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October 28, 2003: Squint

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Iím not sure exactly when it started, because this sort of thing tends to come on so slowly that you donít really quite realize itís happening until itís there. All I know is that in the last few months Iíve started having a hard time seeing. Itís not all the time, luckily, but when I am tired things have this tendency to start to blur together, and when I am driving it has been harder and harder for me to read street signs until I am almost upon them, and after spending an entire day staring at a computer screen my head starts to hurt and lately I sometimes feel nauseous when the blur begins. And the worst of it is, if I really think hard and concentrate, I *can* see things okay. But I know that seeing shouldnít require this much effort. And itís been worrying me more and more the more I notice it.

I know itís not presbyopia, which is what happens when you get older (older than I am now, at least) and you start having a hard time seeing things close up. Age-related far-sightedness is probably the best way to describe it. I have always been near-sighted, so the prospect of going far-sighted is almost a bit intriguing. Or rather, it might have been intriguing back when I still wore glasses and contacts and staggered around in a blur without some form of corrective lenses.

I donít know how old I was when I first got glasses, but I do know I was very young; still in elementary school. I wore glasses up until high school, at which time I finally wheedled my parents into letting me get contacts. Naturally, it was at this point that I discovered my rather nasty allergy to thimerisol, which was a mercury-based component of a lot of the saline storage and cleaning solutions used for contacts back then. After dealing with puffy, reddened, crusty eyes for days on end an optometrist finally clued in on why I was having such a bad reaction to contacts, switched me to a thimerisol-free solution, and the glasses were relegated to something I only wore on days I was feeling so slothful I barely got dressed, let alone combed the hair or put on contacts.

I hated wearing glasses and it had nothing whatsoever to do with vanity and everything to do with convenience. They fog up when it is cold outside and they slide down your nose when itís hot and you are all sweaty. They get scratched and they get dusty and they get lopsided and loose. They break and they can be lost or sat on or bent. And contacts, while free of the fogging and sliding and scratching problems, are just as much of a hassle Ė with all the little containers and the solutions and the drops and what have you. I know there are those of you out there who are deliriously happy with your glasses and your contacts and more power to you if thatís what floats your boat. But by the time I made the decision to do something permanent about it I had been wearing some kind of corrective lenses for nearly 25 years of my life and I was pretty darn sick of the whole thing.

I donít remember exactly how old I was when I got the lasik surgery, but I do know it has been at least five years (perhaps six? Iím not sure). My left eyeís always been the bad one Ė the right eye is nearly normal and so they only had to zap the left one. I thought the entire process was fascinating. In and out in less than ten minutes, home with a horrible headache from the feeling that something had scratched my eye (well, technically, something had), and the next morning I woke up and could see clearly, without the need for glasses or contacts. Based on the fact that I was in my late 20ís, I figured I had a good ten or fifteen years until I would be faced with the need for corrective lenses ever again.

Ha. Apparently that was just wishful thinking on my part. After spending weeks trying to convince myself that these stupid vision issues werenít really all that much of a problem, last night I finally broke down and tracked down an optometrist who is open in the evenings (who knew the Costco membership would be this useful?). She did all her magical incantations and used her mysterious machines and made me squint at all manner of little pictures and letters, and then finally gave me my verdict.

I have mild astigmatism. While my vision hasnít changed one smidge since the lasik surgery, the left eye has decided to go ever so slightly off. Itís not enough to warrant another zap of the laser (which would have been my preferred choice), and itís not enough to send me back to wearing contacts fulltime (secondary preference), but itís enough to warrant me having to get glasses.

We picked out a pair of octagon-shaped, rimless lenses, and today I drove off to the nearest Costco (their computers were down last night) to drop off the prescription and my order. In a week or so Iíll have them back. To say that I am not looking forward to their impending arrival is putting it mildly. The only bright spot in this whole mess is that they are only for temporary use, like driving. At the very least I will not have to wear them all the time. Whee.

Glasses. I am back to having to wear glasses.


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