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The blind bat's descent into darkness - Denese Richards

When I was in my twenties, I worked for an optician as a receptionist.

I remember that I got the job because I spelled "viscosity" correctly, although the quality of being viscous had nothing to do with being a receptionist.

That particular job was obviously not my forte, you know: a set schedule, routine, and the same thing every day. I was coming unglued, so I started entertaining myself by learning about eyes.

Now, at no point did I ever intend to be an optician. I probably won't use the correct terminology in this article, so I'm begging for forgiveness up front.

When I was there, it was the early 1980s, and contact lenses were just getting to be big time. It was the vast majority of their business, and I was blown away by the markup you could get for a pair of contacts. The other biggie was bifocals.

Folks eventually need bifocals because, as you age, your eyes lose the ability to transition from distance vision to close vision quickly. It is as though the focus muscles in eyes atrophy with age in the same way the getting-up and getting-down muscles in your rear end behave.

There appear to be two, or three, approaches to this inevitability. Once my sight started to blur, I put vanity aside and went to get my spectacles with the bifocals. One problem: I seem to lose them as fast as I can buy them, and even the cheapest optical stores can't come up with a deal to make it financially feasible for a frequent (and blind) flyer like me.

So, my solution No. 2 is where we are right now. I purchase reading glasses by the gross. I have them in my purses, my desk, my nightstand, the bathroom cabinet, and the pantry.

I know, you're laughing about the pantry, right? Think about how dang tiny all those ingredient labels are! See?

It also helps at the office, if you have multiple blind folks who can all use the same-strength glasses, you can leave extra pairs on each other's desks, and borrow as needed.

I'm also using this approach to feed my need for shiny things. You can get all kinds of interesting-looking reading glasses. A local pharmacy used to carry an entire line of ladies reading glasses that MUST have been designed for the ladies in the Red Hat Society.

My next line of defense will probably be surgical. I just cannot abide the idea of contacts. I can hardly put on eyeliner and mascara, much less stick a piece of plastic in there every day.

I have one friend who has a distance contact in one eye, and a close-vision contact in the other. No doubt in my mind that I would mix up my contacts on a regular basis and wind up cross-eyed.

Now, I've just got to screw up enough courage to overcome my claustrophobia long enough to go and begin the process to see if that means lasix or radial keratonomy.

I dunno, just saying it out loud makes me think I can make do for a while longer with a few more pairs of reading glasses lying around in my path.

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.