I am 31 years old, less than six months from 32. It turns out that while I have never worn glasses I may have needed them for a lot of those 31 years.
I have never had an actual eye exam, the closest I ever have had is one of those things they do in grade school where you have to tell them which way the “E” is pointing on the chart. I haven’t even had one of those since I was in the seventh grade, and I cheated on that one to make sure I wouldn’t have to get glasses. Yes, I cheated on an eye exam, how sad is that.
It was really their fault that I cheated on the exam though. They lined all of the kids up against the wall right next to the chart, then had us go up to the line and read off the symbols one by one. Even though I was the third or fourth kid to go I already had the chart memorized. I was therefore able to skate right through the test without really even looking at the chart. I can’t honestly say whether or not I was able to make out the symbols since I knew what order they were in; When you know that letter is an “E” your eyes see an “E”.
Even the charts that they have hanging in the optometrists office are kind of a scam. Tell me if this looks familiar:
T O Z
L P E D
P E C F D
E D F C Z P
F E L O P Z D
(You will have to alter the distance you stand from your monitor for this to work for personal eye exam purposes.) Yes, the chart is the same in every office. No, I didn’t know it all from memory, I had to look up the last two lines on google. Granted they don’t use this as the basis for what kind of vision correction you require, but they do use it as a general guide to how poor your vision is. Also they have numerous charts that they show you when you are actually getting an eye exam.
I had an eye exam last Monday for the first time ever. So how poor was my vision? I was only able to make it through the first five lines, the ones that I have memorized, mind you. Then Mr. Doctor Dude put that big, fancy machine on my head and, wow, holy bejeezes, I could see! And that was him just guessing where the little machine needed to be, twenty minutes of tweaking and I was able to read the fine print on lawyers commercials from thirty yards (just kidding, NO ONE has vision that good).
I kind of figured that I needed glasses, that is why I went to a local guy where I knew they would take a few days to arrive: I didn’t want to walk in with (what I thought was) normal vision only to walk out with glasses. I wanted to have a bit of time to get used to the idea of it. As the week passed I found myself thinking that maybe my eyes were just tired or blurry when I had the exam, my eyes were just fine. Until I actually tried the glasses on. Yep, that was when I knew that I really needed the damn things. Who knew?
I suppose it is sort of like an epiphany to everyone when they finally get vision correction: Trees have outlines, they don’t just blur into the sky; The road should be a road all the way to the horizon, not just an increasingly blurry black stripe; It is possible to read the license plate of the car in front of you from a couple of car lengths back; It is really amazing all the little things that I am noticing while sporting these marvelous glasses.
I really wonder though if my vision has been getting worse at such a slow pace that I never noticed it, or if I have always had bad vision and never knew it. I can’t remember ever wanting to look at things for the sake of seeing what they looked like. I am sure that I did it as a child, but did I actually see the detail? I really don’t know.
How I wish I would have done this years ago.