I Can See The Light

lightWay too much of it, actually. I have just made the Year’s Most Dangerous Drive, to wit, the three miles straight down a suburban two lane road from my opthalmologist’s after having gotten the annual hit of belladonna for the ocular inspection.

The bit of corneal dystrophy I have got inclines me to slight dazzle anyway; I’ve become an aficionado of wraparound sunglasses since it became symptomatic. Throw some pupil-dilating drops in, and every reflective surface or unshaded window acquires an almost palpable fulgurous aura. This is light that doesn’t just reach your eyes — it reaches into them and feels like it’s forking out whole helpings of vitreous humor.

But my refraction is neither worse nor better, meaning I am in the same fix I have been in since I was about four years old, if not younger: to wit, without glasses I need to hold things up to my nose and I can’t recognize you at a conversational distance. Since I got to bifocal age my “reading prescription” has amounted to correction at the statutory limit for nearsighted legal blindness. Opticians get wrapped around the axle trying to sort it out.

I get a huge laugh out of this, actually. My contemporaries in their multitudes are whining or uttering humorous self-deprecations, according to temperament, about how “it’s hell getting older” and “all of a sudden you can’t see anything.” Snort! Snicker! Age doesn’t make glassesany damn difference to me, bucko, I’m the kid who couldn’t see the fucking blackboard in first grade. Does anyone remember back to the days when a thick eyeglass lens was, well, thick, a half inch of lead crystal whose matte-finished edges protruded fore and aft from any frame ever made?  And slid down your nose slowly and statelily, especially in hot weather, so that you acquired a permanent tic from shoving the glasses back into place? Do we remember when the plastic frames were brittle and the metal frames bent and when some asshole hit you in the back of the head with a dodgeball or volleyball — which is the kind of thing kids all love to do — they flew off and you had to crawl around on your hands and knees to find them? (It’s a good thing that I started out with a native attraction for physical exertion; I could either climb trees to get away from the little bastards that were my contemporaries, or beat the daylights out of them, and I tried both, turn about.)

Nowadays they have featherlight durable frames and polycarbonate lenses that bend light with half the thickness required of glass, and sometimes I can actually forget that I’m blind as a senile raccoon on a three-day bender.

Hell getting older, my size-nine foot. This deal is improving all the time.

10 thoughts on “I Can See The Light

  1. I can’t remember when I first noticed I was nearsighted but I got my first glasses when I was about 25. And the prescription hasn’t changed since then. Though lately my arms seem to be getting shorter, if you know what I mean.

    When my friend Steve first visited here six years ago the first thing I told him was that his glasses had to go (this was pre-Sara otherwise I’m sure she would have taken care of this). His lenses were like coke bottle bottoms and, as you described, stuck out fore and aft his huge gold wireframes. Gawd knows how long he’d had them. A few hours (and a few hundred euros) later he was sporting very tasteful midnight blue rectangular wireframes with ultra-lite lenses … a new man.

    Technology, eh? Gotta love it.

  2. I grew up with perfect vision and it wasn’t until the aging thing hit that I had to have glasses to read. Now it’s getting to the point where I just need glasses to see unless I’m reading a sign that is half mile away, then I can see it just fine.

    The problem for people like me is that we have not gone through the habit training in re keeping track of glasses, and also since we can see to get around without them it isn’t until we are trying to read the ingredients on a product in the store or trying to use a cell phone that we realize that WE NEED OUR DAMNED GLASSES and we have no idea where they are at the time we need them because the last time we needed them we were signing the credit card slip at the gas station. And since we are now older and our short term memories are getting shorter to the point of non-existence, we CAN’T REMEMBER where the damned things are. It is very frustrating, and probably a proper topic for the Crabby Old Fart to address.

    We are the people who are saying that “aging sucks” thing.

    • And that above thing about trying to use a phone and needing glasses is one of the things that I REALLY hate about cell phones. I mean, why do I need or want an item that requires me to find my glasses and put them on in order to figure out where the part is that makes it possible for me to talk. I really like my antediluvian princess phone with a cord and nice big buttons that I can actually read. When I pick it up off it’s rest, there is a dial tone and I’m ready to make a call. If it is ringing, I pick it up and BINGO! I’m answering the phone and I am not having to press “Talk” or “On” or whatever version of the magic button the instrument has. And those damned buttons are never in the same place from phone to phone, either.

      Am I ranting yet?

      • Fair rant. The thing is, with the corneal dystrophy, I have to TAKE OFF my glasses to dial the damn cell phone because anything small enough won’t come into focus no matter what; I just have to hold things to my nose.

        I am predicting that as the silicon generation ages a bit some of these things will change, and technical devices will have much more readable controls.

        ‘Course, if you can find some way to effect a sort of transcendental retroactive exchange so that I’m the one who has to adjust my memory to the issue of glasses, and someone in your situation (select a deserving party) gets to live with the memories of sitting in ophthalmologists’ and opticians’ offices and having his/her glasses knocked off and listening to parents bitch about how much they cost and, oh, that time they felt the need to say that at this rate I would be blind by the time I was thirteen… I might try out that swap. Maybe the grass always looks greener, I don’t know.

  3. I really thought I was the only person who ever said “statelily.”

    And yes, I do remember the days when if you were nearsighted enough to be basically legally blind, you had glasses so thick that they left dents.

    The asshole eye doctor told my mother I shouldn’t have contacts because I was a boy and couldn’t be trusted to handle them properly. Finally in high school, I insisted, because the weight of the glasses on my face exacerbated the already-chronic sinus pain I’d unsuccessfully had surgery to correct. And gloriosky, despite being a boy, I had no trouble handling the contact lenses. Fucking sexism … it exists in the strangest places.

    • I love “statelily.” The first time I ran across it was in Burt Cole’s The Funco File, a delightful piece of gonzo science-fiction that came out in the late 60s, in which a succession of paranormal manifestations includes “an actual bird’s nest sailing statelily by.” You could fairly feel the gravitas with which that bird’s nest rode the air. I have used it ever since.

      Boys were too careless to have contacts and little ladies weren’t supposed to roughhouse and break their glasses. Don’t you just want to go back in time and make a whole lot of people drop and give ya sixty?

  4. My first glasses came at 40. I only barely passed a driver’s license renewal test and the DMV lady told me to go the the eye doctor promptly. What a surprise.

    I have now gotten into bifocals. Actually, I knew I had a problem when I couldn’t get consistent readings with my astrolabe and nocturlabe and it was so frustrating. I went back to the eye doctor and a new phase in 40 something was upon me.

    Fortunately, I arrived at half-blindedness in time to wear the very thin glasses with anti-glare. No need yet for a mini-hubble but I’ve seen a couple of those in action over the years.

    “Now are there any questions?”

    • I must not be getting out enough; you’re making me nostalgic for videos of old Arlington County Board meetings where we used to hear “Ahhh there any questions?” at the end of the most flamboyant testimony. If only You Tube had been around for some of our best tax hearings.

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