Friday, March 5 2010
I've been aware of diminished seeing ability since the summer of 2007. One dull evening at a vegan bed and breakfast in the north of Scotland, I'd happened to notice that I was unable to resolve the writing on the side of a board game in the gloomy light. Then, by tugging at the corner of my eye, the blurring scene had snapped into focus, the first indication that my unassisted vision was something other than perfect. Subsequently I'd guessed my prescription and bought a pair of mild corrective lenses for near-sightedness and had even worn them for awhile. But I'd gradually fallen out of the habit. My eyesight just wasn't bad enough for me to feel the need to correct it.
But for two years now we've had good insurance, the kind that covers visits to an optometrist, Gretchen had scheduled us both appointments for this afternoon (though, being three years younger than me, she's still very early in the late-30s optical "change of life").
When I arrived, Gretchen's appointment was just reaching its end. The optometrist had detected a very minor whiff of far-sightedness in Gretchen's vision and had come up with a prescription for her, though it was for such a trivial correction of her vision it seems unlikely she'll actually remember to wear them. Still, the glasses were mostly covered by insurance, so she was trying out various frames. She asked what I thought and I went for the one that made her look most like a sexy librarian. As a multispectrum fetishist, I'm generally a supporter of eyeglass wearing among women. (Though for some reason I've only had sex with a woman in glasses once, and that time I had to specifically ask for the glasses to be on.)
As expected, the optometrist detected a mild inability of my eyes to focus at all distances, though he attributed this to an astigmatism (which means that focusing without some sort of optical correction is impossible). So then, as eyedrops gradually diluted my pupils, I tried on various frames and had Gretchen help me select the pair that seemed most in keeping with who I am. The woman at the front tried half-heartedly to get me to buy an additional pair of prescription glasses in auto-tint to protect against ultraviolet light, but that seemed like a needless expense. The woman would have probably dropped it at that but then Gretchen started putting pressure on me to get them, so I ended up having to come across as a stubborn prick to get just the one pair of simple prescription glasses. Then Gretchen ran off to make some other appointment, leaving me alone with the optician woman, who proceeded to tell me why it is she tries to get customers to err on the side of extra ultraviolet protection. She'd just been diagnosed with stage three cancer. That's a lot to drop on a stranger. "Jeez, I'm sorry!" I said.
Given the pupil-diluting eye droplets applied to my eyes, I was surprised how easy it was to drive despite my inability to resolve details in my visual field. I drove out to Home Depot for the first time in two months, returning an extra piece of stovepipe leftover from the woodstove installation. While I was there I was trying to find some glue to repair a stretch of stove gasket I'd accidentally ripped out (it had been mired in melted plastic — a trace of which exists in our fuel stream — that had cooled). But my eyes were still so messed-up that all I could read was the large-font lettering on the various glues for sale. So I ended up buying a variety. One claimed to be suitable for "extreme conditions," which seemed promising.
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