Saturday, July 24, 2010

KEEPING A SHARP LOOKOUT

I don't know what could be more important than good vision to a writer, reader, photographer, and rambling outdoorsman who takes great pleasure in those small vignettes nature provides in abundance for anyone willing to observe closely. Not the vision of a dream or trance experience, or vision in the sense of an ability to think and plan for the future. But vision as in sharp, clear eyesight.
For the past few days, I've had anything but good vision, and I can tell you my life has been (and still is!) a wreck.
It all began when I visited an optometrist to be fitted for new contact lenses. I've worn contacts since I was 17 years old—which is to say, decades. My eyes and vision needs are apparently perfect for contacts, with great tear production, ideal lid shape for quick centering, etc. I took to them like a duck to water. I've never experienced any discomfort, and in fact, can't tell you—other than by how well I see—whether they're in or out. I've worn them from waking to sleeping every day, whether it was the usual 17-hour day or a 40-hour stretch. I've swam, snorkled, rodeoed, rode motorcycles, fished, hunted, hiked, boated, camped, and traveled extensively, in every sort of environment and weather conditions imaginable…and never owned a back-up pair of glasses.
Though the lens materials have changed, these were all what's called "single vision" lenses, which means they were corrected to give at least 20-20 distance vision. Rigid plastic or "hard" type lenses; I've never worn the soft disposables.
Sometime in my forties I started having trouble reading fine print in phone books, on legal disclaimers, maps, and restaurant menus—especially in dim light. Naturally, I put off doing anything about this until my curiosity overcame my vanity. Finally, however, I succumbed to the inevitable, saw an eye doc, and was informed that like most other mortals of a certain age, I now needed reading glasses. Bummer.
I ordered a prescription pair of readers (at shocking expense!) from the optometrist, to wear over the contacts. Later on, I bought a second pair of cheapies from the drug store to keep in the glove box…then another inexpensive pair for the basement…and still another for my tackle bag. When Sam's began carrying 3-packs of readers—excellent quality, much better than any I'd found elsewhere, and for under $20—I littered the house, work areas, truck, and a dozen other places with spare pairs. The irony is that these 3-pack readers worked better than my snazzy expensive pair from the eye doc.
In practice, readers-over-contacts turned out to be only a minor inconvenience. For 95 percent of my daily needs, they still weren't necessary. Only for tiny objects or print under low light. I could still read a book by firelight without readers, for example, or tie on a size 16 trout fly to a 2-pound test tippet unless it was close to dusk. For writing, blogging, reading, seeing and taking photos, and most everything else, I never needed readers.
Then I went to the eye doc. I went only because the distance vision in my right eye was not as sharp as that in my left; I knew it was time for a power boost. Besides, the lenses I was wearing were five years old, and while I take very good care of them, I know that with time any lens can develop minute scratches, and at least need a careful polishing. The doctor I saw was insistent that I consider "progressive vision" contacts, which are just a sort of bifocal with the close-up part built into the outer area of the lens. "You can throw away those readers!" he said…again and again and again. "Why saddle yourself with old technology?"
What he didn't say was only about 40–50 percent of those who try them can be successfully fitted. They also cost considerably more—$724 dollars for fitting and lenses, versus $326 for new singe visions. I was perfectly happy to go the readers-over-lenses route, but eventually gave in to the sales pitch and ordered the progressives.
On Wednesday I picked them up. They were simply awful from the get-go. I knew it might take several trials and refittings to get these fancy lenses right—for example adjusted to normal pupil diameter, which, if set wrong, can cause you to see through both the close-up and distance portion of the lens at the same time, which is exactly what I'm doing. I now see three of everything, no matter what distance—and cannot see clearly at close, medium, or distant ranges. I was told this could clear up in time. I doubt it; it has now been four days and the vision is, if anything, worse. The only way I can write is to crank up the Mac's screen to 500 percent, making everything five times larger. I can still barely focus enough to read what I'm writing. Reading a book, watching TV, taking photos, etc. is out. My life is on hold until next Wednesday, when I go back in and have them evaluated and readjusted (of course I'll have to wait for the new lenses to be made and shipped); and I have no doubt they will require at least one more refitting after that.
Or I could just say forget it and order single vision lenses—which means I'll lose about $200. (I'd pay only for the fitting, not the lenses, which get returned.) Not a terribly expensive lesson, I suppose. In the meantime, I don't know how regular or irregular I'll be putting up posts. I may have to resort to the photos I've already taken accompanied by a longish caption.
Now I'm going to stumble out to the deck, stare at out-of-focus birds in out-of-focus trees on the other side of my out-of-focus river…and sulk mightily.
———————

