On the creeping of the years and vision

Last week, I was forced to face the fact that I’m definitely, solidly, undeniably now middle-aged.

Oh, I could delude myself before and say that I’m “mature” and even pretend to some extent that the slow deterioration that time causes biological organisms doesn’t apply to me. I could even dismiss the increasing creakiness in my knees and the ache in my lower back that I seem to notice more and more upon rising in the morning as “nothing,” because they only cause me minor annoyance. Indeed, I could pretend that the little niggling bits of evidence that my body is aging, just like that of everyone else who’s ever lived, weren’t significant.

Until last month.

A few weeks ago, noticing that I was having more and more trouble reading, particularly small type, I finally broke down and scheduled an appointment with the eye doctor. The eye exam only confirmed what I feared.


Yes, I needed bifocals.

Thanks to my being blessed with the means to afford them, I decided to get the latest, greatest pair of progressive lenses. Because I’m unfortunately very near-sighted and have a strong prescription (don’t ask what it is!), glasses for me have been quite expensive for a long time, mainly because I’ve had to get high index lenses if I wanted lenses that didn’t make me look like Waldo in the Van Halen video Hot for Teacher. Add progressive lenses to that, and you’re talking mucho dinero, more than I had even guessed beforehand.

Last Tuesday I picked up the pair of glasses that was the result, and I have to say, the glasses are probably worth every penny. I can read again, even fine print, without having to take my glasses off and, due to my extreme nearsightedness, holding the text a mere three inches or so from my eyes. It’s truly a beautiful thing. Even better, contrary to the warnings of several people who told me that progressive lenses are hard to get used to, I’m pretty much used to them now. I’m not falling off curbs or getting headaches or forgetting that looking through the lower part of the lens can cause distortion if I’m looking at an object more than arm’s length away. When reading, all I have to do is to adjust the position of the text until I find the part of the lens that allows it to come into perfect focus. The only problem I’ve noticed has nothing to do with the progressive lenses. It’s the same problem that I always get when I get a new pair of glasses, namely that it feels too tight and seems to dig into my mastoid processes until I’ve broken the frame in. Given that my difficulties reading crept up on me over the course of a couple of years, having them corrected instantly was a revelation.

I can read again–without difficulty, that is. I even wore them while doing surgery the other day, and it definitely made a difference.

So, to all of my fellow forty-somethings who are now noticing that you’re holding the newspaper at arm’s length in order to read it or that you’re having trouble reading small text at all, don’t be like me. Accept the fact that you’re turning into an old fart, as I did, and get a pair of reading glasses, bifocals, or progressive lenses. Embrace your impending decrepitude!

I did–just in time for the new Harry Potter book to come out next week.