I am going blind.
Not quite, but sometimes it feels like it.
Like when I’ve been reading and writing all day and, by dusk, the words start blurring on the page in an inky soup and I have to hold the book or laptop back till my arms are fully outstretched before me and the writing is a ways from my eyes, as if I’m appraising a rare gem or sacred artifact.
I feel like Old Man Grumpus, wondering in a grizzled, quavering voice: What’s this say here, Ma? I can’t see the gobbledygook dancing before my eyes. What does “yipdoodle jippy jo” mean?
It’s a tragedy. I’m used to having 20/15 vision. (That, incidentally, is very good, beating 20/20.) I don’t know what I have now, but I still don’t require everyday prescription glasses. I can read signs from miles away. Yet my up-close reading vision is slowly slipping, degrading, clouding up — and costing me money.
I acquired my first piteous little reading glasses (+1.25 power lenses) at a drug store in 2008. They were cheap and hideous gold-wire doohickies and within months they fit lopsided on my face. I looked like Jerry Lewis after a pratfall. I still wore them, rocking the homeless look.
Then my reading vision got fuzzier, mossy, and I graduated (er, devolved) to +1.50 power lenses a few years ago. These specs still work fine, until, that is, my eyes, after hours of reading, strain and blur. I like the glasses, stylish black and white, made by a respected readers brand, with a commensurate price. But it’s time to move on and up. My eyeballs are working too hard just to type this.
So I have ordered, with a fleck of rue and despair, +1.75 power reading glasses. Lens power goes as high as +7, so I remain pretty low on the spectrum. The transaction isn’t without some distress, knowing that the precious orbs are steadily deteriorating. The only consolation is that these new specs flaunt a sleek stylishness and subtle audacity. They are a glossy blue and black — living on the edge.
Friends and family either cluck or cackle whenever I’m without my glasses and I need to read something, from a menu to a price tag. I’ve actually flagged down employees in grocery stores to read food labels for me because I am absolutely adrift in an optic fog. Some people joke that I should get a granny chain for my glasses to dangle around my neck. That’s not a funny joke because it might be a reality rather soon. Amid all the mirth and mockery, all I can think is: old man!
But this old man is about to be the proud owner of some hot specs (blue!), a minor if critical development in the history of my readers that you might just call … visionary.