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MTT News's picture
Michelle Phillips

I feel like I have been pretty much rolling with the changes of getting older. Of course, sometimes I lament about the lines that continue to deepen on my face, or maybe I express my discontent in my neck resembling a turkey snood. A gray hair here and there is not so bad and easy enough to remove. For the most part I have accepted, even embraced, those things, but this latest rite of passage into old age is most disturbing–bifocals.

Until my mid 40s I never had to wear glasses, then I started needing readers to see close up. I didn’t mind the readers because it wasn’t full time, and there are some really fun and colorful frames out there. I did mind not being able to see. I had amazing vision up until that point. I could read the tiniest of font, and see road signs from an incredible distance. 

I was something of a phenomenon in my family. Everyone else wore glasses. My parents, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, and I was often called upon to read something for one of them.

Late last year I started to feel like my distance vision was not what it had been. In December I went to the optometrist, and he broke the sad news that I had moved beyond readers and would now require bifocals to see clearly at a distance.

The first thing I noticed when I put the new glasses on was that my field of vision is small at a distance. I also had good peripheral vision, so this was something entirely new to me. It was even smaller close up, and I now know why people with bifocals move their heads when they read, they are trying to hit that sweet spot in which you can actually read text. Now I am one of them. 

In addition, one must look straight ahead for optimal view. I feel like I am constrained by a neck brace while sitting at my laptop, the victim of extreme whiplash. 

When my sight strays from the field of vision, I feel like Mr. Magoo, and have great concerns that I could walk off a plank in a construction zone, get in the wrong car or carry on a conversation with a bear, thinking it’s a human. It you should encounter me doing one of these things, please, gently point me in the right direction.

I remember when my mom first got bifocals. We were walking in downtown Des Moines and she keep trying to step off the curb, unsure of where the street was because she couldn’t determine distance. She would frequently lift her glasses off her face to try to see through the lower portion to read. 

When I picked the glasses up they told me to wear them all day, every day for a week, then I can use just readers again when I am on the computer for long stretches. As I write this, I am trying to adjust to the new glasses. 

I must admit, I am enjoying being able to see at a distance again. I hadn’t realized how much of the sharpness I had lost. And, as it turned out, I found some fun, colorful frames for the bifocals, too.

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