Bespectacled again

26 comments on Bespectacled again
4 minutes

I’ve switched back to wearing glasses after having worn a contact lens since 1986. This was a surprisingly big deal for me.

I’ve only ever worn a contact on my right eye, as my left eye was hard to fit back in ’86 and was only very slightly nearsighted anyway. Since I turned 50, with my contact in I need to carry reading glasses everywhere. I also wear sunglasses outside in all but overcast weather. I was carrying or wearing glasses most of the time anyway. Wearing regular glasses is less hassle!


Also, for the last five years or so my contact has been set so that I could comfortably read at my computer, trading away a little crispness in the distance. It was a fair trade, but now that I’m back to glasses I have a pair for my computer and a pair for everything else. It is nice to be able to read all of the street signs while driving again.

My optometrist suggested bifocals, but I balked. Instead, he wrote one prescription for distance and one a little less strong for reading my computer screen. Uncorrected, my eyes can read up close just fine, so no need for a third prescription or reading glasses.

I bought one pair of glasses at the optometrist’s since my insurance mostly covered them. But I bought two more pairs through one of the online eyewear companies. They cost only $35-40 each! The frames are not quite as high quality as those the optometrist’s office sold me, but they’re fantastic for the price.

Old glasses, still in service

I also have two old pairs of old glasses still in service for watching television, one upstairs on my nightstand and the other in the family room next to my easy chair. I find that I don’t need to wear glasses everywhere; I can move around fine without them. I wear glasses at my computer and while driving, often (but not always) while out and about on foot or on the bike, and seldom around the house. My right eye is -2.75 nearsighted and my left eye is +1.00 farsighted, and they don’t work together. I switch between them at will. When I don’t have glasses on, I use my left eye to navigate my world and my right eye to read things. It’s not perfect as the left eye is weak from decades of light use, but it works well enough.

I am blown away by how happy I am not to have to care for my contact lens anymore. It feels freeing to not have to clean it at night and insert it in the morning. I didn’t realize how often I had to fiddle with it because it had become uncomfortable. All of this was just the norm in my life and I had adapted to it. But now, I don’t ever want to go back to it.

Strong eyebrow game at age 25

Once upon a time, I had full, dark eyebrows. In middle age, they’ve gone sparse. For years I chose light metal or wire frames for comfort. But now I’m choosing big plastic frames that cover my thinned-out brows. I think they give my face back some of the character it’s lost.

This reminds me of why I switched to contacts all those years ago. Something about my vision forced me into glass lenses in the 1980s. My glasses were heavy and uncomfortable. They sometimes blistered my nose. But now I can wear light polycarbonate lenses. My metal-framed glasses feel like they’re hardly there, and even the plastic-framed glasses are comfortable enough.

Age 17 – those glasses hurt

At the moment I use clip-on sunglasses when I wear my glasses outside. Given how inexpensively I can buy prescription sunglasses online, I might give them a whirl. Either way, I’m carrying something, the clip-ons or the sunglasses, when I’m out and about. This has been the only hassle I’ve encountered so far that I wish I didn’t have to deal with.

There’s one last reason I’ve switched back to glasses. It’s my droopy right eyelid. My optometrist referred me to an ophthalmologist, who has scheduled surgery to lift the eyelid, as it covers half of my iris and interferes with my vision. Surgery happens Friday. The doctor said it’s likely that 37 years of pulling on the corner of my eye to pop out my gas-permeable lens has damaged the eyelid muscle. He says it will be wise for me to not keep doing that. I think it’s a fair trade so I don’t look like Popeye in photographs anymore.

So far, glasses have not made it harder for me to use my cameras. I’ll learn more about this as I cycle through my collection in the months to come.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


26 responses to “Bespectacled again”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    Never bought into the contacts thing. As a professional photographer, never wanted to jam anything into my eye! Before soft contacts, and permeable, everyone I knew with original hard contacts, were constantly scratching their eyes; not to mention they warned that people that worked in environments with fumes, read:darkrooms, could trap the fumes between their eyes and the contacts and damage their eyes. All the negatives just made them a non-option. BTW, after my cataract operations, I needed bifocals if I didn’t want to carry readers in my pockets all the time so I could read a label in the grocery store; my regular non-glasses eyes were corrected enough for distance, in the process. At the suggestion of my sister, I picked old hard line bifocals, as I found the progressives to be kind of annoying. But yeah, very well made readers from Target for 16 bucks a throw, are what I use for close work at home, like reading the computer screen and newspapers/magazines.

