Wednesday, January 30, 2013


“What’s this stuff on my glasses?”

I pulled them off and looked at the left lens. A crinkly, irregular halo starting about one-third of the way in from the edge caught the light in sparkles and rainbows. Now, I personally think rainbows are very cool and sparkles, well, in the right place sparkles are just the thing. But not on my glasses.

“Why is it just on the left lens? That’s my good eye.”

I admit neither eye could now be considered “good” but I’m particularly fond of the left one because it’s the one I use to focus with. Everyone has a dominant, focusing eye and mine is the left.

I learned this a long time ago. Mom said that mixed dominance and crossed dominance (she had distinctions for both but I glossed over that a bit) ran in our family. I’m right-handed, left-eyed and right-footed. My brother is left-handed with a tendency towards ambidexterity. The closest I come to that is that I have the urge to play guitar left-handed. This doesn’t come up much since I don’t actually play guitar. But when I’ve tried, it just seemed upside down to me. I wanted my “smart hand” on the strings and frets. This may be why I don’t play guitar but neither the world nor I have suffered any great loss here, I suspect.

One of the things that having my dominant side switch hemispheres of my brain has made easier was hitting a baseball. If you bat right-handed, you look at the pitcher over your left shoulder. If the eye closest to the pitcher is your focusing eye, well, it seems like something of an advantage. I think I had a moment when I was 14 when my eyes and my ability to swing a bat came together. Home runs and triples! It was a short-lived success and is buried rightfully in obscurity, burning out that summer as I grew up and older and everything seemed to shift out of place again.

It was no help at all when I was in summer camp being taught how to shoot a .22 short rifle at a paper target. I had the urge to stand on my head, swing my chin to an impossible angle, do anything to adjust to be able to sight the sights. Oddly enough, I was, again for a brief period one summer, a crack shot with a short .22. Even my brother was proud of me! I was fine when I was shooting at a black and white paper target; when it came to actual hunting, I wanted to take them all home as pets. Confused as to concept, I’m sure my father and brother thought. I did not go hunting with them. I’m glad. I don’t like killing things, except perhaps paper targets. That’s probably the source of our political differences today.

Still, having gurk on your glasses is not helpful when you rely on the things for everyday living, crack shot or not.

“Think that will wash off?” I rummaged for the glass cleaner. It’s got to be around here somewhere. It didn’t wash off.

“There’s some coating that’s coming off,” I groused to The Hubs, who looked amused at my running conversation with the glasses, the cleaner, the cats, the floor, himself.

“It’s worn out,” he said. “You need to use the other eye more to even out the wear.” This is his brand of humor.

I thought back to when I had purchased them. It must have been a couple of years ago. I had tried the fancy blended tri-focals once. After nearly throwing up in the grocery store and missing more than one step in a too-speedy descent, I had declared them evil and pernicious. I wanted to look down and far away and up and up close. The blended tri’s expect all downs to be close and all ups to be far. And you can’t put them on upside-down and have them work. Dissembling betrayal! I will not put up with nausea and danger. I decided to get a pair for close work and another for distance vision.

I do use the near vision glasses a lot more, so much more that I bought two pairs of them so that when I stepped on one or the cats had playfully skittered one under the bedside table, I would have the other pair at hand to find and perhaps fix the injured pair. I like reading, writing, cards, needlework, beading, little fiddly things. I drive every so often and seldom see a movie in the theatres.

“I can still see colors!” I protested when John asked where my distance glasses were. Besides, that friendly doctor who measured and puffed at and “now 3? Or 4?”’d my eyes the last time said that my distance vision was probably not too bad uncorrected. Of course if I wanted to read a street sign to find out where I was, that was a bit problematic. Monet and Van Gogh painted beautiful pictures but imprecise signage, if you get my drift.

Now my reading glasses, both pairs, were … what? Disintegrating? What was that sparkly stuff? Some coating coming off? But why was it doing this just on the left lens?

Rather than continue to contemplate the issue in detail, I made the only sane choice and made a vision appointment. I recognized the name of the doctor they set me up with, the same guy I’ve been seeing. I was glad. He might be the only person at Kaiser-Vallejo with a sense of humor lately, with the exception of the flu shot nurses. But then, when you’re in optometry, generally the worst people beef about is that things “look funny.” Usually that’s not life-threatening. So he can afford to be easy-going.

Of course, I do feel sorry for the life doctors and nurses have chosen, dealing with all those foul-tempered sick and hurt people all the time. As my friend Al, the retired urologist tells me, after a lifetime of checking under the hood with people, there’s nobody out there who looks like Elle McPherson. So much for dashed hopes, Al. May the airbrush be with you!

My whole theory on why our eyes go bad as we grow older is a Darwinian one. After all, when John and I take off our glasses, we look great, especially to each other. Those little sags and wrinkles and blemishes fade away into the Impressionist astigmatism of uncorrected vision. You look mah-vellous, dah-ling!

The Two of Swords in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck is portrayed as a woman seated with her back to a great body of water, holding two swords crossed in front of her and wearing a blindfold. Generally, the idea is being of two minds, holding two opposing thoughts up (for as long as those little arms will hold those swords) to keep conflict at bay and trying to keep from “stepping in it” in the great sea of emotion behind her. In a way, it’s an opposite of the RWS Justice card that weighs things carefully with eyes open, not our “blind justice” of law, but clear-eyed decision-making. Of course, if you’re going to make a decision, it helps if you can see the choices, so our friend in the Two of Swords must at the very least take off her blindfold.

In my case, is 3 or 4 better? Now 5 or 6? Try 5 again? Now 6? And at the end, the Good Humor Optometrist shows the final results.

“Here’s what you have been seeing,” and the screen shows a muddy grey against lighter muddy greys, some curves, some straight lines, something I could almost make out with a furious squint and a good imagination.

“And here’s what you’ll see with your new glasses!”

Wow! And no sparklies. I really have to get my eyes tested more than once every five years. I drove myself home, confident that everyone was going to get off the sidewalk in time for me to come by. Just two weeks and I’ll be able to see perhaps even you!

Best wishes.

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