Thursday, 8 August 2013

Open Your Eyes, Part 3

In previous episodes I’ve discussed the emotional process to do with accepting the need for prescription glasses yet again. I also discussed in detail the process of getting these glasses. This time I around I'll take you in for the main event: what is it like to wear prescription glasses for reading? An important question given it applies virtually all members of the homo sapiens species once their eyes are old enough.
Personally, I find this question even more interesting than usual because I used to be short sighted. For years I would get up to the tune of sticking my eyeglasses atop my nose, leaving them there till bedtime with short breaks in between for watery activities. In many respects it was annoying, most memorably at the beach or under very sunny conditions. Most of the time, though, the glasses were a “fire and forget” type weapon: once on, I would forget they’re there.
Alas, that is not the case anymore. It is all to do with the way reading glasses work. At the moment, I am still perfectly able to read without the glasses, but I do get headaches after prolonged gazing at screens. Putting the reading glasses on acts very much like switching the lights on: that screen in front of me becomes much clearer (and feels slightly larger, too). Alas, the effect only reaches to about an arm’s length away; past this mysterious threshold, the glasses conspire to turn the world awfully blurry.
The implications are clear; the problem is living with them. When I’m looking at the screen, as I am doing now, everything’s fine. But what about occasionally letting my eyes gaze away from the screen, if only to relax a bit? No can do, at least not with the glasses on. Reading on the train but also wanting to know which station we’re at? No can do unless I take my glasses off. Playing cards with my son across a table (Magic: the Gathering, in case you ask)? Lucky for me I am still able to do well without the glasses, because otherwise I would have had to put them on and take them off some ten times a minute.
In short, reading glasses are helpful, but they are also a pain to use. A totally different game to short sighted ones. A game with unique aspects, such as the ease with which glasses may be lost; the need to carry another “gadget” in my pocket/bag along with me all the time. Or, alternatively, facing the consequences when I forget to bring my glasses along.
There are ways around this, but they all come at a price. I could get a small frame that would allow me to stare at the rest of the world from on top, but that would make me feel like my grandmother. Not to mention my face suits larger frames (a supermodel I am not), or the reduced suitability such a frame would have when working next to a computer monitor.
I could also put my glasses further down my nose, to allow me to look up at the world from time to time. My nose is certainly big enough to cope, but again – this is not something I would like to do often. It’s uncomfortable, plus the lenses aren’t optimized for such use. It could be the most practical answer to [short] card games, though.
There is also the option of going bifocal, an experience I will surely find myself experiencing with time, but just stick clear glass at the top of the frame. Ergonomically that would be best, but financially it would be the worst -  bifocals are expensive! Ultimately, I have this inherent problem with reading solely by staring down. I do too much reading to comfortably agree to such a sentence.

One last thing before I let you be: glare.
As mentioned, I went with anti glare coating on my glasses under the assumption this would help me as I gaze at screens for two digit hours a day. Was I right in my assumption?
I cannot provide a conclusive right/wrong answer to this question. What I will say, though, is that when I put my glasses and a colleague’s next to my computer monitor we could clearly see the screen’s reflection of his. I could almost read the screen off that reflection! However, mine gave off a pale pink reflection instead (you can see some of that reflection in the above photo). Therefore I can conclude the magnitude of reflections is subdued but color fidelity suffers.
Further evidence to color fidelity issues arrives when I gaze at a white screen for a long time (a common affair when blogging or simply using a word processor like application). After a while I get to feel like the world around me is yellowish/brownish than usual, and the lighting that previously seemed bluish feels redish. Looking elsewhere or simply blinking for a bit brings things back to normal, but clearly my brain is performing some adjustment exercises to correct for the glasses’ coating.

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