    BTW, my original eyes worked exactly the same as yours, one focused close up, the other farther away. After the correction of cataract operations, they now both focus at infinity, and I actually didn’t realize how annoying that would be, after my entire life of “two focal lengths” !

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My dad got his vision corrected with his cataract surgery, too, and then had to carry readers for the rest of his life. I hope I don’t get cataracts and have to face that choice, as I like how things are working now.

      1. Amdy Umbo Avatar
        Amdy Umbo

        You know the very good eye person that did my cataract surgery led me to believe that it was possible to correct my eyes to about anything if I so desired; I didn’t think it through because one eye only focused to about 4inches, but I probably could have had that eye corrected to about 2.5 feet, and the other corrected to infinity, and I would have been pretty happy with that, altho I would have needed glasses for driving. Right now, the greater part of my bifocals have zero correction, with one eye needing some edge correction that’s relatively unnoticeable when I’m not wearing glasses, and the bottom part of the bifocal being corrected to about +2.50. If you need cataract surgery, you might have that discussion with the provider, as I think they can just laser blast the fog out and leave your eyes the same!

  2. -N- Avatar

    I never liked contacts – my eyes are too deep set and I am too myopic to see beyond my nose with any sort of clarity. I once lost a plastic lens in the corner of my eye by the tear duct and it took about 4 hours to get it out with a little suction cup supplied with the contacts. These were hard contacts.

    Now, let’s talk cataracts! I had cataract surgery and faced with choices, such as “adjustable” lens replacements for both far and near, fixed focal distance, and one near and one distance focus, I asked my ophthalmologist what he thought for stability and such, I chose fixed focus at about 24″ from my eye. Now I can read without glasses if I choose, look at the monitor of the computer, and so on. Close up work is a bit of a challenge, but for distances, I can at least drive and see if necessary (but illegally!). I still wear glasses, and I do prefer them on as they really protect my eyes from all sorts of things except my allergies. I will always wear glasses and I am so used to seeing my face with them, without them is just too bizarre.

    Who did you use for online glasses? We use Costco as we get them for about $250 max – which is far better than the $1000 + I hear is the common price these days.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      How interesting that you custom set your vision through your cataract surgery. I could do that if I had to! That would be awesome, to correct my left eye to 20/20 and my right eye to whatever it needs to be so I don’t need glasses to read or use my computer. I’d happily wear glasses to drive, no problem.

      I use Zenni Optical for my glasses. The pair in the first photo, single-vision lenses, cost me about $40. I like Costco as well and the pair that I’m wearing in the second photo are from there. I think I paid about $100 for them but that was years ago.

  3. Ben Cotton Avatar

    I prefer contacts (he says as he is wearing his glasses because he was too lazy to put contacts in this morning), particularly if I know I’m going to wear sunglasses, but there are certain times (especially traveling) where glasses are just easier. I’m glad that you’ve found an approach that works for you. I hope the eyelid surgery goes well!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Being able to wear regular sunglasses is the killer feature of contact lenses, for sure. I’m doing clip-ons and this is the only downer to my new situation.

  4. joenield Avatar

    My vision problem is mostly standard issue nearsightedness, but buying prescription sunglasses is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I used to use clip on/magnet covers, and it was an endless hassle. Swapping pairs during the day while driving or outside is so much easier, and on the rare occasions I feel like I need both, I’ll just hang the other from my shirt collar. Honestly, with polarized lenses, a lot of the time I’ll keep my sunglasses on indoors and not have a major issue unless I’m in a darker building.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      That’s what my brother does. He likes it. I may consider it.

  5. tbm3fan Avatar

    Since you have given up contacts, assume SCLs, I won’t go into them given my 42 years of experience fitting them. As to your glasses it seems you have a bunch. I, personally, have three kinds. One, are my suns which are Brown C polaroid progressives and I keep one pair in each of three cars. One, is my distance progressive I keep in a drawer and rarely use unless I was doing something strictly distance oriented like going to a movie. Last, are my computer progressives which are my most versatile pair and I keep one at home and one in my office. I can see near, I can see my computer at 30 inches, and my distance isn’t bad at around 20/30 so I can drive with them at night. In short full time except in sun. Many of my patients have gotten a similar set and have also put away their standard distance progressive like me. Not going to get these Hoya Tact 60 lenses from Zenni though.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I was RGP all the way. Tried soft once and preferred the crisp vision my RGP gave me. I hope to get my glasses to something like what you have. That sounds perfect.

