Long & short sighted at the same time

I’ve been fairly short-sighted all my life … around -4.5 to -5.5 dioptres. Which is enough that you can’t even tell that there are adverts on the side of buses. We found this out when I was in my early teens, and I wore glasses until my early twenties when I first tried contact lenses. I wore those until my mid-thirties when I found I was spending so much time living on aeroplanes and swapping timezones that my eyes were just constantly tired and “scratchy”.

So I switched back to glasses, and apart from a brief fling with some daily disposables, which I didn’t think fitted very well, that’s where I’ve been ever since.

Except that in the intervening years I now have astigmatism in both eyes, and thanks to the passing of those years, I also have the onset of presbyopia too. This is where the crystalline lens in your eye becomes less soft, making it harder for the muscles in your eye to squeeze it into the shape that is needed for you to focus on nearby objects. This happens without exception to everyone in their early to mid-forties; some people are just better at putting up with it than others. However like most short-sighted people, I’m very fussy about my eyesight, and was finding my inability to get good close-to vision very frustrating.

Options are pretty much five-fold:

  1. Normal and reading glasses
  2. Bi- or Varifocal glasses
  3. Normal contact lenses & reading glasses
  4. One long vision and one reading vision contact lens
  5. Varifocal contact lenses

All have advantages and disadvantages. The first three require several pairs of glasses to enable you to cope with all circumstances – normal vision, close-to work, and sunglasses. The latter pair require that your brain be able to accommodate & compensate for the ways that the lenses work – something that some people apparently cannot readily do.

I most like the idea of the last option, which should provide pretty much total correction for my problems. Even better, CooperVision have recently created a version of this lens that provides astigmatic correction too, in a material which is completely transparent to oxygen, which means that there is significantly less problem with keeping the eyes in good condition while wearing the lenses from first waking to bedtime.

And so today I’m starting a trial to see how well they work for me, and whether or not I’m one of the people whose brain can work out how to look through the lenses to get the right visual correction, and whether that resulting vision will be clear enough to satisfy my rather fussy requirements. The trial will take about a fortnight, when I’ll head back to the opticians to see how well I’m getting on with them. At that point we’ll need to evaluate whether or not the results are good enough for me to live with long term. Otherwise we’ll have to try some of the other options.

So far the correction at close distances is superb. Reading is easy and comfortable. Suddenly I don’t need longer arms any more! However, the long distance vision is less good than I was expecting, with a lot of blurring. I guess this is because (with only 4 hours practice) my brain hasn’t quite worked out to best use the information that its being presented with yet.

So fingers crossed I can “get it”, as it will mean no need for multiple pairs of glasses, and the ability to wear normal (rather than insanely overpriced!) sunglasses again. Which will be nice.

5 thoughts on “Long & short sighted at the same time

    • Thanks for the pointer to the article. I’ve heard of this approach before, but I discounted it because I never coped well with hard lenses which I believe is what you need to wear to get this affect. Does sound an interesting approach though; get your vision correction from what amounts to almost a side-effect of the lens wearing!

  1. Hi. A decade on, how are your eyes now, with the benefit of your experience in the various options? And what would you recommend, now, please? I found your blog helpful, but would benefit from your observations by way of update. Thanks.

    • I don’t think it’s possible to recommend – the decision is just too personal. For me, none of the options are perfect.

      I struggle in the long-term with the brain-tricking that is needed with a distance/reader contact lens; I get tired eyes and headaches. Unfortunately the varifocal contact lenses essentially depend on that same trick, and so have the same downside for me.

      Multiple pairs of single-vision glasses give excellent results, but you have to carry them, And in my case, if I’m wearing distance correction glasses, I can’t see the car instrument panel while driving. So that’s out. And single vision contacts with glasses for reading have the same problem when driving. So they’re out too.

      Which just leaves varifocal glasses. So that’s what I have. The main problem with them are that you have to move your head, not your eyes. So they’re a bit inconvenient when actively looking from side to side, as when driving or playing sports. However, once you’ve adapted to them, the do basically work, and the vision is better than anything else I’ve tried. You need to go somewhere that will do the fitting well though – the measurements from the fitting are critical in getting the lens to work properly – far more so than with single vision lenses.

      The holy grail would be accommodating interoccular lens, where they surgically replace the lenses in your eyes with artificial ones, and attach the muscles that focus your natural lens to them instead. With custom made lenses to match the shape of my eye, that would basically give perfect vision that would outlast me. Hopefully by the time I’m old enough to need cataract operations, that will be an option, but for now I’m sticking with good quality varifocal glasses.

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