34 comments:

Rusty said...

I know what you mean! Thank goodness for autofocus on todays cameras. It's not perfect, but it sure helps. ATB!

George said...

Sorry to hear about your recent travails, Grizz, but let's face it -- the universe is going to knock us out of our comfort zone from time to time just to insure that we keep on growing and exploring the infinite possibilities of life, not all of which -- I admit -- are appealing. Having studied your blogs for many months, however, I am quite confident that nothing can subdue that spirit of joy, love, and creativity that is always manifest in your writings on nature. Pending the correction of your vision, why don't you just sit on your deck and report what you feel on your face, taste in the wind, and hear in the distance? Temporary alternatives, of course, but sometimes that's all we have for a few days.

Bonnie said...

What a bummer! I'd sulk too. You did not mention whether they make you feel queasy, but I was feeling slightly nauseous just reading your description.

There is so much we take forgranted - such as simply being able to see clearly, read, enjoy music, taste our food, etc. When any of our senses is impaired it is almost like experiencing a death - certainly a tremendous loss.

A shame you've been put through this, but just get your vision right - damn the cost!

In the meantime, let your ladylove lead you gently through your days.

Bonnie said...

As I clicked off I was wishing I had ended "...lead you gently through your daze." Much more fitting for your plight and your post.

giggles said...

Huh....(she grunts) I myself just had that very same visit!!!

I, however, have astigmatism, so simple single vision lenses were never the cure for me....

I tried progressives... I hated them... wore them for a couple of years...hated them the whole time.... After those two years, I went to the optician and said "Old fashioned bi-focals, please."

So when I just went yesterday, I had the debate with the optomatrist (sp?) and his eyeglass fitter guy, bifocals vs progressives...and after much hemming and hawing, and a comment from the eyeglass fitter guy (He has a title? I dunno) "Progressives just aren't for everyone" I said "Well they are just not for me, then." And with that, a new pair of glasses (cuz the old ones broke: they just don't make 'em like they used to!) with bi-focal lenses. I expect to be a happy camper!

(Note also: my cousin is a very well respected pediatric opthomologist at Duke, who happens to need very strong corrective lenses. To this day he wears the old fashioned bifocals!)

(Also note: the cynic in me sees the difference in price and says to herself "Of COURSE they want you to buy progressives!!!!" But it's not always in the clients' best interest!!!!)

I am surprised in your case that they even tried to sell you the progressives. If you've never had major issues, it seems in your case, the simpler solution IS the solution. Shame on them! (And don't try to defend them!!!!)

annie said...

Just found your blog through WEAVER OF GRASS, and am having a lovely time. I do feel for you with Progressives. They drove me nuts for months and months. I had to say to heck with the cost, I want out...Fortunately, I just had cataract surgery, last summer, and went back to bifocals after that. See fine, now, and wish you luck. People like us really need to be able to see, don't we--there is so much beauty out there.
annie

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Rusty…

I could sure use a pair of autofocus eyes about now, in spite of not usually using the autofocus option on my camera. (It has it's place there, though—so don't take that as an anti-autofocus statement.) Good to hear from you, BTW.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

George…

Nahhhhh, I'm not going to get down and depressed and angry over this (not for long, anyway) so you're right there. But the sensory reporting sans-vision and lacking photo support is not something I relish—not for the month or two this deal is likely to take if I give it the full trial course.

