Sunday, December 9, 2012

I Can See Clearly Now

One thing about losing your eyesight when you are young is that you don’t consider poor vision a sign of aging. Lately, I’ve been having some problems with my vision in addition to the nearsightedness that hit me when I was thirteen years old. At that time, I was blissfully unaware I had a problem until I couldn’t read the math problems the teacher wrote on the blackboard.

When I got my first pair of glasses—bifocals, no less—the most amazing thing to me was that I could see the individual leaves on trees. It was a real plus to be able to recognize people at a distance too. Yes, everything more than a few feet away was pretty much a blur.

Lately, I’ve been having vision problems again. This time, I’m having trouble seeing up close. I know you are thinking that un-huh, everyone seems to get farsighted as they get older—or else the arms aren’t long enough. I still have bifocals on my glasses, but I can see better without them when I’m trying to read Facebook on my cell phone, or even reading my book at night.

A few weeks ago, I had my eyes examined, and my prescription had changed slightly. Since it was such a small change, I decided to wait until after the first of the year so I could get new frames. In the meantime, and maybe even after getting my new prescription, it’s just easier to take off my glasses to see.

One night last week, I was lying on the bed, reading a post on Facebook. I took off my glasses to see better. I decided to respond to a post, and I just don’t type all that quickly on my cell phone. Eventually,  I shifted to a more comfortable position and finished. I picked up my glasses to put them back on and they were smashed flat. The earpieces lay flat against my forehead. Well, what the heck are you supposed to do with a pair of glasses like that?

For a few seconds, I thought about what it would to see the world as a blur again and not be able to recognize people. That is something that happens all the time in the Alzheimer’s world. Often, visual problems for someone with dementia isn’t eyesight, but rather a perception problem. Damage to the brain may keep them from being able to interpret what their eyes are seeing. Eyeglasses may not be the answer to this type of vision problem.

A person with Alzheimer’s can have several different vision problems. They may become lost because they cannot interpret the familiar landmarks their eyes see. A person with Alzheimer’s may have problems detecting motion. This difference is sometimes described as comparing how most of us view the world as a movie to a person with Alzheimer’s seeing a series of still photos. Another vision problem is with contrast. It may be confusing for a person with dementia if everything in the room is the same color. They may stumble over an object, that to their eyes, blends in with the background.

Knowing my vision problems could be solved with glasses, I rummaged around in the drawer where the old glasses live and found a gigantic pair from the late eighties. Nope, didn’t want to go there even if they are now “retro” and back in style. I finally found the most recent pair of glasses prior to the ones I pancaked and decided I didn’t like the way they looked. Eventually, I found a pair that I liked and put them on.

Whew. Don’t know what I would have done without glasses. I couldn’t have driven to work, or been able to do anything once I got there. Someone teased me saying that I could have just Duct-Taped the earpieces back on. Although that seemed ludicrous,  I have some photos of me taken when Jim was still in the service and we lived in Manhattan, Kansas, and I’m wearing a pair of glasses with one of the earpieces taped back on. That was during one of the periods when I wore contact lenses most of the time, and frankly, with a little baby and on army pay, it just wasn’t that important.

I think the most amazing thing about the old glasses is that I can read my Facebook just fine with them on. Isn’t that just a little bit weird? Since I smashed my glasses flat, I can see clearly now. Kind of makes me wonder if I want that new prescription after all.

Copyright © December 2012 by L.S. Fisher 
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