"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today was a really, really good day...

...one of the best I've had in a long while.


For the first time in 21 years, I can legally drive without any glasses or corrective lenses whatever. When you're closing in on 68, that's a pretty nice feeling.

When I worked nearly 20 years in engineering, spending most my time over a drafting board focused on small close-up detail, I had excellent vision because there was nearly always a window nearby, often on an upper floor, so I could always take a quick break, look out and focus on the horizon.

And then, along came computers...

Windows are anathema to them (I'm still talking about those glass things in the exterior walls of buildings; not making derogatory statements about Microsoft's gift from the gods. :-) because of glare. With computers, you spend much of the day focused on a screen about 18 to 24 inches away, and the only horizon you can switch to is the top edge of a cubicle.

To add to that, some early computer screens emitted ultraviolet radiation that, over time, could harden the lens of your eye, making it difficult to reshape to focus at other distances.

I first noticed this in 1989, while bowling with friends and having difficulty reading the numbers at the end of the lanes. Just for the heck of it, I picked up a pair of glasses belonging to one of my friends and looked through them. By a lucky coincidence, his prescription was very close to what I was needing for correction, and I was almost floored by how big a difference they made. A real eye-opener :-)

So, I got glasses and made a decent effort to keep my prescription up to date, until my job was outsourced in early 2004 and I went into early retirement.

Finding eye exams and replacement of glasses among things no longer affordable, I just made do with the last pair I had gotten in 2002.

Since losing that job, I still spend time on the computer, but not nearly as much as before.

As a result, I noticed my focus gradually moving out until I no longer used the glasses when watching a movie on a screen about 50 or 60 feet from me. I also noticed that my distance vision was becoming better without those glasses than with them.

I had an eye exam today, because my drivers license is up for renewal next month and didn't think I had a snowball's chance in Hell of passing the DPS eye test with those old glasses. When I told this to the doctor, she said that my vision had moved outward enough that if I got a certain form from the license office that she could sign it to get that corrective restriction lifted from my license.

I went out to the DPS office (no smart-ass jokes now, it means "Department of Public Safety" :-) and told the lady at the information desk what the doctor said and asked if I could have one of those forms. Instead of doing that she suggested that I just look through their tester and, if I passed, "We can get this all done NOW."

So, I looked, I passed, and now have a temporary permit that lets me dispense with glasses while driving without worrying about getting nailed for it.

My biggest surprise was learning that the lenses in your eyes can still change, even at my age. I was afraid that years of UV had hardened them forever.

This is just for distance vision; I still need readers for close up.

But, this has really made my day.

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