Oh, I'm enough of a raconteur (being Irish) that I can sit and tell stories for days—and some pretty good ones, if I do say so myself. But doggone it, I want to experience and write about July becoming August, and spring's hope turing into autumn's certainty, and the taste of sweet corn and homegrown tomatoes, and the way the woods begin to look droopy and dusty in the heat while the prairie blooms and the red cardinal flowers flame along the shady edge of damp meadow.

I don't want to miss seeing that and sharing it. I hope that is not my lot. Life is, indeed, full of infinite possibilities…though, alas, I also always aware we're none of us given endless time.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bonnie…

Not queasy, though a sort of dull, low-level headache.

You know, I've been incapacitated in other ways before, and while I found it boring, bothersome, etc., I always mange to cope by working around it.

A few years ago, during a time when I was trying to decide whether to live or die, and couldn't manage more than a dozen yards afoot without complete exhaustion, I wrote several articles that were essentially either auditory or olfactory reports on places experienced from a certain rock ledge, streambank, graveled shoulder of a country road, or just parked somewhere and seated on the pickup's tailgate. Vision didn't enter into these pieces—but I could, of course, see.

This is worse, somehow, because it's so unnecessary and because I dread my own bullheadedness will keep me here for longer still. Long experience has taught me that I can screw myself up far worse than life and circumstance ever quite manages. As a wise Pogo said, "We have met the enemy—and they is us!

Moreover, I can't pass the time by reading. (I have been listening to books on CD and podcasts.)

So if it's that bad, how am I managing to answer these comments? Sheer stubbornness and sweat! Crank the screen view to where each of these letters is about 4 inches tall, look at each word several times to try and catch spelling errors, and plug along. And I'm not a touch typist.

Re. Myladylove's support, she's doing her best, but I'm a handful.…

(P.S. Yeah, "daze" was the right word—and no problem with second-round tweaking…I do it all the time.)

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Well, then you know first-hand. I also have astigmatism, though mild. Apparently that's not a problem with these contact lenses; it mostly other factors that cause the real issues. I had absolutely no problem with the readers over contacts, either, though some folks I know can't stand it. But it was an non-issue for me.

I just allowed myself to be talked into something. I have no idea why. Generally I'm as resistant to change as the most hardheaded Kentucky mule. If it ain't broke, I ain't fixin' it…old ways that work are better than news ways that don't…costlier, shinier, fancier isn't reason enough to buy…and so on. I own fountain pens, a shaving brush, and a coffee pot that sits on an open grate…and all three see use.

So go figure…

How did such an immovable rock get rolled down the hill? Well, I guess the grass looked a bit greener on the other side of the fence. To which my granddad would have said, "A fool and his money are soon parted."

Do I hear an AMEN!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Annie…

First off, welcome to the riverbank! And as you've arrived by way of Weaver's blog, I know you're the best of sorts, and hope you visit often.

I'm sorry you've had to start out here with what, for me, amounts to a rant. It isn't usually like this. Do check through a few earlier posts to get a better idea of the general tone of the place. We're not out to change the world, simply enjoy its beauty and blessings, and to share with words and photos.

I guess the worst part for me re. the progressive contacts (or bi-focal contacts) is that I did it to myself. And being conservative Irish, that it's going to waste money! I expect in the end I have a set of single-vision contacts made, and go back to using the readers as needed. The only quest is probably how much self-abuse it requires to make me capitulate.

You're right that we need good vision—or at least as good as is possible. Life is short and beauty and wonder should never be overlooked.

