penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Priceless

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My mother was born nearly blind.  One of her first words was “eyes” – by which she meant her glasses.  She would call for her “eyes” first thing in the morning and even as an adult, they were the last things she took off at night. When we sent mom off into the next world, she had her “eyes” with her.

She was very lucky though because from a young age, she saw one of the best ophthalmologists in the country. Also one of the most generous and kind – he agreed to do “back stair way” surgery on my mother when it was revealed that my grandparents could no longer afford to pay to have her eyes worked on. This may seem somewhat barbaric, but was actually risky on the doctor’s part – the hospital would have forced both he and my grandparents to pay for the surgery.  Even years later, optometrists and ophthalmologists complemented my mom on the beautiful work he had done on her eyes.

As a result, my mom was very careful about her own children’s eyes. I have vivid memories of riding the subway downtown to go and see my mother’s eye doctor (who was still practicing) and his protégé.  I still remember trying to eat jello in the hospital cafeteria as my eyes blurred from drops, and trying to keep my eyes open as they shone a yellow lantern in.

Because of their vigilance, the doctors caught a problem with my eyes that is normally only seen after someone is 12 or 13 – by which time it is too late and the damage is permanent.  I had a lazy, too short eye and needed glasses to help with my reading.  And so, by four years of age, I was one of the few children already wearing glasses to school.

My mother’s carefulness has continued into the third generation.  I’ve always been careful of my own and my children’s eyesight. I was able to catch on to my son’s colour blindness, after watching my grandfather, brother and cousin live with it. After a bit of a glaucoma scare two years ago, I continue to ensure I take care of my own eyes. I can’t imagine trying to make my way through life or do my job without my eye sight.

And so, I found myself once again at the optometrist having my eyes checked out.  I wasn’t thrilled because I had a new doctor (my old one having moved on to the business of laser surgery).  The new doctor indicated that I had continued to recover well from having my eyes fixed by laser beams. However, my sight had deteriorated. In the end though, she gave me the choice.

I could either get another pair of reading glasses and allow the distance grow increasingly more blurry until my next appointment. Or I could move onto a pair of progressives – a pretty word for bifocals. After some consultations with experts (okay, my progressive friends on Facebook) I decided it might be better to go for the transition now – rather than wait until later when the change might be more extreme (“Whoa, why is everything so close up! Whoa, why is everything so far away?”)

So this evening, I spent an hour and a half, and over $900 picking out new glasses (this is why I have coverage).  Having had glasses for most of my life, I know the value of a good frame.  Too big or thick  or too colourful and it looks like you are wearing a mask. Too narrow and the frame comes into your field of vision – guaranteed to drive you crazy within the first few hours.  Too flimsy and you will be constantly popping the lens back in (the ones with the wire thread holding the lens are the worst).  Plastic is hard to mould if changes are needed.  I also knew (based on mom’s thick lenses) not all frames will hold all lenses.  After trying on pretty much every frame in the store, I picked the very last ones on the shelf.  By then two other customers had come and gone – one who had an “emergency” and another who had monopolized the optometrist’s time talking about colour, shape and the size of her face, only to buy nothing in the end.

After finally choosing a frame, the optometrist spent a great deal of time explaining how progressive’s worked, and taking measurements. I was impressed. With a normal prescription, usually it’s just a matter of picking out frames and giving your prescription. In this case, the optometrist spent time telling me about the different kinds of progressives, making marks on the frames, pulling out various arcane looking instruments and flashlights.

In the end, I think I got my $900 worth.  Besides, if there is one thing I’ve learned from my mother and through my life, investing in my eyesight is priceless.

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Written by pennyinacastle

November 5, 2015 at 3:12 am

Posted in Random thoughts

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