Saturday, 8 February 2014

Expert advice of the visual sort

I've known for years that the best way to get good advice is to ask someone who is knowledgeable and passionate the right question. It's worked to buy good hiking poles, boots and socks, backpacks, sleeping bags as well as my lovely faithful sewing machine. I've just discovered that the same thing holds true for glasses/contact lenses.

Full disclosure here. I have worn glasses since I was two (my mother said I should have had them years before but my father wouldn't believe I wasn't perfect) and spent a number of years going weekly for therapy (exercises for the eyes) as well as wearing patches over the good eye. Along the way, I've asked a lot of questions about the equipment that was helping me see and function.

  • At 16, I asked for contact lenses and my opthomologist who had been there since I was two, gave the answer "You can try them, but I'm not sure if they will work for you". He was wrong and I wore hard lenses almost exclusively for twenty years.
  • In 1992, I asked why my contacts weren't as comfortable as they had been and was told that gas permeable lenses would work better and the new way of fitting them would help, too. I was also told that I could expect that bifocals would be the way to go in a few years (actually, I was a year later).
  • Over the next few years, bifocals then progressive lenses came into my life and all was well until I got to 50. "Well, you could wear reading glasses with your contact lenses if you can't read the fine print" was one answer. The other question I asked was whether surgery would be the route to go, to which I got the answer "You are old and you are stupid to think that bifocals will work for you, you need to have many pairs of glasses" - Needless to say, I will never go back to that man.
I had a lovely experience this week. I went in for a checkup and to replace my glasses which have literally worn out over the last four years. I specifically asked for the older very experienced optometrist and told him my problems.
  • my glasses have worn out, they've never fit very well and I know that the problem is I didn't think I would be wearing them full time when I chose them.
  • I've stopped wearing contact lenses because they aren't comfortable because my eyes are so dry and because I couldn't see closeup details and couldn't see distances well.
  • I REALLY like the prescription sunglasses I have that someone helped me choose last year.
  • I'm going travelling for a year and going to be doing some exciting things and I need to be able to see well.
Here's the thoughtful and helpful answers I got:
  • Your eyes are in great shape and very healthy. The best way to keep them healthy is to keep active.
  • I will make sure that one of our experienced technicians helps you pick out glasses frames that fit and are sturdy and that are shaped to give the best vision.
  • Have you thought about daily wear contact lenses for those activities (like whitewater rafting or snorkelling or swimming or even hiking on uneven ground) where you want to be able to see, but not necessarily close up details, and not risk your very pricey glasses. You could add a pair of inexpensive readers so you could read a map, or see the settings on your phone or camera. You could even add an inexpensive pair of sunglasses. You should find that the soft contact lenses are more comfortable even if they can't give you everything you need, and they don't need solutions because you dispose of them every day. NOW THAT MADE SENSE.
Two and a half hours later, I've picked a very stylish sturdy frame that has the state of the art progressive lenses custom/computer built with sun and night vision clip-ons. For most of the time, they will do everything I need them to do. I've also been given a quick lesson on putting in and taking out daily wear contacts and chosen a pair of readers. They're comfortable, I can see great at the middle to long distance, and with a pair of reading glasses, I can see to sew, read, work on computer. And if I fall out of a boat, I will loose a small bit of mostly water that costs about a dollar.

From time to time, I meet with people who carry a small to medium backpack full of medications, or equipment necessary for managing their health. I used to smile and shake my head at the absurdity of being so dependent, but I have become one of those people - stay tuned for a picture of my new glasses and all the other items that will keep me going.

I believe I will be carrying fewer changes of clothing!

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