I’d been dreading my eye examination.
An inordinate amount of my waking hours are spent in front of a computer screen. In the last few months, dry, itchy eyes, painful styes and blurry vision …
Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Making high quality community journalism isn’t free — please consider supporting our journalism by subscribing to the News + Record today.
Unlimited Digital Access: $3.99/month
Print + Digital: $5.99/month
I’d been dreading my eye examination.
An inordinate amount of my waking hours are spent in front of a computer screen. In the last few months, dry, itchy eyes, painful styes and blurry vision have been more commonplace for me, so I’d been worried that the cumulative effects of all that time glued to my laptop’s keyboard were ruining my eyesight.
Not that I see that well anyway.
I’m nearsighted, meaning that I’m a part of that roughly 25% of the population with an eye disorder created by a refractive error which occurs when light entering the eye doesn’t focus correctly onto the retina. It makes objects close to me appear clear, but anything in the distance — and we’re talking about 4 feet or more — blurry.
The medical term for this condition is myopia. Being “myopic” also refers to someone who is lacking in intellectual foresight or discernment. I don’t readily confess to those traits, but I can attest to the fact that if you’re standing 20 feet from me, or more, I won’t be able to discern who you are (or even what you are) on most occasions.
“I waved to you the other day, and you didn’t wave back,” I’ve been told dozens of times.
“Oh, I was probably deep in thought; I can get very focused,” I used to lie.
Now it’s just: “Oh, I probably didn’t have my glasses on and didn’t see you. I’m just about blind without them.”
(Then, of course, there’s, “I honked at you the other day when you passed me in your car. Did you not hear me?”)
The truth is, with nearsightedness, my “up close” vision is perfectly fine. I’m not anywhere near blind, but as an introvert, myopia is a wonderful trick to avoid talking to people. If I can’t see you, it’s easier to ignore you. (I do confess to lacking the foresight for engaging in small talk with people I barely know, a condition which I understand also affects about 25 percent of the population.)
These days, working a good part of my week remotely from home, I can go an entire day without putting on my glasses. Being near-sighted, I wear the glasses primarily to drive, to watch TV or to play golf. And given that I haven’t teed it up on the links going on two years now, that means I wear them even less.
But I always keep them nearby. Just in case.
Years ago, a new co-worker expressed his perplexity about me and my glasses.
“I can’t figure it out,” he said. “You’re continually putting your glasses on and then taking them off again. I can’t decide if you’re nearsighted or farsighted.”
Of course he couldn’t. He was farsighted. The medical term for that is hyperopia, of which I’m pretty sure the word “hyper” is a derivative. Naturally, he was an extrovert with reading glasses. How could he relate?
At any rate, I did go see my eye doctor last month for the aforementioned exam. I’m at that age now (closer to 60 than 50) where more things in my body are breaking down, and I was fearing the worst. At around age 40, in addition to losing the ability to park a car between painted lines, I was told I’d soon need bifocals as my myopia worsened. That experiment didn’t pan out (bifocal contacts were also a failure), so the glasses-on, glasses-off thing has been going on for a while now, especially when I’m in my office.
I described to my optometrist the vision issues I was having; I anticipated a big prescription change.
Turns out there was a good explanation for the blurred sight when wearing my glasses: while the vision in my right eye stayed the same, the vision in my left actually improved. “It’s been known to happen,” my doc said. A new weaker prescription, some eyedrops for the dryness, and I was good to go.
I picked up the new sunglasses on Friday and did a tour of the neighborhood on foot in Saturday’s bright sunshine. I was astounded at what I could see that didn’t seem to be there before, now that my eyes were working in unison again. The new regular glasses arrived on Monday; same result.
A small victory, I know. If it’s a trend for 2021, I’ll take it.