prescription. However, I think my next pair will definitely be bifocals. Small print is getting very tough for me to read. The odd thing is that moving the reading matter makes it worse - I have to lift my glasses and bring it closer to my face. I'm not sure what that's about, but I'll let my optometrist know so that I can get the correct prescription.

  18. Now that I'm in my 40s I've noticed that it's getting harder and harder to read dates on coins, a habit I've had since collecting them briefly as a teen. Bowing to the inevitable, I'm already wondering what kind of frames to get when paperback book text begins to go blurry.

    So, everyone who thinks guys in glasses are hawt, any kind of frames to get or avoid? ;)

  19. timb111: My optician was able to get lenses made for my out-of-date frames so that I wouldn't have to buy new ones. Plus he keeps fixing them for free - replaced the nosepads, a broken screw, etc. At the moment one of the earpieces is falling apart and kept getting caught in my hair, which was partly what caused me to try on my stash of older glasses. As it turns out, I have a pair of reading glasses that never worked well for me (think that was the first step away from bifocals) but the frames are lighter than what I'm wearing at the moment, so next time I have funds I'll try to talk him into making lenses for them.

    So to summarize, I guess the US is realer than Canada on some fronts after all. :D

    Also, up until this decade, despite how bad the eye doctors have determined my nearsightedness to be, I've always been able to see just fine. Just, not the details. I can see the walls just fine and don't bump into them, I can find individual objects, etc. I just can't read.

  20. Hope you don't mind a random comment from a new visitor. I beat you all on Starting Glasses Young. Had some eye surgery and got my first pair of glasses before age 2. (And you ask, "How did you read the chart?" I didn't. I saw a doctor whom I now know is considered by many to be the father of pediatric opthalmology -- he'd get you to focus on something and then peer inside your eyes.) But, having worn these things for nearly 40 years, I've developed some of those habits of glasses-wearing people to which Jim was referring. Taking care of my specs is second nature -- I always decline the insurance on them, because if they're well made, my prescription will change long before I break them. (We'll just ignore that one pair at the bottom of the Pacific. Never kayak without your croakie.)

  21. Bah! I am 48 and took up "readers" years ago. I use the very fashionable $20 glasses from Wally world. After sitting on, crushing, and dropping them, I went cheap. You will also find that placing one in the bathroom, kitchen, garage, shed, living room and office is easier than carrying one pair around. Welcome to my world!

    Best comment on wearing them for the first time: "you look like a very sexy school teacher". Got to love that!

  22. nzforme, but all means, feel free to join in the conversation.

    Anonymous, I may get a couple pairs of the generic readers and place them around the house and shop as you suggest. My prescription is pretty standard, should be easy to find generic readers to match it. But I wanted to make sure I had a really good pair for extended reading that were tailored specifically to my eyes. I'm prone to migraines and about 80% of the time the headaches are triggered optically - so I'm a little leery of non-prescription eye glasses.

  23. Agh... multifocal contacts, huh? *makes note to ask optometrist, next visit*

    I've been nearsighted almost all my life. Due to other aging, er, problems, I've been wearing glasses for the last year or so -- instead of the contacts I love. I've been tearing the glasses off my face to read and for fine needlework, it's just been getting worse and worse. I was resigned to bifocals until I read WendyB_09's comments. :)

    Who knows, maybe my iDoc can help with the burning/watering eyes, too.

    I'll be 48 in December, yo. I keep vacillating between the urge to age "gracefully" and to fight it, kicking and screaming, every step of the way. :)

  24. I suppose I could get all smug about being that much older then you and having also finally fallen victim to presbyopia. But I won't because it still sucks. Maybe I should have tried for longer arms first...

  25. Alesia, my eye doc suggested them when they first came out, probably about 4 years ago. I had mentioned I was getting annoyed with the readers I was using. B&L tweaked the tech on them since and the 2nd generation ones I've got now are wonderful.

  26. Wah wah, I'm older then you and have warn glasses for some 35 years. The bitch I have now is that I have to take them off to read, that or look over the top of em.

  27. Man next it's the walker and a truss. This guy is falling apart.

  28. I'm still in better shape than you Beastly.



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