Again, thank you commenting, and know you're always welcome.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ-

I know how much you rely upon your keen eye sight in all that you do every day so this is a HUGE limit on your life. :-( Wednesday can't come quick enough, huh? Meanwhile, take this time to listen intently because htat sense will step up, and also smell and taste and touch all will intensify to compensate - focus on each one during this time of less than ample vision.
I am still in the "thick" of my healing - each step is a challenge - praying for each of us to be back to our "norm".

Love you
Gail
peace and hope.....

giggles said...

Amen!
YA know? The glasses fitter guy mentioned that the eye doctor's office IS, after all, a RETAIL business...and it's sure difficult to say "No" to a great sounding IDEA when someone (however softly) is breathing down one's neck... I sat in the dimly lit examining room for several a quiet minute (WITH the eye doctor himself sitting there) trying to decide.... Good luck....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Gail…

Thank you for your lovely and encouraging words. And don't worry, this is just a minor mess I've gotten myself into, and in time will get worked out. Compared to you and the things you're going through, I'm just being a cry baby mad at himself for not sticking with his guns. I knew better, but did it anyway…which is not the first time such can be said about various aspects of my life.

Just take care of yourself. You are both an example and blessing, and I'm glad to have you as my friend.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Yup, that's a big AMEN! right back at you. Health care is nowadays as retail minded as WalMart. I just temporarily forgot.

(You'd have thought that updated version of the Hippocratic oath hanging on the wall—"Do no harm unless it's profitable and unlikely to involve solicitors."—would have reminded me.)

KGMom said...

Of all the indignities of growing older, the one I resent the most is vision.
I can put up with ringing in my ears, with diminished hearing acuity, with aching knuckles and knees--but dammit, I want, no need, no demand to see clearly.
May your vision clear and your troubles begone.

Bernie said...

My dear friend, this has happened to all of us who were not blessed with 20/20 vision. I too wore contacts at an early year until a few years ago.....I spent a fortune trying to wear the progressives, then bi-focals then I had enough. "It's hard to be humble" my friend but so much more comfortable to wear prescription sunglasses outside, readers for fine print inside and a pair of regular glasses when I need them on the coffee table.
I know you are aggravated but I am sure all will work itself out and you will be happy and seeing all the beautiful sights right there on the river....big hugs:-)

giggles said...

LOL! Ain't that the truth........

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

KGMom…

Well, the way I see it (mentally, not visually) there's no point in walking into an optometrist's office seeing pretty well an leave unable to do anything requiring even mediocre vision…and paying a lot for the pleasure. As an uncle used to say, "Tain't right!"

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Bernie…

Humility is not the problem here, honestly; regular contacts plus readers when I need them will work great. What won't work are progressive contacts. (At least I don't think so—not for me and my eyes.)

The other issue is my hating to lose $200…which is almost certainly going to happen. You're talking to a guy who squeezes all the toothpaste out of the tube, and always checks the marked-down vegetable, fruit, and pastry racks at the supermarket. I was brought up to buy the best possible, to appreciate quality and workmanship, but never waste a dollar. I'm more mad at myself than anything. So on reflection, I guess there is a lesson in humility in there somewhere.

Debbie said...

I always dread my trips to the opthamologist. It never fails; when I get new glasses they just are never right and it takes many adjustments so that I wonder why I didn't stick with my old ones.
I had lens replacement surgery years ago at age 40 and actually improved my vision. Since I just need reading help, I'm going to check on some of those readers you talk about from the drug store:)

Jayne said...

UGH, what a dilemma. I do hope you are able to get it all straightened out and soon. I can't imagine not being able to see well for a week. Hang in there!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Debbie…

I guess I'm lucky in that I've never had any real problems with fitting. I saw the doc, had the exam, got my prescription tweaked—and when the new contacts came in, popped them in and was pleased at how much crisper my vision became.

This is new ground for me, and I'm now a whining, complaining, hacked-off, unhappy camper—As opposed to my usual noble, sanguine, magnanimous self. I doubtless should have gone to church this morning, but I was too busy sulking and feeling sorry for myself BECAUSE I CAN'T SEE!

