Monday, 5 August 2013
Open Your Eyes, Part 1
Our story begins during my early teens. At the time my chief hobby was playing with computers (read: nothing’s changed). I used my then era’s PC, a Dragon 32, for both gaming as well as all sorts of programming. I copied others’ Basic programs, mostly to do with gaming and graphics, to which I added my own. I even programmed some Assembly stuff. I think I can safely say I was pretty good at it, and had I continued along that path I might have even established a name for myself. What had happened to turn me away from advanced programming? Formal education, that’s what happened.
But there another thing that happened in the background. Using TVs capable of 200 lines to do all my messing about with, I started noticing my eyes working harder and harder. By eighth grade my father took me to an optometrist, who determined my prescription was -0.5 (that’s half the short-sightedness it takes before one has to wear glasses/contacts for driving). By the end of that school year my number grew to -0.75. It felt like if I was to stay up to speed at school, I’d need glasses.
I got my glasses, but I was ashamed of them. What would my old friends say? I took them off whenever I was at areas where people who knew me from the “good old days” might roam. I was vain.
Vanity did not last long, though. Before too long my prescription rose to way beyond legal driving limits. Glasses became my routine: putting them on would be the first thing I do in the morning and removing them the last I do before going to sleep.
It took something special to kick vanity back into the picture. A movie called Terminator 2 featured a unique fashion accessory for the time: sunglasses that wrap around the eyes, as opposed to flat ones. Not only were these sunglasses cool to wear, they were also functionally better: you don’t get sunlight through the sides of your glasses when, say, driving. I went out and forked a whole lot of money to buy myself these glasses, Persol model Schwarzenegger.
Alas, I could not wear them. With them on I was too blind to lead a comfortable life. Putting optical lenses on the frame did not work, as the curvature kills the prescription optics. I had to find an alternative solution to allow me to wear these glasses, and that came in the shape of contact lenses. After a series of sessions with the optometrist I got myself a pair, and I have to say: they improved my eyesight much more than eyeglasses (probably the result of the lens being closer to the eye). However, they were also unbearable: I could not stand sticking the lens into my eye with my fingers; all the required hygiene proved more than I could handle; and the worst of it, I could not stand the contacts themselves. They irritated the hell out of me.
Thus after spending stupendous amounts of money on them, most of it my parents’, I politely stashed both sunglasses and contacts in a drawer. Normal order resumed: I was a glasses person, like it or not.
Several years later vanity popped its head again, and again the reason was a new technological breakthrough. Corrective laser eye surgery hit the town! Whereas at first it was a painful process, innovation led to simpler procedures that can be over and done with in an hour. Given positive feedback from two friends, I went ahead despite the stupendous cost. Because nothing would stand between me and my favourite sunglasses that I couldn’t otherwise wear (by now we were talking Oakley).
Yes, the operation worked. But no, as I said on many an occasion, if I had a time machine I would not have done it again. Sure, I was/am thankful for not having to wear corrective eyeglasses anymore. I was even more thankful at being able to wear my sunnies of choice. But it did come with a price: first the literal price, in Shekels, and then at the cost of various minor yet annoying side effects. Things like dryness in the eye led me to conclude one has to think thrice before one puts one’s body on a surgery table. But yeah, I was vain.
And now we hit modern day me. I mentioned here before (and here) how my eyes are beginning to feel the strain that comes with age; as I was told, the lenses become harder with age, making it harder to focus at short range objects. With the vast amounts of time I spend with my eyes focused on some screen or another (work PC, iPhone, iPad, Kindle and other gadgets) it was just a question of time before similar strains to the ones I had as a young teen show up. The optometrist confirmed it a fortnight ago, prescribing me with the minimal reading glasses prescription just so as I reduce the strain of prolonged exposures.
The funny thing is, I had no idea whether he was right or not. Nowadays it's machines that test your eyes, you have no idea what's really going on. I can read without glasses just fine; the problem is the feeling of strain that comes with prolonged reading. Then, while shopping at Kmart, I stumbled upon cheap ready made prescription glasses ($5) and tried them on. Wow! Suddenly the world near me became so much clearer! The screen on my iPhone so bright and clear I thought I got myself the iPhone 6!
And now, as I am typing this, I am wearing my brand new prescription reading glasses.
To be continues in part 2, where I will discuss the process of getting my new glasses.