Thursday, March 28, 2013

Velo Vision

Focus
About a year ago, I started to notice that I couldn't see things in the distance as well as I used to. I could read and see up close just the same as before, but things far away were losing their clarity. I noticed this most of all while cycling. The landscape was not as sharp as it once was, far-away roadsigns were more difficult to read, faces of people riding toward me were harder to recognise. As someone who's always had perfect eyesight, I had no prior experience with vision loss and it took me a while to acknowledge what was happening. But finally I went to have an eye exam and the loss of "perfect" status in the eyesight department was confirmed. I was given a prescription for glasses that the doctor said I would need mostly "for driving."

Glasses
I expected shopping for glasses to be a nightmare, for the same reason finding a decent pair of cycling sunglasses had been a nightmare. But I underestimated modern technology and our neightbourhood's offering of optical shops. Picking up friends' glasses in the past, I remember them being heavy. But apparently eyeglasses today can be made extremely lightweight - with high-tech plastic and titanium frames. There is also enormous variety in shapes and sizes. I had no problem finding some that fit my face and weighed next to nothing. 

Glasses
With cycling in mind, I got a pair with plastic frames and photochromic lenses. They cover a good part of my face, and the lenses turn dark in the sun, but clear at night. I have already worn them on a couple of rides and the fit is very comfortable. But wearing corrective lenses will take some getting used to! Everything in the distance now looks unnaturally sharp, or hyper-3-D. My feel for how close or far away objects are is a little disturbed by this, but I am assuming my brain will adjust eventually. 

Focus
Another thing that's happening, is that while the glasses correct my far-away vision, they do so at the expense of making things blurry up close. On the bike, this means that I can't really see anything that's directly in front of me or at handlebar level (i.e. the cycling computer on my roadbike) unless I take them off or look underneath the lenses. I am still working out how to adapt to this. Meanwhile, it's a relief to see clearly at a distance again. 

64 comments:

  1. Maybe you should get a second pair but with bifocal lens this time so while riding you can more easily read your directions during brevet riding season.

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    1. This is all very new to me. The doctor said I did not need bifocals, since only my distance vision is impaired. But I guess what you are saying is that the bottom part can be non-corrective?

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    2. Yes. I've done this myself. One pair is a single lens, but another has bifocals so I can work w/o having to constantly take the glasses off and drop them or lose them or have them hanging around my neck on those silly strings...I now mostly wear the bifocal pair but some activities I can get by with the normal lens pair. The bifocals are seamless which means it appears that there's only one lens.

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    3. This could also be distortion from the lenses your using. With optics in my experience quality and value come into play.

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    4. http://uk.oakley.com/halfjacket

      only the half jacket 2.0 is retailing new now, they where very close when we had them both together. http://uk.oakley.com/custom/halfjacket2.0

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  2. You should try progressive lenses next time. They will either have reading glasses at the bottom or be basically non-corrective, but the transition will be invisible. You will need to see the handlebars, the bicycle, light switch, etc.

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    1. This. I gave in and got progressive lenses this year and it's awesome. I'm only barely nearsighted -- I pass DMV eye exams without glasses. At bicycle speeds it really is a non-issue but I do very occasionally need to drive and cars are deadly weapons -- your best possible vision is an requirement.

      The progressive lenses mean that I can wear my glasses and see far objects in focus and also read or knit without taking them off. People said they would be difficult to get used to, but I put them on and they rocked.

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  3. Hi Velouria,

    Nice blog; very practical and enjoyable.

    Here's one from CBS that is archive-able. [I'm not too keen on the big networks but sometimes they get something right]

    Good info for anyone who will be making these kinds of purchases as a matter of course: STICKER SHOCK: Why are Glasses So Expensive? - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voUiWOGv8ec

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  4. Unfortunately for you, you are also going to soon experience the bane of my all-weather commuting. Glasses fog up; get covered in rain drops; and just generally suck in any precipitation. Also, they easily fog in many conditions. Usually, the fog is only an issue at stops. Once you get moving, the wind clears them. But rain really is the worst!

    I have started to prefer the risk of not having amazing distance vision in the rain over the inability to see. I have also considered contacts, but like you, I lose some close-up abilities and I wouldn't be able to look under the lenses with contacts.

    One thing that helps a little is using some of the sprays to reduce fogging. I recently bought Cat Krap. It seems to work well enough but it's expensive. Someday, I'll try the cheaper stuff and compare.

    Good luck with the glasses. I look forward to hearing about how you fix this all-too-familiar issue (at least to me)

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    1. Cycling (would you like some?) PeppyMarch 28, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      Cat crap is really the best.