Okay, I feel better.

Yes, check out the 3-pack readers from Sam's if you have one locally. They are a better quality than glasses I've found at a drug store or anywhere else. If readers are all you need, these ought to work admirably.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Jayne…

The worst of it is, if I keep messing around with these progressives, it's likely to take several months (check, refit, send to lab, wait, try new ones, recheck, tweak again, send to lab…etc.) before I even know whether I can wear them—which at this point is not looking at all possible.

I don't think I have it in me…

Joy K. said...

My husband has juggled reading glasses and contacts for a good while. He recently got tired of dealing with reading glasses, so he had his contact lenses fitted so that one eye was corrected for distance vision, while the other lens handled close sight. It took him about a week to adjust fully, and he's now very pleased.

The only problem we regularly encounter is with our trusty binoculars. He'll have to get his own pair: it takes to long to readjust everything after he's fixed the focus for himself.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Do hope you get it all sorted out - not seeing correctly is SO frustrating - keep taking the photos though.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Joy K…

The readers over contact never seemed a hassle to me—or at least it didn't bother me all that much.

And I have worn a pair of monovision-adjusted contacts, and they worked pretty well—except I didn't like the fact my eye doc fitted the "distance" lens for my left eye, though my right eye is my dominant eye. I now suspect it should have been the other way around—read with left, track at a distance with dominate eye. I can see why he needs his own binoculars, however.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Weaver…

I will get it sorted out…eventually. But I can't take photos until I do, except for those which lend themselves to autofocus.

Yesterday morning, I tried to take a shot of foxtail grassheads backlit by the sun. I shot 41 frames, both manually focused and autofocused—and not one was usable. The manual ones because I couldn't begin to get the focus right, and the autofocus because it focused on the outside tips of the head's blooms, not more toward the stem center. This would normally be the sort of shot I could take in a single frame by manually focusing…if only I could see to focus.

The Solitary Walker said...

Hey, I'm like that too about bargains, using things up, not throwing food away etc etc (a view not shared by many other members of my family unfortunately - which does cause problems!)

I hope the eye thing gets sorted out soon. I do sympathise.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Solitary…

Hey, glad you concur re. waste…and BTW, don't think my "waste not, want not" view hasn't caused problems for me, too. Yet I simply can't tolerate a "throw away" mentality. Guess I was raised in the wrong era or something, but blatant waste is pretty much a sin in my book.

I'm going to get this vision business corrected sooner or later. I just hope it is sooner…

A from TO said...

This is the perfect time to send you some art to look at:)I am off to a 4day paint out near Alguonquin.I think you should put your camera on automatic and just stand outside shooting in a circle-see what you capture.As to your contacts can't you just put on the old ones until you get better ones?Good luck on your eyes don't where illfitting ones too long.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

A from TO…

Oh sure, make me squint and wonder—and then ask me what I thought! :-)

Actually, there is no BAD time to send me works to look at, even if I have to crank the magnification up on the screen. What's not right is that you should be off to the near-Algonquin wilds while I'm stuck here in 90-degree heat, half blind and getting crankier by the minute.

But, hey, I'll forgive you if you send me some jpegs afterwards of some of your stuff.

Finally. FYI, I haven't resorted to the old contacts because the doctor wanted me to give these an honest trial—which I have, as much bother as it has been. But it has surely been tempting. And I just had another round with the doctor this morning. He's ordering new versions—size, prescription, etc.—which I'll have to try next week. Maybe those will prove better.


Have a safe, fun, productive trip…

AfromTo said...

Just for you I will have my morning showers in a pristine lake. just me and the beavers.

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

AfromTO…

You, the beaver, and a cool northcountry lake.

I have hot and humid, a warmwater river, and cicadas calling…plus another trip to the optometrist in about 20 minutes.

Hummmm…wanna trade?