      1. tbm3fan Avatar

        So a dinosaur. At this point in time I only have five patients left in RGP lenses. Three for medical reasons and two for the multifocal option. All the rest either died, had cataract surgery, or decided to hand it up for glasses later in life.

        1. Jim Grey Avatar

          I’m a T-Rex, hear me roar!

          When I was fitted for RGP I was told that there weren’t soft lenses that would correct something about whatever was wrong with my vision. I don’t remember what anymore. Then I grew to like those lenses and stuck with them.

          Count me in the “decided to hand it up for glasses” crowd.

  6. ronian42 Avatar

    I’ve worn glasses for most of my life. I was prescribed long-sighted in my teens. Never considered contacts as I don’t like the idea of something in my eye as opposed to over it. As regards cameras and glasses, I’ve never had a problem with my SLR’s. The only cameras I sometimes find trickier to use are those with small viewfinders. The worst offenders in my collection are the Olympus XA, XA2 and XA3, Olympus Mju-2 (I think it was called stylus in the US) and my Fuji Instax SQ6. Although my Minox cameras are small, their viewfinders are a reasonable size and don’t seem to be too bad with glasses. Keep us posted as to how you get on and hope all goes well with the op.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Now I need to try my XA and see.

      The one challenge I find using glasses with my cameras is on very sunny days, the reflection of my eye on the back of the lens sometimes makes it hard to see through the viewfinder.

  7. Daniel Brinneman Avatar

    I went to the eye doctor and he said I could get a cheap pair of readers. I wear them when at the computer or driving at night when my eyes are tired to sharpen up the picture but without them I see fairly well long distance but not close up on reading small print. Depending on the font family, I can read the text without glasses between 14 and 16 pixels font size.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Sounds like you’re slightly farsighted then?

  8. Phil C Avatar
    Phil C

    Jim you could try a hat with a brim to help with reflections using the viewfinder in bright sunlight. Ideally glasses should have multi anti-reflection coated lenses.

    I’m an optometrist in England. I think what you have described as your current solution with glasses sounds good. You are the only person who needs to be satisfied with it after all.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve never been a big hat wearer but you’re certainly right that a brim would cut out most reflection. I got my glasses through an online retailer – not entirely sure what kind of coating I got. When I order from them again I’ll choose that more carefully.

  9. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Ah yes, birthdays and eyes. I have had glasses since I was a boy but could still pass a first class pilot medical without them until my mid forties. But one night I discovered under red cockpit lighting I could not easily tell the difference between a 6 and an 8 on a landing chart. I used lookover readers for a while, then bifocals which save carrying two pairs, and more recently progressives. Can read very little without them now, and thinking of getting some dedicated readers for office work. Time exacts a fee!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Time sure does exact a fee. My father and I are physiologically very similar and so I have an idea of what to expect with my vision in the years to come. Fortunately for him, he never needed more than drug-store readers. However, in his last year or so he was functionally blind due to macular degeneration.

  10. Katie Yang Avatar

    I hope your surgery went well! Like most teenagers I hopped onto the contact lenses train as soon as I was allowed to and although I never enjoyed it (they make my eyes very tired at the end of the day), I stuck to it because at that time they made me feel prettier (lol). One day in my early 20s, I put a contact lens in my left eye and the SEARING pain that followed is something I will never forget. Unbeknownst to me, the was a tear in the lens. I went on to take a break from contact lenses but simply never picked it up again. Congrats on your newfound freedom! :D

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The surgery did go well, thank you for asking! A little more than a week later and the bruising is gone. Still some swelling though.

      One of the reasons I changed to contacts was because I thought I looked better without glasses, as well. It’s a reason why I stuck with them, too. I still have some vanity, but at my age I’m starting to get over it.

  11. J P Avatar

    Glad your surgery went well! I tried contacts once, back when I was in my late 30s. That was when I discovered how often I looked over my glasses to look at things closely, like a thermostat in a dim hallway. Contacts made me get reading glasses. I quickly decided that the only real benefit to contacts was that I didn’t get raindrops on my glasses in wet weather. I decided that it only rains sometimes but I read stuff up close every day.

    I have worn bifocals for years now. As for the sunglasses, a crude-but-effective solution is some cheap polarized sunglasses I keep in the car will fit over my regular glasses. They get the job done, and I am old enough that I don’t care what I look like wearing two sets of frames at once.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It was when I started to need reading glasses that contacts became far less convenient for me. In the last two years I got to the point where I was just sunk reading a menu if I left my readers in the car. Now I just take my glasses off. So much better.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.