Thursday, April 22, 2010

I just got progressive lenses and it's like a free and constant acid trip

Last week, I went to the optometrist to get my eyes checked and pick out some new frames for my specs. I have astigmatism, and it's fairly mild. Without glasses, I can still read a good portion of text at any distance, and there is only a slight "fuzz" or "distortion" around objects.

My last RX, about 5 years ago, was pretty straightforward:

In technical terms, Sphere: (L) plano (R) plano, Cylinder (L) -2.00 (R) 1.50, Axis (L) 095 (R) 090, Add: (nothing in either).

My new prescription:

Sphere: (L) plano (R) -0.25, Cylinder (L) -2.75 (R) 1.75, Axis (L) 090 (R) 099, Add: +1.75 (both)

The big difference is that my old lenses were single vision. Just one "view" and everything looked the same, no matter which way I tilted my head or pointed my eyes. Everything through the glasses, even when viewed with peripheral vision, looked the same. It was pretty clear, and I wasn't sure I even needed that big of an adjustment on the RX. (I went mostly for the regular check up, and for the frames). If you look at the numbers, really, the major difference is that my left eye had gotten worse, and the addition of the "add" enhancement for near reading in the new RX.

So I go pick up my new specs today, and they look fabulous. Different style of frame for me, more comfortable, and I really like them.

Then I put them on.

Holy shit.

I felt like I just came off a weekend in Vegas with Hunter S. Thompson and went straight into a 5 day bender with the characters from Trainspotting. I've had acid trips that were more lucid and focused.

Yes, when I position my head properly, and look through the "proper" part of the lens, things seem clear and focused. More than with my previous lens and RX? Debatable. However, look the wrong way, or try to use my peripheral vision and things become muddled and disorienting. My first reaction is DO. NOT. WANT.

The folks at the vision center (and much of the online reading I've been doing about progressive lenses) say that it takes a good 3 or 4 days to completely adjust, and once you do, you will absolutely love the progressive lenses and wonder how you ever lived without them. Right now? I'm tempted to gouge my eyes out with a steak skewer and develop my other senses like Matt Murdock.

Whatever limitations there might have been with my previous RX and lenses, I didn't notice a lack of clarity and I was certainly used to -- and now massively appreciative of -- a consistency of image, no matter what my eyes or head might be doing.

I think I'll give them until Monday before deciding to go back and see what else can be done. (Different progressive lenses? Check the RX again? Pick a "best overall case" for single vision lens? Don't know).

Has anyone else who wears glasses been through this transition? Anyone else wear progressives? Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Am I overreacting? Should I just enjoy the hangover free trip, dude?


  1. That does not sound good. I too have astigmatism--not sure how severe been a while since I've had my eyes checked. Pretty sure when I next go I will not be getting progressive lenses--thanks for the heads up. Hope it is better by Monday.

  2. I don't have progressive lenses but I think I'm due for bifocals.
    Still just wanted to give props to any post that name-checks Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas and Daredevil.

  3. I'll report back Monday, but after 12 hours, I'm getting "used to" the lenses. One thing I've noticed is that bottom, or "downward looking" part of the lens, gives excellent focus on the CrackBerry, which is a huge plus. Still, there are really FOUR different "zones" on them: top, for distance, middle, for computer and middle distance, and bottom, for reading, plus, the bottom/side, with NO RX, which is just...wacky.

    Hipster, bifocals are pretty "clean" division of vision, and shouldn't be that jarring of a change from a single vision lens. That might be a pleasant surprise. And I think if Matt Murdock wasn't such a stick in the mud, he and Raoul Duke would an excellent time together. After all, they both have "lawyer" sidekicks. You could probably find Dr. Gonzo and Foggy Nelson at the buffets.

  4. I have progressive lenses. You are describing the experience I went through when I first got them note for note. It is hard to believe but in a few days you will not even notice you have progressive lenes as your eyes will be trained to look the proper "zones" automatically. Hang in there and I think you will find you like them. If not you can collect on my free money back guarantee.

  5. hahaha...I got Lasik (TM) five years ago because I knew I was fast approaching 40 and bifocals. I figure this way I'll just have to deal with readers...I can even cheat and buy the cheapo magnifier ones at the drugstore. Good luck with the REALLY careful going down stairs or stepping off of curbs. :)
    aunt melmel

  6. Cool, 24 hours has made a huge difference. Much better already. I'm going to try a different "quality tier" of lens (I chose the middle tier, with a narrower "channel" and will upgrade to the Mack Daddy) and see if that works better. But I'm getting a sense that the adjustment period is not a mythical creature like a unicorn.

    Mel, the only "dangerous" thing I've noticed is looking behind me when I'm backing my car up (what with the peripheral vision and all). Of course, I did just vacuum my foot, so I'm probably not out of danger yet. I considered Lasik, but damn - burning eye flaps gives me the wiggins. Glad it worked for you!