Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Oh, My Freaking Eyes

Yesterday I went to the optometrist.

(Aside:  Kudos to Aetna for covering routine eye exams with no copay.  It makes sense to include vision as part of "wellness" coverage, but Aetna is the first health insurance I've ever had that actually did so. You're that much less evil than the other insurance companies. Good job.)

OK, so yesterday I went to the optometrist.  It was my first eye exam in well over 10 years.  Yeah, how about that?  The optometrist was pretty shocked.  Then she looked at my glasses and realized that either I was telling the truth or somebody out there is still making frames that were fashionable when "Friends" was the hottest show on TV.

The thing is, I only wear my glasses when I'm driving.  I keep them in the car, I put them on when I start the car, I take them off when I stop the car.  So those of you who know me personally, that's the reason you're wondering why you never noticed that I wear glasses.  And that's why I've gone longer than my child's entire lifespan between eye exams.

I have freaky eyes.  Big, blue, freaky eyes.  Having my vision is like having eyeballs from two entirely different people grafted onto your face.  In my case, those two people would be my parents. 

These are my actual eyes. 
I'll let you imagine the rest, but don't get your hopes up.
My left eye takes after my mom, whose eyesight actually inspired this joke:  "'Read the top line of the chart.' 'What chart?'"  You know how 20/20 is considered perfect vision?  My left eye is 20/Holy-shit-you-can't-see.

My right eye, however, must be courtesy of my dad, who didn't even need reading glasses until he was in his 50s.  Why I didn't inherit his eyes on both sides of my face, I have no idea.  I did manage to get his allergies, his baby-fine hair, and his love of surf music.  Genetics is such a mixed bag of curses and blessings.

Anyway, I started wearing glasses when I was 10 and went back and forth between glasses and contacts for 20 years.  When I got pregnant I realized I had more than enough to deal with without sticking my fingers in my eyes twice a day.  At that point I got my stylish late-1990s frames, and that's where I've been ever since.

Except that I haven't actually worn them regularly for years, because I'm stupid vain.  Tina Fey may look stunning in glasses, but I'm not Tina Fey in so many ways I can't even begin to tell you.  But specfically when it comes to looking stunning in glasses.  So I basically told my strong right eye that it was going to have to do the heavy lifting, vision-wise, to make up for its slacker counterpart on the left because I wasn't going to help it out by wearing corrective lenses.  Shit or go blind, as it were.  Yes, it was tough love for eyeballs. 

For the most part I can see fine through my mismatched eyes.  I just can't read street signs and I don't have any depth perception.  How often are those things even necessary, right?  So I keep my glasses in my car for driving, I don't rear-end anyone on the wrong street, and I maintain my personal fantasy that I'm a total babe when I take them off.  Everybody's happy.

Except that lately I've noticed that I'm starting to squint a bit.  And that I tend to move things farther away when I read them.  But my arms hurt from holding my monitor all day, so I decided to go to the optometrist.

After she finished laughing at my out-of-date glasses (this took some time), she informed me that, while my left eye was basically holding steady in terms of batlike-blindness, my stalwart right eye was beginning to go farsighted.  Imagine an auto-focus camera having a nervous breakdown at a 3-D movie, and that's me.  And then she said the two words that strike fear into the heart of any person trying desperately to hang on to some semblance of youth and relevance:  Progressive lenses.

These are NOT bifocals.  They're...different.  The optometrist explained the difference, but I didn't hear her because I was having a very youthful and relevant panic attack.  I gather they're a modern, discreet, and not at all humorous type of corrective lens for exceptionally intelligent people.

By the way, I Googled "old woman in bifocals" so I could insert a funny picture here,
and this is what came up.  This poor sunburst beetle does not have access
to current optometrical innovations and must rely on bifocal eyes.
The upshot of this is that I'm going to have glasses with three zones for short-, middle-, and far-distance seeing.  My left eye will use the top portion of the lens, my right eye will depend on the bottom portion, and I guess they'll meet in the middle for drinks on the weekend.  Oh, the optometrist warned me that there might be a period of adjustment when I start wearing these.  Which sounds like something you would say to an amputee when you replace his prosthetic arm with an oversize Braun hand blender.

Then she said, "You know, you might find you don't even need to wear these all the time." Yes, she looked me straight in the face and basically admitted that my eyes are so f'd-up I may be better off just keeping them closed and striding through life blissfully ignorant of my surroundings. I respect her for that.  And hey, it worked for Mr. Magoo.

I think I passed him coming to work this morning.
Come to think of it, that's a pretty sexy squint he's got there.  If the progressive lenses don't work out, I think I can make that look work for me.

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