Photo courtesy of Mark Anderson
I fell the other day. I was late and rushing and tripped on some broken sidewalk and went down sprawling and skidding. I still can’t stop thinking about broken bones and lost teeth. This time, there was only a bloody knee and punctured palm. I picked myself up and hailed a cab (which I should have done to begin with), and a couple of blocks later realized I was without my eyeglasses, which must have flown off when I fell.
Imagine that: I hailed a cab without my glasses! I don’t think I could normally do that. Was it that in my shock I momentarily acquired some kind of superpower vision? The cab wasn’t even an eye-catching yellow—it was just a dusty little beige. And I rode two whole blocks before I missed my glasses—but then, I suppose even the nearsighted can check for body parts.
In the cab my panic over possible injury gave way to panic over losing expensive prescription glasses; we went back to the scene and the cabbie waited while I found mine. Miraculously, they weren’t even scratched. Putting them on, seeing everything clearly, I felt halfway restored. Ironic, considering that if I’d been watching where I was walking in the first place, I wouldn’t have fallen.
For writers and editors, good vision is a handy tool. If you don’t often think about yours, take a minute now.
Not long ago I developed persistent neck and shoulder pain and mentioned it to my optometrist. She asked if I spent a lot of time at the computer and explained that as a bifocal wearer, I was probably tilting my head at awkward angles for hours at a time. She prescribed single-vision lenses specifically for reading at computer distance. They’re a great success, not just for computer work, but for every kind of reading. (Once I accidently wore them rollerblading; not recommended.)
If you’re young and well sighted, or older with stable vision, you might believe you don’t need eye exams. But without them, you have no way to know whether you are developing glaucoma. This condition is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States (cataracts are the first), and here’s the kicker: often by the time you have symptoms, it has progressed to a dangerous extent, and there’s no cure. Caught early, however, it can often be slowed by means of treatment as simple as eye drops.
Not everyone has insurance to cover regular vision testing, but if you are over forty, consider making it a priority. Just one visit can tell you whether you have signs of glaucoma, and if you don’t, you can feel better about coasting a while between checkups.
Read about glaucoma: