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I'm getting new glasses

February 28, 2011 - Andrea Johnson
My eyes are getting worse and no, Mom, it has nothing to do with me getting older.

No, the eye doctor says it has everything to do with our technological age and the amount of time I spend bent over a flickering screen.

The rate of myopia –- nearsightedness -– is as great as 70 percent in some Asian countries. In the United States, it's more like 20 percent of the population, with about 5 percent of the unlucky souls like me living with "high myopia" or extreme near-sightedness. Some of this is probably genetic, but since myopia gets worse with higher rates of education, it probably has more to do with too much book work and not enough time spent doing physical activity in the great outdoors. There weren't as many near-sighted people a few hundred years ago. If there were, they suffered in silence or didn't live long enough to require corrective lenses.

Bookworm that I am, I suppose I never had any real chance of doing without glasses. I've worn them, at first reluctantly, since I was nine. By the time I was in junior high school they were such a necessity that I wouldn't have dreamed of getting out of bed without first putting them on. Without them, I am as good as legally blind. The time I broke my glasses and had to take a test in college without them was more than problematic. I remember practically lying on the desk and holding my face inches from the page to see the questions. The state of North Dakota requires me to have adequate eye lenses before I get behind the wheel of a car for very good reason

Contacts are out of the question since I can't stand to put anything in my eyes. Having my vision corrected with laser surgery never appealed either, since I can all too easily imagine something going wrong. Eye glasses are a necessary nuisance.

Last week I noticed that I had to squint to see street signs from a distance and decided it was probably time for a checkup. The doctor agreed that my distance vision was no longer 20/20 with my old glasses and gave me a new prescription. I don't know how many pair I've been through in years of wearing them. I wore the gigantic 1980s eyeglasses through my college years, the kind that make me wince now when I see pictures of my teenage self. Frames are a lot lighter and smaller now.

It's still kind of fun to pick out new glasses. My pocketbook prevented me from picking out the pair I liked that were kind of like Lisa Loeb's, though I'm afraid not even the Lisa Loeb eye glasses could make me look like Ms. Loeb. My new frames will be square instead of round but they'll still look mostly like the pair I currently wear. No one but me will know the difference. On the other hand, there's no way to put a price on 20/20 vision unless you know what it's like to see the world in a blur.


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