New Driving Glasses

For the first time in some 30 years or so I own a pair of honest to goodness glasses. I wore glasses for a fairly short time as a teenager as well but abandoned them as they gave me headaches more than they helped me see well. I’ve always passed driving tests without needing correction so I never bothered getting checked. Also, I always found wearing glasses to be a pain and why pay for them when I don’t like or need them.

But, I’m 45 now and I noticed my vision is deteriorating a bit. It was getting harder to read traffic and street signs at a practical distance. Fast food menus were also starting to be a challenge. Since driving well is critical to my lifestyle I decided I’d get an eye exam and hopefully a pair of glasses specifically for driving. When Anne’s time came up to get an exam for contacts I came along and had an examination as well. Much has changed in the last 30 years and it was an interesting experience. The doctor on staff was an RV travel enthusiast so we had a nice conversation as he dialed in on my issues.

I went and filled the prescription right away and an hour later had my new driving specs. As we walked through the mall I was floored at the difference they made. Malls are full of things to read and it was truly strange to be able to pick out words at long distances. It gave me some perspective on what true eagle eye vision must be like. Unfortunately, they have some strange side effects. It was hard to put my finger on exactly what was going on but I felt like I was in virtual reality somehow. Close up objects are distorted in an odd way. The result is it looks like objects bend around me as I move. Also, bizarrely, I feel shorter, like the ground rises up to meet my feet in a subtle way. Holding a square object close to my face, like my iPad creates an effect where it appears to be a parallelogram with the top being wider than the bottom. It is like walking about in the world’s most subtle house of mirrors.

That said, driving with them is very nice indeed. I can read the signs I could never read before, and the scenery is crystal clear, at least compared to what I see without them. Night driving is even better. Normally the light flare of headlights and streetlights at night make it hard for me to focus on the details of the road lines and unlit traffic lights. While the flare is no better with the glasses, the extra sharpness helps me see the other stuff better despite the lights. Yesterday, I decided to try them out when going to the movies. Sure enough, they made a nice difference in the sharpness of the picture. Much like someone had knocked up the resolution a notch.

All in all, I’m pleased to have gotten them. I don’t expect I’ll wear them day to day, but whenever I need to see things sharp focus or at a long distance I plan to use them. For now, they get to stay in the car, but I do look forward to trying them out on a hike. I should be able to see things in the distance a bit better, but I’m not sure how the house of mirrors effect will sit with me for up close vegetation. As weird as it is, it can be fun and exciting to see the world in a different way. How can I even say which one is “correct?” It’s a good reminder that reality, and how you perceive it are hard things to disentangle.

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