Progressive Lenses

I rarely run without my glasses, but when I do, you can bet your lunch money I’ll give at least one friendly wave, “good morning”, or “howdy” to a street sign or a mailbox along the route. I’ve also been known to unintentionally ignore humans working out or walking dogs, who in my blur appear to be street signs or mailboxes. I’m certain I’ve offended friends and colleagues on occasion and perhaps missed life-altering opportunities as I didn’t stop to chat as I passed someone by with no more than a hello, me either not recognizing we’re acquainted or thinking the invaluable soul to be an inanimate object.

Yesterday, I misplaced my wire-frame, semi-retired, around-the-house-and-workout beaters.  I had hastily removed them in order to read aloud from my iPhone while I chased Misty and Sam around the house as they prepared for work and school, respectively. They just want quiet mornings while I have a pressing need to share some early news of the day upon which I can then pontificate. When the time came to return glasses to face, I had forgotten where I’d put them. I looked (and felt) around the usual resting spots to no avail. Retraced my steps and thoughts. No luck. I put on another pair of glasses. Yes, I put on one set of specs in order to find another. Finally, Misty received the lost and found reward.

Since the week before my seventh birthday and second grade, eyeglasses  have been an integral body part from the moment I step out of bed in the morning, and they don’t rest until I am tucked in at night. There are, of course, the few exceptions that include the daily washing (though I wear’em when shaving), swimming (which provides a history of comic and scary anecdotes), and running in the extreme temps of a standard Texas Hill Country summer boil or a typical Maine sting-and-tingle winter day. The former often causes the salty sweat to create an abrasive friction on the bridge of the nose, even to blood at times. The latter can result in fogging blindness caused by the barometric effects of warm breath meeting cold and wet.  I’m either too ambitious to get outside in the dark cold or simply too lazy to apply skiers’ anti-fog wax that never seems to work well for me. (It can’t be that it only works if you’re skiing, can it?)

I even wore my black geek Clark Kent specs in Little League when I played catcher. The comic reality of foul pop-ups leading to the mask flung in one direction, the glasses in another and the ball ending up in a third location kept my catching career brief. Why not contacts, you ask? We’ll save that for another time.

About two years ago it became glaringly obvious to others  and cloudily real to me that I could no longer depend solely on my nearsighted prescription for reading, especially in dimly lit environments. Playing distance and angle games with menus that were printed in seven-point font and presented in conspiratorially dim-lit restaurants became wearisome. And dagnabit, I was not going to ask Misty to read to me! I guess I could’ve just taken up the habit of ordering a daily special from the waiters’ verbal menus. Instead, I twitched and jerked  my arms and hands and  menu to and fro, overhead, in lap, extended to the next table, sometimes placing waiters and stemware in immanent danger. Optometrists  in Texas, and later in Maine, saw the prescriptive opportunity for bifocals or progressive lenses four or five years ago, presented to me as no pressing matter, but as a decision of which I would personally know when the time was right.

Progressive lenses or bifocals?  Bifocal lenses are a considerably smaller upfront investment than progressive lenses. Also, one’s vision adjusts and adapts much more quickly and easily to looking on one side of a visible line on the lens. Progressive lenses are a riskier choice. They’re costlier and they may not work out. Some struggle begrudgingly through their investment and the cosmetic reward. Others abandon them outright; toss’em in the trash and opt for bifocals or two sets of specs.  Yes, there is usually  a longer adjustment period, requiring more effort as there’s no dichotomizing line. They have instead an apparently ambiguous center point that incrementally graduates on either side. A lens that intuitively and pragmatically seems blurrier actually offers a positive outcome. One who views through that kind of lens may have better vision opportunities if they learn to look through them effectively, as they were intended to be used by their creators–hopefully adjusting in most situations to a crisp, clear, view. The progressives seem to be working pretty well for me, though I’ve yet to come close to maximizing their possibilities.

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