Sunday, September 16, 2007

low tech - Reading Glasses

If you are in your 30's you should be especially aware that in a few years if you are not already wearing glasses, you will be. It is just a fact of life that almost everybody, as they get into their early 40's, lose the ability to focus close up.

Now, what to do about it. While there are a number of reasons to visit an eye doctor, needing glasses to read is not one of them. If you have been to one in the last 5 years, you might want to save some money and stop by that little display at your grocery store and get a $10 pair of glasses. (yes, they vary from $3 to $30, but $10 is a reasonable price)

For a little more detail on the subject you can read about "readers" here (be aware, this site is indirectly involved in the eye ware trade and may have some conflict of interest), but there are some other things you might want to know. Like how to tell how strong to get your first pair.

The first few times I stopped by the display, I noticed there was a little blurb written to explain what strength glasses to get. The test they described didn't make sense the first time I read it and after reading it several times, then actually using reading glasses for a few months I realized it was nonsense.

If you didn't wear glasses when you were 35, and you have begun to notice you are having trouble with small print, you should begin with the weakest glasses you can find and concentrate on what style you want. I initially made the mistake of getting "moderate" strength, a pair of which I keep around in case I need to look at something really close up. As a general guide, if you can focus on print closer than one foot, they are plenty strong. Referring back to the article, you will need to decide whether you want them for general reading (newspapers and books) or if you need some that you can look over the top of when you need to see far away. I have a job that sometimes requires me to look at a list in my hand, then immediately look out the window at some equipment several hundred feet away. Half glasses are great for that, otherwise they are second best. On the other hand, after some practice, I learned in Sunday School to wear regular glasses and just ignore the fact that people across the room are a little blurry. (My Sunday School is like a round table classroom, with books and study guides and Bibles)

As time goes by, the average person's eyes get a little worse (see note 1) and after a year or two, you may find you need stronger glasses. Keep the old ones for tasks that don't require as much strength. My monitor is 30 inches from me, and I use some weak glasses while at my computer desk. (as opposed to this idea about computer glasses)

Of course, my life is ecletic - I almost never do the same thing for more than a couple of hours before I have to attend to a different task. If your job requires you to focus at one distance for hour after hour, you may need to spend the money and get something made just for you.

Also, if you have any other problems with your vision, like astigmatism, all of this may go out the window, since readers are not currently made to compensate for that. (See Note 2)

Well, here's to going through our 40's.
Keep reading.

1. Optometrists used to use this tendency to tell their patients "you have to wear these to keep your eyes from getting worse," and some people used to say don't watch TV in a dark room or your eyes will go bad. Nowadays, some charlatans use this tendancy to say that eyeglasses are a crutch that will cause your eyes to get weaker and you need to use our secret to see clearly without glasses. All three of these ideas are bull.

2. This is something I would love to see fixed. The vast majority of people could be served if only eight variations of asigmatic lenses were available. While this wouldn't work a the grocery level, it could be marketed through a web site. It could be boiled down to 8 astignatisms, times 12 primary strengths, times 12 styles - for a total of 1152 variations. With a customer base of thousands it wouldn't work, but with a customer base of millions it would.

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