I was not blessed with normal vision. Most vision-care professionals would term my condition as nearsightedness. I consider it confusing-a-plastic-bag-floating-in-the-wind-with-a-bird vision. In order to find a needle in a haystack, I would first have to identify a haystack from a Volkswagen Beetle and take it from there. From the age of six on up, I faked my way through glasses, gas permeable contact lenses, soft contact lenses and finally Lasik surgery in order to see as most people do.
My Lasik procedure was actually a series of procedures on both eyes, first as an experimental method available only in Canada and next as a fine-tuning event meant to enhance my ability to focus on a distant target. Years later, I had two follow-up procedures, the last of which was on my right eye alone. My left eye was purposely left untreated so that my reading (close-up), vision remained intact. A double-procedure would have erased any chance at looking in the mirror and giving myself a decent shave, (my eyebrows thank me for this every day). The combination of an eagle eye and an eye intended for the Disney character, Goofy, is what I had to carry forward. On a bright sunny day, all would be well and clear, just the way I dreamed the world would be. At night however, streetlights and car headlights came at me as if I was wondering around with a newly established concussion.
My vision wasn’t perfect, but it was better than it was and I learned to cope. I also had to cope with floaters. For the uninitiated, floaters are deposits within the eye’s vitreous humour, taking on varying shapes and sizes that float about freely, creating years of yuks thinking you’ve just seen a spider dancing in front of you.
As I aged, it became apparent that one of life’s cruelest jokes was looming in my future; my reading vision was starting to wane. This cruel joke would leap out at me while I was immersed in a fetching memo, news article or book. Words such as ‘follow-up’ looked like ‘fucked-up’, the number ‘5’ looked like a ‘6’ and I don’t even want to get started on how difficult it was becoming to read Ikea assembly instructions. Moreover, my depth perception was also failing. This became rather apparent when I attempted to park my car near a curb or a parking block. Once I got out of my car, I would soon discover that I was about five feet away from them. Yes, I was becoming Mr. Magoo. I hated this! Who wants to drive over something and later find out it was a human body?
My depth perception problem was vastly untreatable; however, they do make cars with parking assistance. May I say kudos to Cadillac and Buick for understanding their market? I sought out assistance from my optometrist and was pleased to learn that cheap drugstore reading glasses were just as good as prescription glasses. For years, I was forced to obtain powerful, expensive eyeglasses, while people with farsighted difficulty paid next to nothing for cheaters. Now, the very accessibility that I used to envy was at my disposal. It was as thrilling a revelation as finding an inexpensive alternative to Scotch Tape!
Naturally, I keep these little devils scattered throughout the house, I never know when I’m going to need them. I must also bring a pair with me to read menus when my wife and I go out to dine and I need a pair just to read a simple text message on my smartphone. Nevertheless, there is one thing I refuse to do and that is to keep a pair attached to a chain to be worn around my neck. Vanity prevents me from admitting I am at that age, lest I forget that I have placed my glasses on top of my head and then scour the earth looking for them. Naturally, I’ll be distracted in my search by the revelation that I have another floater.
The future, no doubt, will bring about one more visual challenge…cataract surgery. I will gladly lay back and ask my eye surgeon to give me the best pharmaceuticals money can buy, put on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and restore my vision to all its glory. Because the day will come when I gaze out into the distance and ask myself, “Is that a short, stocky man standing on the corner? Nope, it’s a mailbox”.