The Worst Part of Growing Old? Reading Glasses
Oh, My Aching Middle-Aged Eyes
Some people cannot find their phone. Others their keys. Me? It’s my reading glasses. I misplace them constantly and need them for everything. Oh, my middle-aged eyes. It’s just not fair. Yes, the worst part of growing old is reading glasses.
By the age of 12, I was blind as a bat. Then I got Lasik surgery and had perfect vision … for a time. Now, once again, I’m eye glass-dependent. I go nowhere without clutching my readers as tightly as those needing a cane to get by.
When I was little, my father told me that the eyes were a window to the soul and that I had beautiful eyes.
Then, in sixth grade, I got my first eyeglasses. The mean kids at school called me “four-eyes” and I ran home, crying.
At 20, I got contact lens. They hurt, but people again told me I had beautiful eyes. I suffered the discomfort willingly and beamed.
Without glasses or contacts, I was legally blind. I could not see the big “E” on those wall charts during eye exams. Waking up in the morning, I could not read the clock on my nightstand. Once a familiar voice in a crowded room called out a warm “hello.” I ran over and gave my “father” a big kiss. Except it was my brother. Similar size. Strikingly similar appearance, but still …
At 45, I got Lasik eye surgery and learned the meaning of the word, “miracle.” In a surgical second, I had perfect vision. No more “four-eyes.” No more scratchy contact lens. No more vulnerability and frustration from not seeing. Suddenly I was Superwoman, able to see alarm clocks, movies, and faces in the distance.
Time passed. Middle age set in. Reading tiny (and not-so-tiny) print became an increasing challenge. Like all middle-agers, I fought the need for “readers.” No, not like “all” middle-agers. I fought the need for reading glasses more like Superwoman in denial, who despite being magically cured of her Kryptonite vulnerability, becomes weak once more.
Romantic Dinners Diminished
I first realized my eyesight was suffering while on a romantic dinner with Handsome Hubby. I couldn’t read the menu’s tiny print in the softly-lit restaurant. Neither could HH.
“What are you having?” I asked, literally and figuratively in the dark.
“I dunno,” he replied sans glasses – and sans a dining clue. “What looks good to you?”
“I dunno. Let’s see, I mean, let’s ask the server what the specials are.”
The server rattled off a list of specials so long that my faulty middle-aged memory failed me. I was still lost.
“Um, I’ll have whatever you’re having,” I cunningly said to HH.
He, like me still entrée-clueless, turned tentatively to the waiter. “Uh, steak.”
Luckily, filet mignon was on the menu.
Presbyopia by Any Other Name is a Pain
Early in our presbyopia (the condition when the middle-age eye betrays us), HH and I cleverly deployed that age-old trick of holding the menu up at a distance for the other to read. We thought we were being discreet until some young’uns at the next table snorted uncontrollably. We slammed the menu down, knowing we were doomed to another steak dinner.
With presbyopia, the lenses in the eyes first stiffen as we age – just like our legs, necks, and backs do. This stiffness makes it difficult for our eyes to focus. But wait. Things get worse. Initially, the lens itself is clear. Then, during Stage 2 of “Dysfunctional Lens Syndrome,” the lens yellows and gets hazy (like our memory). Next up? Cataracts!
Payback is a Bitch
I used to smirk and scowl when my mother handed me things she couldn’t read. Now I ask my kids for help. “What does this label say?” “Um, what temperature do I cook this meat at?” “Hey, what does this text from your father say?”
To avoid this cry – and wait – for assistance, I stash glasses throughout the house. They are everywhere – more plentiful than dust bunnies. In the laundry room. In the garage. Bedside. On my make-up table. At my desk. On the coffee table. One by the TV remote control. Two in the kitchen. And three pairs in the car.
If I owned stock in one of those cheapo reading glass companies, I’d be rich! I lose and buy readers with a frequency that rivals my milk, meat, and Milky Way candy bar purchases.
Reading Glasses Everywhere
Nowadays reading glasses have gone “cute.” After all, we boomers are nothing if we are not cute. Am I right, ladies? Leggings used to be for the gym. Now, they’re patterned in riotous colors and styles. And where our legs led us, our pricy eyeglass shopping options were sure to follow.
I own bright-orange readers and neon-blue ones too. I’ve got purple readers with polka dots on the side, and I just lost a pair with green racing stripes on the side.
And we boomers aren’t just spending our money on rad readers, we’re plopping down our green on medical treatments too.
For those in the early stages of presbyopia, options include corneal inlay devices, refractive surgery, and eye drops – now in clinical trials that promise to temporarily improve close-up work. To learn more, read this Next Avenue article by Maxine Lipner.
Guys Don’t Make Passes at Girls Who …
Yet, several of those possibilities are down the road. So, I fret. If, as my father said, the eyes are the window to the soul, what are reading glasses? Slammed and locked doors? Is that why cute guys don’t cast come hither glances in my direction anymore?
Man, this aging thing is tough! I’m sure glad I didn’t see it coming!
But speaking of guys, I guess there’s one advantage to not being able to see things close up. At least when Handsome Hubby and I cuddle, he cannot see all my wrinkles and flaws!
So, now, my dear Middle-aged Muddlers, it’s your turn: What’s the worst part of aging for you? Is eyesight the most troublesome minor malady? Is it the wrinkles? The aches? Care to share? Or vent?
I’m not quite blind as a bat, but close. I never mastered contacts, I can’t stick things in my eyes, so I’ve worn glasses since I was about 10. I went to progressive trifocals about 6-7 years ago. I appreciate being able to read fine print, lol.
Here’s to the fine print!