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    2. Oh yes, fog up, smear up, frost up! If my eyes were good enough I would not wear them for cycling day to day, but when the weather is bad enough, I do take them off and hope for the best.

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  5. I see bike-related posts in the future.

    Oh blimey I'm getting old-I wouldn't be able to find my hands if they weren't attached.

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  6. I can't help but giggle a bit reading this. I've needed glasses most of my life (for distance, not reading close up), and I remember the first time in adulthood that I actually started wearing them - as I was supposed to be doing all along. I recall that same feeling of people looking unnaturally sharp and defined. I could see the outlines of leaves on trees, etc. It disturbed me (and actually gave me headaches) until I got used to it. Over time, it's become much more normal to "see."

    There are a plethora of options out there for glasses, thankfully... nothing like what I remember from my childhood. Glad that you found some that work well for you. :O)

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    1. Yup I've gotten headaches after wearing them. The thing is, I am not supposed to wear these glasses all the time - only when "driving" and other activities that require seeing things in the distance. I guess this means it might take me some time to get used to them.

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    2. If you're like me, you'll start to get lazy about taking them off and soon you're just wearing them more frequently than prescribed.

      The headaches should diminish in time, but I feel for you during the transition period. Hang in there... it will get better.

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    3. I first got glasses when I was 25 (short-sightedness) but didn't start wearing them all the time until I was in my early thirties. The feeling of weight and weirdness of super-sharp but slightly distorted vision took a while to go, but they do in the end- it is like getting used to wearing a wristwatch.

      Riding in the rain and cold sucks though. fortunately I can see well enough without my glasses, but i feel for anyone that can't do without.

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  7. Have to agree with Jwink. Glasses while cycling can be a curse, depending on the weather.

    I have also never found a pair or an optician has never been able to adjust anything I have ever bought to actually sit properly on my nose when in the drops. They always slide down my nose.

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  8. Near sighted as well. I wear glasses cycling, at the movies, and the few times I do drive.

    Light weight is critical for cycling. Riding long distance with heavy glasses irritate ears and nose. My Rx sunglasses are Oakley Ti, regular glasses Nikon Ti. Ti frames are durable as well as light. I've changed lenses on both three times as my Rx changed.

    Like Jwink3101 I've found the best way to handle the rain is to take the glasses off and slow down.

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  9. I'm not sure I have much use for photochromic (not sure what's going on, my eyes seem to have a wide range of F-stops compared to other people I know -- I'm happy in the bright, read in the dark) but I'm a huge fan of polycarbonate lenses. I did a header 15 years ago while ice-skating, smashed my glasses into the ice hard enough that they tore a nice cut in my face, and I continued to wear those same glasses for another year. Every once in a while I get a stick or limb to the face while riding, and I love my glasses all over again each time that happens.

    Polycarbonate also blocks some of the bad wavelengths, don't recall which, and you can get a coating for the others. Wearing clear glasses with UV filter is part of my long-term plan to avoid cataracts; the glasses filter the UV, AND my iris shrinks down tight, belt-and-suspenders for me.

    I was unable to make my peace with progressive lenses, but took to bifocals like a duck to water. Absolutely no problems, brain seamlessly adjusts. I did ask for a "wide window" because I work a lot on a laptop and I want the whole screen to always fit in my near vision. The two problems with progressives were that the good-focus patch was too small, and squares weren't square.

    I do think about laser eye surgery every time I have to spend much time riding in the rain or snow.

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  10. I've worn glasses since I was about 8 (IOW, for about half a century), and needed them before that. O.o It DOES take some time to get used to new lenses. I also have a strong prescription.

    I'd be surprised if you really needed bifocals at your age. I didn't need anything like that till I was in my 40's. Sometimes when they're doing your eye exam, it's easy to get a little sidetracked. I've done this in the past. When they're clicking through the lenses in the machine (the "Which is better, A or B?" routine), if you go for the SHARPEST IMAGE POSSIBLE, you might end up with lenses that are a little too strong for you. That can result in the feeling that things are unnaturally sharp or hyper-3D. And if your lenses are too strong, it might impair your ability to see things closer up too.

    And there's also the possibility that the lab that made your lenses made them wrong too. I once had to send back lenses **3 TIMES** because the lenses were wrong. It happens.

    Don't be afraid to go back to your eye doctor and ask him if the lenses are correct. They have ways of checking the lenses in the office, and they can even re-examine your eyes if need be.

