Setting my sights on new specs

At long last I need prescription eyeglasses. I figured it, the doctor confirmed it. I am the most olden and wizened man on Earth. 

And yet I am not devastated. I am hardly ruffled, didn’t even blink. I’ve been wearing reading specs for some time now, used namely for books, food labels and computer stuff, and without which I couldn’t type these words and how that would break your heart. 

I can see people, cars, trees, raccoons and the general environment with spectacular clarity. No one appears fuzzy like a gelatinous apparition or a melting snowman. In fact, I’d reckon my vision is at least 80 percent normal and healthy. 

Yet, as I have just learned, I am clinically far-sighted: objects at a distance are clear but those up close, like book pages, laptop screens and microwave buttons, are distressing smudges. They look like amoebas, or roadkill.

So this week I elected to get a fancy, full-blown eye exam, my first in about 15 years (and my second ever). I pictured, blurrily, a speedy, comfortable procedure featuring paper eye charts and other quaint peepers paraphernalia. 

Instead, for almost an hour, I was subjected to a harrowing battery of high-tech tests featuring Kubrickian contraptions, yellow-dye eyedrops, blinding photos of my wide-open eyeballs, all while being ushered in and out of apparatus-cluttered rooms by two assistants and a doctor who maintained a scary, chirpy detachment. The lab coat, an unsettling touch.

Eventually, I was done. I blinked about 585 times, wiped the gooey yellow dye from my lashes, examined, with the trio, disconcerting snapshots of my bulging, bloodshot orbs, and listened to the dilated diagnosis. I am going blind. 

No, but a prescription was prescribed: progressives. These are glasses, or specifically lenses, or, as I snatched off the web: “a type of prescription eyeglasses that let you see your whole field of vision without switching between multiple pairs of glasses.” That’s a bit reductive, but it makes the point.

The upshot: I need real glasses.

At least I sort of know what having glasses is like, what with my onerous readers and all. Those I have to fetch and fumble for, be it at home or in the tahini aisle at Whole Foods, or at the ATM, etc. (and that’s a very long etcetera). 

The new glasses I ordered will be glued to my face with utmost convenience and questionable aesthetics. I wanted dark blue, even cobalt, frames, and I selected a blue-blackish pair from the sterile racks and rows of spiffy eyewear. The frames run pricey, the lenses even more. Discounts are involved, so the damage isn’t blinding. Still, the money might be spent more festively on my approaching voyage to Portugal, on, say, museums, or octopus platters. 

Color me excited. Blurs be gone. The whole world crystalline. Granny glasses, the cursed readers, in the dustbin. I foresee all of this, and I haven’t even tried on the new glasses. I envision a brighter future. I call this far-sightedness.

Scoping out the right reading specs

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.

hemingway-4617-black-blue__87137-1510853853.jpgFriends 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.