Those of you reading this column in the newspaper may notice something new. My picture, which has, heretofore featured me peering through my trusty bifocals has been replaced with a new shot. It’s not sheer vanity on my part, as I’ve never really liked any photo taken of me. Rather, it’s an attempt at accuracy, because I am, in fact, now de-spectacled, instead of bespectacled.
It all started when I sat on my glasses, transforming them into a twisted, broken pile that stoutly resisted my attempts at repair with duct tape, bailing wire and super glue.
Glasses have been a part of my life for some time now. I wore them off and on as a kid and into young adulthood, alway resisting full-time wear until it became apparent that the choice was to see or not to see, period. No huge deal until I started covering sports for the Star Courier and discovered the joys of photography in the rain while wearing glasses. But I had no choice, so I suffered through rainy football nights and misty baseball and track meet afternoons, all the while wishing something could be done to relieve me of my rain-spotted specs. My glasses had become less effective, too, especially at night and in any kind of inclement weather. The reflection from oncoming lights, especially when combined with rain or snow, made nighttime driving risky business for me and (sorry about that) anyone else sharing the road with me. I knew that there were surgical procedures to be tried out there, but also knew my insurance, which generally only covers diseases beginning with the letters u and x, and then only on alternating Ukrainian holidays, was unlikely to kick in for some elective eye treatment.
But then I remembered that my friend Kate, who is a registered nurse and, therefore, part of my vast legion of unpaid healthcare providers, had mentioned that my symptoms sounded a lot like I might have cataracts, a condition that is at least partially covered through some miraculous loophole. I quickly went to see Kewanee Ophthalmologist Dr. Napawan, a fine physician who, apparently, interrupted a budding career as a standup comic to go to medical school. Anyone who has visited his office will likely concur that the good doctor and his office manager/straight-woman Barb, make you feel welcome and optimistic regarding the outcome of their ministrations.
So I did it. I probably wouldn’t pick cataract removal and lens implantation over, say, a Caribbean cruise, but the bright lights and eyelid clamps were easily bearable thanks to a potent sedative cocktail that made wrestling bears, sky diving, or going over Niagara Falls in a barrel seem well within the bounds of reasonable activity.
After a brief recovery period for each eye, my vision began to improve. It’s not 20/20, but I can see better than I did before, and I’m not wearing glasses. The most noticeable improvement is at night, where I am no longer wondering what part of the ditch I’m in when I meet another car. The exception is reading and other close-up work, which still requires “cheaters,” but I buy them for a buck a pair, which allows me to leave them in virtually every room of our house for when I need them. At that price, I’m even considering dropping them off in some of the other places I go, too, or even distributing them to places I might visit, just in case.
But while the vision I use for much of my everyday life is improved, I still suffer from a sight-related condition that seems to strike men of any age. While I can see television, sporting events, high-calorie food items and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition just fine, I continue to struggle to view things like the spot on my tie, the clothes I left on the floor, the coffee cup I forgot on the counter last November, the color of my wife’s shoes and anything in the refrigerator that doesn’t fall out when I open the door. But it’s not my fault. As my spouse tells me, it’s a guy-thing that’s been going on since the earliest man failed to notice he was tracking in on the cave floor. It’s called, according to her, Male Pattern Blindness...and it’s a malady with no known cure.