    Glasses and lens-making technology HAVE come a long way. And your eye doctor can help if you're not happy or comfortable with your vision.

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    1. I don't think the lenses were made too strong, because the distance vision through them is just right for seeing curves and road signs ahead when on the bike. They're just totally wrong for close-up vision, which did not need correcting to begin with. This is why the idea of having uncorrected glass on the bottom and corrected on top sort of makes sense.

      "I'd be surprised if you really needed bifocals at your age."

      Basically what the doctor said initially. But perhaps he did not understand how exactly I planned to use the glasses (even though I explained that I rode a bike instead of driving). Well, I am going to give myself another week to get used to them, and if the weirdness persists will get in touch with the Dr. and discuss what I'm experiencing.

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    2. Basically, you are suffering the beginning stages of presybyopia (old people eyes) where the lens of your eye is losing its ability to accomodate ( change focus). So with the glasses on for far distances, your eye can no longer focus up close.

      I'm much older than you but first noticed this problem in my 30s when I had to start take off my distance glasses to read very fine markings on tools. Eventually I had to go to progressive lenses that are essentially clear on the bottom so I could see the instrument panel on my car when driving. And eventually, I won't be able to read even with my glasses off and will have to start wearing progressives that magnify on the bottom or switch to reading glasses for reading.

      Good luck!

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  11. Christopher FotosMarch 28, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Yes, V, per a comment above, you should not have to take glasses off, or on, to account for distant or close vision. When I got my first glasses years ago, because I was nearsighted, it did not affect my reading at all. Only needed the bifocal approach much later in life. I'm not sure if progressive lenses (which I use, and love) are the answer for you, but something's likely off in either your prescription or the way they approached your vision correction.

    I remember the first time I realized my vision was going--using binoculars, everything seemed unnaturally sharp!

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  12. Christopher FotosMarch 28, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    I've had reasonable success with multifocal contacts, fyi, which is my preferred response to biking in the rain or fog.

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  13. Welcome to the world of old people ;-)
    The modern bifocal is called "progressive" (no line) and will correct for near and distance. That is what you should have based on what you have described. Here in RI I found it difficult to get a nice pair of progressive sunglasses made that looked good for cycling so I had a pair made by a place in Colorado called "Sports Optical". Not cheap but well worth the price if you cycle all the time, which i do.

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  14. Graduated bifocal lenses solved this problem for me. You need to be fitted by a doctor who is very thorough and precise because it's a fairly complicated prescription. The lenses are like any others in that they can be coated to deal with glare, etc. It did take me a couple of days to get used to them, but after that, no problem.

    Finian

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  15. You're correct that the brain will compensate for the seemingly over-sharp distance vision. I started wearing specs in fourth grade (my friend is an eye doctor and frowns upon my use of the word "glasses"), and that effect is common with any new/updated prescription. But I'd be concerned that your handlebar area is somewhat blurry. You seem too young to have the kind of focusing problem associated with the need for reading glasses (whoops, I said it) or bifocals. Perhaps you're being over-corrected. Nothing should be blurry unless it very is close to your face. For example, words on your computer screen should look clear even with your specs on. I hope you figure it out. Best of luck! -Darren

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  16. Sorry, it's just part of aging and our techie age of laptops, looking at things on tiny smart phones and tablets too much. Do your parents have glasses? I have worn glasses most of my life, and must discourage you from wearing glasses if your vision is just a bit off. My step daughter recently got glasses because she could not see the black boards on her first day of university, so got glasses, but also feels her eyes are getting worse with the glasses which is what my dad said when I was ten and got glasses. Kids for example are still growing and can temporarily need glasses. He did not agree with me needing glasses, but my mom won out and we just put it down to bad genes.
    Glasses are a very expensive road to go down until necessary.
    There are eye exercises you can do, and spending so much time outdoors should actually keep your eyes sharp, as it is one of the main principles of natural vision improvement. I can't say my eyes have gotten worse because of cycling, have cycled for years. My eyes even improve some years when I get tested! I do read alot which is sadly just one of those things that lead to myopia.
    My advice would be to only wear glasses when you are going to see a movie or doing something where you know your vision is weak enough to be a problem. You don't need 20/20 to legally drive, but if you feel you are having trouble with road signs glasses would help on brevets and the like.
    I gave up on modern glasses, having worn through many pairs of plastic frame glasses. They do not hold up for very long and am certain the quality has gone down. I wear antique gold rimmed glasses. I am near sighted, very near sighted, so have to wear them unless I am reading a book. I can ride a bike without them, but only if I don't need to read signs, and stick to quiet roads...and I can't see debris either....I can walk around without them on, but details can be a issue. I will sometimes spend an entire day at home, out on the property without even realizing I do not have my glasses on.

