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January 2011
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Future Vision

Rumor has it that as you get older, it gets harder for you to read smaller (or regular print), especially in low light. It’s called presbyopia.

Mayoclinic.com states:

Presbyopia — the gradual loss of your eyes’ ability to focus actively on nearby objects — is a not-so-subtle reminder that you’ve reached middle age. A natural, often annoying part of aging, presbyopia usually becomes noticeable in your early to mid-40s and continues to worsen until around age 60.

You may become aware of presbyopia when you start holding books and newspapers at arm’s length to be able to read them. If you’re nearsighted, you might temporarily manage presbyopia by reading without your glasses.

Unfortunately, I can attest first hand that the rumor is true and annoying. Over the past few years, my ability to read small print in low light has deteriorated greatly. So for all my colleagues I used to tease on business trips when they held their menus far away, or brought the menu closer to a light, enjoy your Schadenfreude. It totally sucks.

One form of a Japanese vision test eye chart


My eyes are messed up anyway, farsighted with astigmatism. As I’ve gotten older, my farsightedness has actually improved, while my near vision for reading has gone south. So really, the solution should be bifocals or progressive lenses. Sigh. I can still read fairly well without reading glasses though – or at least I can read English. I’m completely blind reading tiny Japanese text with furigana. It is impossible, so I have a pair of reading glasses (and not the pharmacy reading glasses – no sir – my farsightedness and astigmatism precludes that) that I use when I am reading Japanese or small English text.

When I was back in the States in November, I had a pair of lenses replaced because they had become too scratched somehow, and I was tired of seeing starbursts at nighttime through my frames. As a vain guy, I have three pairs of glasses so it wasn’t a major impact, but these frames I wore probably 90% of the time. OK, 99% of the time. I went to the doctor and had them arranged to be express shipped to my brother’s place in Boston since I was not going to be back in LA.

My everyday glasses


Fortunately, the glasses arrived in Boston while I was still there, I popped them on, and they felt really, really good. Ahhhhhh. Then I pulled out my iPhone to read something, and I couldn’t make out a thing. Everything was completely blurry.

Simulated reading results with new lenses


The previous year, my Doctor and I had reached a bit of a compromise. We thought that I could go with my 2008 prescription that overcorrects my farsightedness, and helps my reading ability as well. It isn’t really enough for reading, but it is adequate. I didn’t want to transition to bifocals yet because that is admitting that erectile dysfunction is just around the corner. Actually, I didn’t want to make a change just prior to moving to Japan. In 2010, I got another eye check and of course things had changed. So I had a new prescription and again my Doctor and I agreed to stick with the old prescription but to perhaps update my reading glasses.

When I went to get the new lenses, the optician pulled the 2010 prescription to make the lenses, resulting in beautiful distance vision but horrible reading. Of course, I found that out in Boston. I also had gotten rid of all my old prescriptions in Japan because they were “out of date.” Luckily, my optician agreed to send me the new old prescription and now I am in the process of getting new lenses in Japan.

Of course, in Japan, the lenses are much more expensive. Nothing like paying for lenses twice in a 3 month period. And I was greeted with a matrix of options … how much thinner, what kind of coats, and how much edge distortion are you willing to accept? I kind of shot for the middle – I hope the lines will be straight enough. We’ll see in one week how well the new lenses work.

I had Tomo with me to help with the transaction, and even with him present it was hard to communicate the various things I needed / wanted. However, I’m pretty confident we got the right lenses on order in terms of correction. I’m just worried about the extra stuff like the coating, the index of refraction, and the distortion. Oh well. Time will tell.

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