Wednesday, June 13th 2012
For health reasons, Tigger and I both qualify for free sight tests annually. My optician is Mr Shah, a discreet and courteous gentleman who always remembers me and enquires after my interest in photography.
Every year he sends me a letter reminding me that it is again time for my annual sight test and every year I keep putting off making an appointment until nearly another year has passed.
At each of the last several meetings, Mr Shah has carefully examined my eyes, required me to read from the distance chart and from the hand-held card and then pronounced himself satisfied with things as they are. One of Mr Shah admirable features is that he does not seek to sell you new spectacles without a real need for this, unlike certain high street opticians’ stores I could mention.
What finally prompted me this time to make the appointment was that I was finding it more difficult than before to read small print or see the detail in things.
When we watch a video together, we usually run the “Subtitles for hard of hearing” when these exist as otherwise my hearing sometimes misses important bits of dialogue. For some time I have had difficulty reading these subtitles without scrunching up my eyes.
Mr Shah confirmed my diagnostics and even he was surprised at the degree of change in my eyes and the speed at which it has come about, especially after a long period of stability.
I first started wearing spectacles, for reading only, when I was in the sixth form. For a number of years, that remained the case. Then I began having difficult with my distance vision and was prescribed a second pair of spectacles which I wore for driving or for watching TV. That situation remained, with occasional slight lens changes, until about a decade ago when, after an eye test, an optician told me I no longer needed my distance specs and that I was “legal to drive”. I still do not wear glasses for distance vision though I am aware that my visual acuity is less now than when I first stopped wearing them. As I no longer drive, though, it does not seem necessary to bother with them.
For reading or working at the computer, however, it is a different matter. What Mr Shah discovered was that whereas my right eye is long-sighted, my left has become very short-signed. “It is your right eye,” he said, “that is doing all the work.”
So after half a decade or so, I suddenly need new specs. Worse still, a single pair will not suffice as I will need one pair for reading and the computer and another pair for “middle distance”, that is, to allow me to read the subtitles on DVDs. The good news is that the latter specs will be useful, according to Mr Shah, for viewing museum displays and art exhibitions. At the moment, I have to put on my reading specs to read the labels and take them off again to view the picture or sculpture.
I had of course taken my current spectacles with me but, unfortunately, Mr Shah quickly diagnosed that they had reached the point where their joints were perilously worn and would soon fail. I would need to buy new ones. Such an expense is unwelcome at any time but there is no alternative and one’s eyesight is a precious gift that deserves to be looked after properly.
I am looking forward to being able to read small print again without screwing up my eyes and also to being able to read DVD subtitles. The thought does cross my mind, however, that if my eyes have changed so suddenly now, they might do so again, even before the end of the customary year between sight tests.
On a different but related topic, I was one day playing about with pieces of cardboard and pins. I discovered that if you view a scene or a page of print through a small hole, the scene appears in focus even without the observer wearing corrective lenses. This, of course, is the principle of the “pin-hole camera” that takes sharp photos without a lens.
It therefore occurs to me to wonder whether it would be possible produce a sheet of some opaque material pierced by thousands of closely packed small holes and whether this material could then be used in spectacles as a sort of universal correcting device, obviating the need for expensive transparent lenses.
There are probably good reasons why this would not work. Can anyone explain (simply, if possible!) what these are?