    If the optometrist said glasses just for driving, then stick to that. Oh and no bifocals!!! you are in your early 30's for goodness sake, nobody wants bifocals! I dread the day....my mom has trifocals I think...something to look forward to.
    If I had the money I would have the laser surgery, maybe by the time that happens the technology will have taken another leap forward.

    don't be discouraged, if your vision is just a bit off, you can improve it again!

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  17. Well... I have a bad astigmatism and have worn glasses since I was 4 years old. But it's only been in the past few years that I've experienced the "can't see clearly close up" syndrome - which will only get worse the older I get. Sigh.

    Anyhow, I've been putting it off, but a trip to the eye doctor is overdue. I'm thinking I'm probably gonna have to experiment a bit to find something that works for me. My plan is to get the doctor to give me several different prescriptions one for long distance, one for close up and one for bifocals/progressive.

    There's an online store called Zenni optical that has ridiculously cheap glasses, but you need to know your pupilary distance (the distance from the center of one pupil to the center of the other) in order to order them online.

    Anyhow, my plan is to experiment with different options and see what works. So we'll see...

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  18. I recently had a pretty large change in my prescription. After about a week of wandering around with screwed up depth perception and a mild headache I've finally adjusted to my new glasses and am incredibly glad to have them. As far as the up-close issues go, maybe getting bifocals could fix that!

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  19. Sorry you need glasses, but they are a great way to accent your wardrobe. definitely try progressive lenses if you can. They can really help out. Some places offer a anti-fog coating for glasses so that's something to look into too.

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  20. Oh and another tip..... Glasses can get expensive and unless you can afford a new pair every year or even 3 years, many people will hold onto a prescription for years, and only wear the glasses when necessary-driving, riding bike, seeing movie or play, or something that requires clarity. My husband has worn the same glasses for over ten years which is a bit much as they are scratched up and can barely see. I'd like him to get his eyes tested just to see if it actually kept his eyes from getting worse.
    I know a rather eccentric woman who just has her glasses on the top of her head like a head band and only puts them on to drive or read some fine print.
    I know a woman who also improved her vision with exercises and pin hole glasses to the point where she got a very reduced prescription....but vanity won over and she wears contacts which means she can't just take them on and off as needed.
    Contact lenses aren't as great as the advertising would lead you to believe, that it is an option.
    Glasses really do change things, they are heavy on the face unless you can get the super light titanium things, you always have to be careful(I have broken so many pairs as a kid, even as an adult) and it distorts the way you perceive space.

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  21. The Oakley prescriptions are really nice black in the original half jacket frame, (as opposed to the newer half jacket 2). Two pairs, one with clear Rx lenses and the other with transitions Rx lenses are a really great solution.

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  22. Does it appear you are walking IN the earth? I mean that the ground is at waist height? I remember this sensation when I first got glasses.

    Your brain will adjust soon to the new reality of the world. You will use your neck more to read your map or odometer.

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    1. The opposite, like the ground is too far away. I have to suspend disbelief when stopping or getting off the bike, because it feels like I have to jump into an abyss in order to reach the asphalt.

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    2. Long years ago (1973, I think) I got a pair of aviator glasses. With my prescription, I felt like I was walking uphill for about 4 days. But your eyes and brain adapt.

      There was a story some years ago about an experiment done where people wore glasses that inverted what they saw. They got used to that too, to the point that some could even ride a bike. That boggles my mind.

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  23. Titanium frames glasses need to be matched with a titanium framed bike :-)

    I’ve worn glasses most of my life. One small advantage when riding – even those short rides to the shops - is that your eyes are always protected from bus and dust.

    T

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  24. I am now progressively bi-focalled, mostly for work. And even that is turning out to be problematic.

    A year or so ago, my aging brain-mind-body thing said, "Finally, dude, lose the cyclocomputers, dude." So I did. Removed them. Know what? Not missed...I don't even bother to look for them any longer. There's something else.

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    1. I've actually been mostly riding without a cyclocomputer, but I will start using it again once I go on fast group rides and rides requiring gps. When it comes to computers I don't like to feel like I am addicted to it, but it can be a useful tool on many occasions.

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  25. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iog7dU6g9lQ

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    1. It's funny how eyeglasses have become a sexy accessory over the past few years. I guess it's part of the whole geek chic thing.

