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New Glasses

I’m very short-sighted and have worn glasses since I was about seven years old. For many years now, my eyesight has been dreadful, but remarkably stable. I get my eyes tested regularly, and each year I’ve been told that the change in prescription was too small to justify getting a new set of spectacles. So in fact I’ve been wearing the same set of lenses and frames since 2004, and have had no problems with them until very recently.

I did notice, however, last winter that driving at night was becoming more difficult, partly because things were a bit fuzzy, and partly because after 12 years the lenses were so scratched that oncoming headlights were really dazzling me. I went to the opticians and asked for an eye test, because I was convinced that my prescription had changed a fair bit. I was right. But whereas most people my age would start getting more long-sighted, my eyes have defied convention and got even more short-sighted. Enough, this time, to warrant getting a new pair of glasses.

It’s really difficult choosing new spectacle frames when one’s as short-sighted as I am. I simply can’t see my whole face in the mirror with the new (lensless) frames. Last time of course, Christopher was around to help, and he knew what I liked. This time, I made heavy use of the camera on my phone, taking selfies (not something I would normally ever do!) of myself in a selection of new frames, so that I could see what they looked like. Unfortunately, I didn’t like any of the ones in the opticians! I’m very fussy about my glasses – I have to be, given that I wear them all day, every day. And I really don’t like being able  to see heavy frames at the edge of my field of view. I find it very distracting. But fashions have changed since last time I bought a set of glasses, and the fashion at the moment seems to be for narrow, heavy frames.

I made my requirements very clear to the optician, and left it as an exercise for him to obtain a selection of frames that would be more acceptable. It took about four weeks, but to give him credit he did come up with three options, all of which met my criteria. They were probably all horribly unfashionable, but that’s hardly something I’m going to care about. I chose a pair that are very similar in shape to the previous pair, so at least I know that the shape suits my face. Then it was a case of choosing some lenses. Because my prescription is so strong, and the frames I chose are quite large, the overall weight of the completed pair of glasses is a key factor. I need the lenses to be as thin and light as possible. So that means high refractive index, plastic not glass, aspheric in shape, and photochromic so that I don’t need a separate pair of sunglasses.  That’s an awful lot to ask of a lens, and there was a very limited range of options available in the strength I need. However, lens technology has clearly moved on in the last 12 years, as the resulting lenses actually seem lighter than my old pair, despite the prescription being stronger.

I picked the new set of glasses up this afternoon. I had forgotten how horrible it is, getting used to a new pair of lenses. I’m struggling to focus on anything, the floor isn’t where it ought to be, and I’ve got a headache and constant vertigo. It could take a few days to “settle in” to the new lenses, and to see whether overall they’re better for me than the old ones. I’ve been warned not to drive wearing the new glasses until I’m fully habituated to them, as my depth perception is completely out. So I’m going to have to carry the old ones around with me for driving, whilst trying to spend as much time as possible wearing the new ones, to try to re-train my eyes and brain to the new prescription. But I’m hopeful that, when I do get used to them, I might get fewer headaches, as I shouldn’t have to strain my eyes quite so much to try to focus on things. We’ll see. For now, it’s challenging enough drinking a cup of tea without missing the table when I put it down!