I’m sitting in a restaurant with friends and my phone buzzes. I don’t want to be rude and interrupt my friends by blabbing away on my cell phone (even though that’s what most people do these days) so I surreptitiously glance at my phone to see if it’s a call that can wait. Trouble is, I can’t really see it without my reading glasses. I just start to make out a four and a two and am trying to figure out whose number that might be, and poof, it’s no longer displayed. I could have stopped to get my glasses out, but then I couldn’t be sneaky about looking at my phone discretely, after the big show of fishing them out of my purse and putting them on.
Reading glasses – they’re a blessing and a curse. The best and worst of times and all that. When you need them, and have them available, they’re great. You can see what you need to see, and put them away, and not be stuck with wearing glasses all the time. But when you have to fish them out in a hurry, or tell people you can’t see that paper they’re waving in front of your face until you get your glasses out, they’re a nuisance.
The alternative – get reading glasses that are plain on top, and reading on the bottom, and wear them all the time? Yuck. Or, get longer arms, so I can hold things farther away and then I could read them? Even if I wanted to change my arms into knuckle-scrapers, I can’t really make that happen. Or, have a personal assistant with you at all times to read things for you? No, that would be pretentious, and expensive. “One moment, please hand that menu to my personal reading assistant.”
For those who are under forty, let me enlighten you on reading glasses. Inside our eyes is a lens that makes tiny movements to allow what we’re seeing to focus correctly on the back of our eye so we can, well, see it. In this way we can look at something far away, then look down at something close and be able to see both equally well. As we age, this lens becomes less flexible and less able to make these tiny adjustments, so that eventually it becomes difficult, and finally impossible for the lens to adjust to see tiny things up close. This begins somewhere around the ages of 35-45. People in their late 30′s usually start to notice it if they’re watching TV, then look down to read or sew during the commercials (yes, not everyone has TiVo.) There’s a momentary blur in changing from the distance vision (TV) to the up close (reading or sewing). At first our eyes are able to compensate, but eventually most people get to the point, usually somewhere between age 40-45, where they can no longer make that adjustment and need reading glasses.
So that’s why you see people age 40 and up doing stupid things in order to see – holding menus way out in
front of them, wearing glasses on chains around their neck, or borrowing glasses from someone else (which works great by the way – my husband’s bifocals will do in a pinch, and hey, he can get by without them for a few minutes.)
So, I carry reading glasses in my purse and a back-up pair in the car, for when I forget to put them in my purse. At home I leave them on the kitchen counter, which gives rise to a whole new problem - remembering where I left them when I actually need them. And sometimes I pick up my husband’s glasses, also on the counter, by mistake, or worse he picks up mine which couldn’t possibly fit him, and hilarity ensues. Our kids think it’s great fun to make fun of us about always losing track of our glasses, but what they don’t know is that their day is coming. Presbyopia (the need for reading glasses) cannot be corrected by vision surgery. It’s only corrected by glasses. I’m thinking of buying my kids those chains that people use to hang their glasses around their neck…
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