I’ve worn glasses for as long as I can remember. I think I got my first pair when I was in first grade, and I’ve worn them ever since.
For years, my eyesight declined gradually, but inexorably. When I was a kid our optometrist gave me a rubbery softball with letters on it; I was supposed to attach it to a string, hang it from the ceiling, and let it sway around as I tried to identify the letters moving past. This was supposed to strengthen my eye muscles, or something. It was incredibly boring to do, so I went outside and played with my friends instead and the ball went into a drawer to gather dust.
When I hit 40, my vision decline seemed to stop. It didn’t get better, but it didn’t get any worse. Every few years my glasses would get too scratched to see through clearly, and I’d go to a storefront optical shop for a check-up and a new pair. My prescription stayed pretty much the same, and the main challenge was picking out a new pair of glasses. As any eyeglasses wearer knows, optical stores are filled with photos of rugged looking guys and high-fashion women wearing dark, dramatic frames that would look ridiculous on most chubby American faces — including mine. After a split-second of indecision, I’d just get a new pair that looked like my old pair.
Once I turned 55 earlier this year, however, my eyesight seemed to hit the wall. With my glasses on, I simply could not focus on the words on a printed page. When your job involves lots of reading, this can be a problem. It got to the point where it was easier to remove my glasses and bring the text embarrassingly close to my face. When I went to the optometrist, he confirmed that my ability to focus on nearby items has deteriorated significantly. He says constant use of a computer terminal may be to blame, but it’s probably just the effect of age. Ugh.
I’ve got my new prescription and new glasses, and I can read again — for now. My most recent pair of glasses now join the pile of old glasses in my desk drawer.
If only I’d used that softball!