February 24, 2012

Suddenly I see

So the frames were all picked out, and it was time for the better picture.

When I first put the glasses on, Kristy had me close my eyes while she made the final adjustments to how the frames sat on my face. After a couple of bends and tweaks, I was ready to open my eyes. Before I did, Kristy said, "Now, don't expect miracles."

I opened my eyes and took the glasses on and off as I compared the corrected vision to what I had been looking at all these years. I was handed a card to check out the reading portion of the lenses, and no surprise, it was much clearer with the glasses on.

Then I tested the distance portion. I didn't feel like my long range vision was all that bad before. I could look to a hilltop in the distance and see the branches and leaves on a tree. But the testing revealed that I needed help. I looked across the large room to a display on the other side, alternately looking through and over the lenses. It was clearer with the glasses on, but the difference was more subtle. I had to pay attention to notice the difference.

As I looked around the room, things went swimmy. The room bent like I was a drunk in a house of mirrors. Actually, looking at the mirror offered the best way to describe the sensation. They have an enormous mirror leaned up against a wall for clients to look at, to take in their whole body and not just the frames on their face. As I moved my head from side to side, the rectangular mirror frame warped sideways to become a parallelogram. The more I moved my head, the more it bent. Some adjustment necessary indeed.

One of the tips I was given is to point my nose where I want to look. You can't just move your eyes, as the right part of the lens needs to be facing what you want to see. Moving my head side to side was what was causing the swimming sensation, but I was told that it would get better as time passed and my eyes and brain got used to the new way of working.

I purposely did not write this for a couple of weeks because I wanted to give it that time. Part of the problem is that I haven't been wearing them often enough during the day. As I said, other than reading, I don't notice a big enough problem to think to put them on, and at work I trade them for safety glasses. And although they have the cool transition technology that darkens the lens when they are exposed to sunlight, they do not get as dark as typical sunglasses (this is where complaining about how sunny it is will be met with mockery).

It has been better, and when I wear them for more than an hour at a time, the issues become less noticeable. That said, here are the issues. These things are listed on "things to expect" on several websites, so I am sure these have nothing to do with the particular lenses I have. They are simply a limitation to glasses, and progressives specifically.
  • The field of view is smaller and more precise than I expected. It has taken me some time to get used to where I need to look through the lens to make things the clearest. Progressives are normally worn as people age and develop Presyopia, or the difficulty in focusing in on near objects. The reading portion of the lens is sort of an addition to a wearer's normal prescription. As I have never had a prescription before, the divvying up of the lens sections isn't what I anticipated. 
  • The peripheral vision is not as good as expected. This goes back to needing to point my nose at what I am looking at, but it was surprising to me (as a glasses wearing novice) that the peripheral vision would be distorted, rather than just not-as-good. Again, this is a property and limitation of the lens, not an issue with my own pair.
  • Walking through a grocery store and trying to look at all the items on the shelves is where the swimming sensation is most prominent. All those square edges distorting is still unsettling. To avoid the bending world sensation, I think I have developed the unconscious habit of blinking as I turn my head, but that isn't exactly practical when you are scanning a large area. It is getting better, but I think this will be the last thing to fade into the background. 
Of course on the whole, things are much better:
  • The distance vision is improved, though again not as dramatically as the up-close reading portion. The leaves on the trees are different. I would describe it as seeing the colors a little more brightly as opposed to the edges being more clearly defined, but now things pop a little more.  
  •  My eyes are not strained and fatigued at the end of the day. This is one of the biggest things I was hoping for, and it is definitely better. Night vision is also improved, so driving at night is not the strain that it used to be.
  • I am reading much more these days. In the past year, I have been crawling through books. In the last few weeks, I have torn through a couple of books in a few day's time. I am sure that fatigued eyes were a big reason for the slowdown, and it is nice to be back on pace.
  • The frames are lightweight and comfortable. When I stop obsessing over which area to look through, and just focus on what I am looking at, they sort of fade into the background. 
So, things are definitely better. There is more adjustment to be made, but I have a feeling that many of the issues will continue to fade into the background as I wear my glasses more often. As this is my first pair of glasses, I really had no idea what it would be like, and I probably was expecting miracles.

I just need to remember to put them on.

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