Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spectacles Update: The world isn't ending. Film at 11.

Remember just one week ago when I found myself on the verge of hysterical blindness? Well, I've lived with the new specs for a week now, and as many commenters assured me, everything is FINE. Crystal clear, perfect vision, no going back FINE.

Oh, there was a significant adjustment period. And an upgrade of the lenses. And travails with sunglasses. But 7 days later, I'm so happy I went through this, and would actually recommend it to anyone. Weird, huh?

The first few days were pure hell. I didn't know where to "look" to get things in focus. I realized how much I used my peripheral vision to absorb a lot of things around me without even bothering to move my head at all. (Can I now classify this as exercise? I think so!). Things drifted in and out of focus at virtually every distance. Then slowly but surely, I started to get the hang of it. And then I noticed how fucking clear everything became. My prescription is certainly not Mister Magoo (or "Time Enough at Last") strength, but it is so wonderful when there's a clarity present you don't remember having previously. The tiny text on my CrackBerry has never looked sharper. The computer screen is vivid. And HD TV just rocks. And while all these things were revelatory, and appreciated, I did have some frustrations.

If you know anything about progressive lenses, you know the term "channel." The "channel" is the part of the lens where the prescription(s) really is, and "progressively" blends from one strength to another. Outside the channel, there is no prescription all all. Where I went, there were three quality tiers of progressive lenses, each more expensive than the next. The primary difference is the width of the channel. I (originally) opted for the middle tier. After a few days, once I started to get the hang of it, I realized it was probably worth it to upgrade to the top tier. So I called the fine folks at Pearle back and ordered the lens upgrade, and they came in last night. Damn, what a difference. There are still the outer edges with no RX, but the channel is huge. (that's what he said). Now, with a minimum of effort and eyeball flitting, most everything I look at is perfectly in focus at all times. Part of it is training your eyes, of course, but for anyone going through this, I would highly recommend saying damn the cost, and just starting out with the top tier, and widest channel, right from the start. Believe me, it makes a huge difference.

As for shades, I've always had light sensitive eyes, and always worn sunglasses. When I first started wearing glasses, I realized I didn't want to carry around two pair at all times - regular specs and RX sunglasses. Where do you put them when you go inside or it gets dark? At one point, I didn't give a damn what I looked like, I seriously sought out a "Dwayne Wayne" solution with the flip ups for convenience. (I think they stopped making those sometime in the early 90s). So I've always worn the glasses that came with a fitted, polarized clip on. Much easier to stick in your pocket. However, this go round, almost every store I went to was getting out of the clip on business. And what few pairs they did have weren't very stylish or a good fit for my round, furry face. So I figured to squint a lot, or eventually break down and go to the effort and expense of a separate pair of RX sunglasses.

Then I found these guys.

I thought it seemed a little too good to be true, but figured hell, $50 and a money back guarantee? Why not give it a go?

Well, I got my custom pair of clips on Monday, and they fit like a glove. Unless you look really close, it appears I'm wearing Wayfarers. Because my frames are thicker, it's not quite as easy as it looks on the videos to put them on and take them off, but it's still pretty damned easy. Initially, I thought things were perfect - better than my (made to match and sold with the glasses) previous clips and almost 90% of the way to a separate pair. However, once I got out on a really sunny day, I noticed that there appeared to be big "clouds" in the vision on my right side, and that reflective surfaces (windshield glare, other cars, etc.) produced a weird effect. I had no idea what was causing this. Was it some strange reaction caused by the combination of progressive lenses and polarized clips? And if so, why were things getting all psychedelic on one side only? When I went to get the new, upgraded regular lenses popped in last night, I explained this strange phenomenon to the extraordinarily helpful folks at Pearle. It took about 30 seconds for them to figure it out. Polarization occurs on an axis, and my custom clips had been "cut" improperly. The left eye was horizontal, like it should be, but the right eye was vertical. This was causing all the bizarre distortion to my right side. I called the Clip On Guys this morning, and they apologized profusely, and told me that this happens probably "once in a million" times. (And yes, of fucking course, I'm the one millionth customer. Great luck, Schleprock). They're recutting them and sending me a new pair ASAP.

So, one week. One vision exam. One pair of frames. One hysterical freak out. Two pairs of progressive lenses. Two pairs of custom cut clip ons. But now I'm set, and I've never been happier. And it's like I'm seeing things in a whole new way.

Many thanks to those that commented, tweeted, texted and emailed with their own war stories and encouragement to "hang in there, it gets better!" There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it has been properly and perfectly refracted.

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