A pain in the neck


Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world. Arthur Schopenhauer

New glasses, I lost my old ones somewhere in the garden, or at least that’s where I narrowed down the potential field to.

The garden, why on earth the garden? I’m one of those folk who pushes her specs on to the top of her head when not needing them, because that’s a convenient place to keep them, easily accessible, I know where they are and I don’t need to worry about carrying a case with me.

It turns out that, according to my insurer, the garden is quite a common place to lose glasses and not an easy place to find them. Glasses, bright and shiny, are popular with magpies and even an occasional cat is not averse to stealing them.

It had been a couple of years since my last eye test, so I was due for a check anyway. Two weeks later and my new specs were ready, I went for a final fitting and collected them. I knew it takes a while for eyes to adjust to new vision, so I expected a bit of discomfort, but the last two weeks have literally been a pain in the neck. I’ve had headaches, puffy eyes and pain down the right side of my neck down into my shoulder. The sore eyes, I can understand as wearing occupational/ progressive lenses feels rather as if I’m peering through a pair of binoculars, which for eight hours staring at a computer screen is is likely to lead to ocular discomfort.

I’ve come to realise that I move my eyes constantly, scanning words, paragraphs, pages and screens. Unlike my partner who reads every word and is consequently a painfully slow reader, I’m a speedster, and herein lies the problem.

To effectively use graduated lenses, you have to move your head more than is natural, and for me tipping it at times to unnatural angles to see text in focus. Although in latter days, I’ve resorted to tolerating out of focus in order to to relieve the neck strain. To add to my annoyance, the new glasses have a limited range so that for reading tasks beyond the computer screen, looking at a calendar on the wall behind, for example, the vision is again out of focus. The result of being mostly out of focus is mild nausea.

I gave them two weeks and then cracked. I was surprised at how tearful I was when I went back to the optometrist, realising how important sight is and how limiting poor vision is I suppose, while feeling pathetic at the same time. Half an hour later I have a solution: two new pairs of single lens glasses, one for computer work and one for closer reading.

I know it’s going to be a juggling act most of the time, swapping between pairs for different tasks, but to prove to myself I’ve made the right decision, I’ve spent today on the computer wearing a pair of single lens specs I wore three years ago. They’re no good for close reading, but at the end of the day, my eyes don’t feel swollen, and I don’t have a sore neck and it’s been so good to see the whole picture instead of the narrow focus.

The vision professionals’ claims are that around there is around 90% uptake of progressive/occupational lenses , so I’m in a small minority of folk who can’t tolerate them. So be it. My life revolves around reading in some form or another, so I need the right tools for the job.

I can’t help feeling there is a moral to this tale. So much of modern life is centred on specialisation, narrow focus; problem solving by zooming in on incidentals and minutiae instead of seeing the big picture and the wider implications; concentrating on a current issue, without understanding the historical context.

 If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence. George Eliot

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