A few years ago I started getting an odd sensation when looking at things close up, as if my eyes were camera lenses slowly focusing. I could almost hear them buzz. Then they became zoom lenses and anything too close remained a blur. Lately too close has been expanding and reading has become a headache, literally. And the zoom lenses are now smeared with the filthy fingerprints of age and so anything beyond a certain point no longer reveals its detail. Driving any distance caused a headache too. Anyway, on I soldiered, valiantly, much to the amusement of my boys who would joyfully remark on the way my head would shoot backwards when they tried to show me something small. And then a week or so ago I realised I’d stopped reading certain favourite poets because of the size of the print and knew I’d have to do something about it.
So, I am now the confused owner of a pair of varifocal spectacles. I chose the varifocal option because it seemed simpler than getting two pairs and having to swop them about all the time. In lectures I have to both look at power-point slides projected onto a screen and write notes. When driving I often have to consult a map or written directions. When out exploring, or shopping or just generally mooching, I look at things both near and far. Plus, my bag already has far too much stuff in it. So I went for multi-function, assuming it would be the path of least annoyance. Wrong!
Admittedly I’ve only had them since Saturday, but they’re driving me doolally. You can’t look sideways in them, you can only look straight ahead: chin up for reading, chin down to look around, which seems counter intuitive. Any deviation and I’m sent into a spin. And the window of clarity doesn’t seem to be as wide as a small paper-back so I’m forced to move either the book or my head to scan the page. It’s so bloody odd. Now when trying to read, or write, I spend most of my time with my eyes closed in exhaustion. And my head hurts all the time.
And that’s not the only thing. I’ve never seen myself as a wearer of spectacles, they don’t go with my hair, and they make nasty huge dents in the side of my nose which hurt. Also, they’re smarter looking and more polished than the rest of me. I feel I ought to go out and buy some dry-clean only separates and a pair of Gucci loafers.
Looking out the window’s good though, I can do that. And I can read all the titles on my bookshelves from my couch. I can also read the packaging on Lidl cakes, which means I know what I’m contaminating my body with. Apparently it does take time to get used to varifocal lenses and after a while you make the small head movements necessary without thinking. But for now I can’t stop taking the damned things off and cleaning them. Should I have gone for contact lenses and a large pair of reading specs?