Mono-a-Mono Vision, I Heart You


I’m a 37-year contact lens wearer. I first wore contacts when they were like Barbie-car headlights that you pushed into your eyes and if you left them on there a half-hour too long, you’d end up in the ER with gauze pads covering your eyes and taped to your face. Only when they were banned in all but Third World countries did I begrudgingly give them up and move to gas permeable hard lenses. I agreed to switch to soft, disposable lenses only when I heard there were crafts you could do with the old ones. (I had a hard time with the concept of throwing away your lenses after two weeks. I was also struggling with disposable razors and sour cream containers.)

As a result, my corneas are like that unrippable plastic sheeting that old people used to put on their sofas.

I am one tough old broad when it comes to my peepers.

But you should have seen how scared I was when I tried monovision contact lenses for the first time last week. I’ve got them on a trial basis, to see how it goes in anticipation of having monovision Lasik surgery. I was more afraid of trying the monovision lenses than I am of the surgery itself. And it involves props from Clockwork Orange and lasers.

For those of you who aren’t up on vision-speak, monovision is when you need help seeing distance and because you’re now old, you need help reading and seeing things close-up, too. Monovision glasses, contacts and Lasik surgery has you seeing out of one eye for distance, and out of the other eye for close-up.

“Your brain will adapt and pretty soon you’re eyes will know which one is supposed to work, depending on where you’re looking.”  That’s what I was told. 

The concept of monovision, the brain in general, and why I need to put on reading glasses on top of contact lenses are three related mysteries to me. I wasn’t really unhappy doing it my way but was worn down by my husband, who had monovision Lasik surgery earlier this year and you would have thought he had been given Colonel Steve Austin’s eyes. 

I put it off as long as possible and then I went for my consult last week.

I can’t explain why I was nervous about it. Maybe because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle seeing mono-a-mono and then I’d have to admit that my brain is inferior to my husband’s brain, which adapted swimmingly. I had heard that some people can’t do it.

“You’ll know right away,” Andrea from the eye doctor’s office said. “If you get up and start to walk and you get dizzy and nauseated, you’ll know you can’t do it.”

“But maybe if that happens, I’ll just have to keep trying. Maybe I’ll get used to them.” I was pathetically trying to be hopeful. You don’t understand, I wanted to say, my husband and I are very competitive. I’m doing this if I have to get a walker and strap an emesis basin to my wrist.

“Nah, you’ll know right away.”  Andrea is a party in a lab coat.

I was so scared, but I put them in. No dizziness. No nausea. I drove home and didn’t hit anything. 

Then I started to realize what my husband had been so ga-ga over all this time. I sat down at the computer and didn’t have to find a pair of reading glasses to see the type on the screen. I was able to walk to the mailbox and read the mail. I was like Barbara Mandrell, running around the stage picking up different instruments and playing them. Joyfully.

Taking pictures! I ran to my closet and got out my camera. I took a picture, then looked down at the tiny settings and could read them.

Piano! I ran over to the piano, sat down and played a little of “The Shadow of Your Smile” without readers. I could see the music notes and the keys.

Oh my god books! Picked up The Plague and read a paragraph in bad lighting without reading glasses and without holding it across the room. (I did get a little bit nauseous then, but that book is gross.)
Knitting! I can see the stitches and look up and see Jack McCoy scrunch up his face in that multi-use smile-scowl expression he is so good at. 

Recipes!  I can read the fine print. Shopping! I can look at an entire outfit and read the price tag without fumbling around in my purse for glasses. Restaurants! I could read the menu without donating a $20 pair of reading glasses to the busboy by leaving my token pair on the table between the candle and the ketchup.

This is very exciting. Now that I’ve got my big fear out of the way, the actual surgery is going to be a piece of cake. 

I’ll be able to read the bill and flee the jurisdiction.

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