When I last had my eyes checked, in 2009, I was nervous about being able to hear the doctor without lip reading. (This was my first checkup after I got my cochlear implants.) So much of the appointment is spent peering through the big machines at the eye chart, answering questions about which lens looks better or worse. It really helps to be able to understand what they are saying without having to look at their lips.
This time around, I wasn’t really worried about communicating…I was just hoping to find a solution for my rapidly declining near vision. Two years ago it was just a cute little thing to complain about: “Oh ha ha, I need to pull out my reading glasses to read this menu! How embarrassing!” or “Yea, I need bifocals…getting old, geez!” It didn’t take long before I was keeping reading glasses all over the house, in my purse and in my coat pocket. I was wearing them probably 80% of the time, peering over the top of the reading glasses to look at something in the distance. I couldn’t even clearly see the food I was cooking, my eyes in the mirror when I put eye liner on, the lines on the measuring cups that we use when we make candles. Everything was just kind of a blur.
I really dislike wearing glasses – I got contacts as soon as my parents would allow, when I was 11 years old. I absolutely love my contact lenses. Bifocal glasses were a bit of an adjustment…kind of disorienting to glance down and have a different prescription, and especially weird if I wore them going down the stairs (I glance down at the stair as I step, but don’t really need my near-distance prescription for that…yet that’s what I got when I looked down through bifocal glasses). I rarely wear glasses, though – just early in the morning when I first wake up, and late at night when I take my contacts off before bed. I didn’t want to switch to wearing bifocal glasses all the time, but it never occurred to me that bifocal (or multifocal) contact lenses would be an option.
I have to give credit to my friend Lisa for making me realize bifocal contacts might work. She mentioned that she was wearing them on a trial basis and really liked them, so I asked her all the questions I had about them. How do they work? Can you tell you’re looking through different prescriptions when you wear them? Do they ever move around, so you’re looking through the wrong prescription? Her answers were so encouraging that I decided when my current batch of contacts was finished, I would get an updated exam and give bifocal contacts a try.
My contacts finally ran out this month, so I saw the optometrist on Wednesday. I had a different doctor this time but she was easy to understand and spoke very clearly. She explained that the contacts she was going to give me would have my near-vision prescription in the center, and my distance prescription in a ring outside. If I can remember correctly, I believe she said when we look at something far away, our pupils dilate and thus I would be looking through the prescription on the outer ring (for distance). When we look at something close up, our pupils contract and that is how I will see with my near-vision prescription in the center of the contact lens. Pretty cool!
She said my prescription didn’t change (not a surprise) and that they like to have people try the bifocal/multifocal contacts for a week to see how they work in a variety of situations. Some people find that the near vision is not clear enough (I guess monovision contacts with reading glasses give you the best near vision) and some people have trouble with distance, especially while driving at night. So she gave me a pair to try (I was surprised they had my prescription in stock, since I’m very near-sighted with a -8.5 prescription in each eye).
I sat down, put the contacts in and prepared to be dizzy or disoriented. Instead, I looked up and it was just like normal, except I could see everything clearly…near and far. I glanced down and read the literature on the table in front of me. I looked out the window at the traffic in the distance. It was like having my 20-year-old eyes again!
I’m wearing Acuvue Oasys (for Presbyopia) and they actually have three rings that I can see when I take them out (I don’t see any difference when I’m actually wearing them). I believe she said they have near, computer and far distance prescriptions in each lens. They are really comfortable – I don’t even notice them in my eyes. Then again, I’m such a long-time contact lens wearer that I didn’t expect to have trouble adjusting to how they feel. I really never expected to just put them in and basically have normal vision again, though, with no adjustment period. It’s amazing!
I constantly have to stop myself now from reaching for reading glasses. I’ve been using them since I hit my late 30s and I’m 46 now, so it’s been a long time since I’ve had this kind of vision without reading glasses. I’m sitting here typing at the computer with no glasses. When I finish this entry, I’ll go into the kitchen and start dinner. I won’t need reading glasses to read the recipe, or the information on the can of tomatoes, or the markings on the stick of butter. I can see the oven temperature dial again. I can clearly see the food when I’m cooking.
I took a shower today (the light is kind of dim in the actual shower area, making it even harder to see) and for the first time in many, many years, I could read the words on the various bottles – shampoo, conditioner, shower gel. Lately, if I’m using a sample of some new shampoo and conditioner, I’ve had to just kind of guess – I couldn’t read the print on the packets (which look the same) to know if I’m grabbing the shampoo or the conditioner! (And no reading glasses in the shower, ya know.)
I put my eye liner on and could clearly see my eyelid, instead of this general fuzzy area…no more worries that I’m going to stick the eye liner into my eye instead of on my lid! I can also see the little tiny white dot on my CI processor volume control, the one that tells me if my volume is at the normal twelve o’clock position. I can pick up a book or magazine and read. All of this without reading glasses!
It’s only been one day but so far I have no complaints. I still need to put the night driving vision to the test, but I suspect it’s going to be fine. I go back in a week and I imagine I’ll be giving these contacts two big thumbs up!!
(BTW, this was not an ad for the Acuvue lenses…I wasn’t paid or compensated or any of that…just a happy consumer.)