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  26. I'm wondering if you are experiencing early presbyopia, which is when your eye loses the ability to change easily between distal and proximal focus. This happens with age, and the muscle in your eye that allows you to change focus begins to harden and lose elasticity. This is when people start to need reading glasses. This is not to say that you need reading glasses. You said you can read just fine, just not without your distance correcting lenses. But the fact that the focal distance increased by your new glasses is causing you reading difficulties with them on, suggests that it's beginning. Normally the eye should adjust perfectly between distal and proximal focal planes.

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    1. I don't think so, just regular near sightedness. Definitely do not need reading glasses.

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    2. I just had my vision checked and my doctor said that some of us do experience near sightedness as you describe. It happens during a certain age range, beyond which you are likely to keep your 20/20 or 20/15 vision or whatever you started with.

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    3. I understand it is extremely typical to get either "reading glasses" (for mild farsightedness) or "driving glasses" (for mild nearsightedness) when in your 30s-40s. In both cases, they are specific to these types of tasks and not for constant use, no big deal.

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  27. I hope your vision is not as bad as the top photo suggests, that's more than a mild case of nearsightedness!

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    1. No : ) I should have included a "dramatisation" caption.

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    2. Before I got glasses in fourth grade, I often squinted hard in order to see the blackboard from my seat in the back of the classroom. Turns out squinting gave me tremendous depth of field, just like stopping down to f22. I'll never forget the ride home wearing my first pair of glasses. With everything in such sharp focus, it was dazzling

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  28. In the last year or so I've had to admit to myself that my eyesight, which I always took great pride in, is going to hell. I used to be able to identify planes no one else could even see, easily read all but the very bottom line of the Doctors office eye-charts(I may even have gotten most of it right. Who knows,they never tell you much, their private information about your eyes an' all that and why do YOU need to know anyway Mr Dizzy?), I could also shoot open sighted rifles like I was doing it on purpose and just generally show off whenever the opportunity presented itself. No more.

    I can't even draw without reading glasses anymore, which just annoys the crap outta' me. Now whenever I leave the house I'm not only grabbing my little moleskien sketchbook, a mechanical pencil and 2 different width black ballpoints, but those stupid birth control glasses that no one was EVER going to see me wearing.

    It's all vanity I know, and while I already knew I was no longer that youthful, perilously handsome guy that I never REALLY was but could just about convince myself I was if I squinted just right in the mirror, now I just see a middle aged guy with pig-bristle eyebrows and a dissapointed look squinting back at me. "Oh hell, Grampa Porky's unibrow. Nice."

    On top of that, now I'm going deaf as well. If I'm not actually deaf as a post, I am as bad as the grumpy old dude who dug the hole for the post while muttering about how touchy ever'body is all the damn time now and I wasn't effing shouting but if they want I'll damn well start shouting directly, buncha' ignernt punk kids...
    If I just had some hair maybe I could grow it down over my ears and cover up the dead flesh toned hearing aids I'll be treating myself to in the ever nearer future.

    My wife on the other hand still suffers from acute hearing, perfect vision and strong white teeth. To sleep at night she has to wear eye shades if the moon is bright, a little plastic mouth-guard to keep from grinding her nice sharp teeth, and earplugs to damp out my "snoring" (I don't snore obviously, I think my tinnitus is probably what she's hearing, it's certainly the loudest thing in the room for me). It's like our own private sensory deprivation chambers, which it's nice for us to be able to share, don't ya' think?

    Spindizzy



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  29. Velouria, my experience was similar to yours when I first got glasses in 6th grade although I'm confident you did not have to hide in the cloak closet of the classroom to because of embarrassment! Now, I have a reading contact in one eye and a far-distance contact in the other. Works great! Thank you for sharing. Jim Duncan

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  30. I have to use two glasses - one for distance and one for close up. My Mom says she couldn't ride a bike because of her bifocals. I haven't tried. I can see my handlebars well enough. Changing a tire would require my close-up glasses.

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  31. Watch out with those photochromic lenses.

    Upon coming inside those pince-nezzes give you a darstardly Carlos the Jackal look.

    Make you look right shifty.

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  32. I am way ahead of you chronologically so this also has happened to me. But the irony is I have lost all 3 pairs of my prescription lenses while biking (my prescription is for reading, or seeing anything closeup)so I don't wear them when riding, they go in my pockets. I seems that when I pull my food out to eat, the glasses went flying too, and in one case they fell of the front of my jersey. I am sans subscription now!

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  33. Sorry, not vision related, but which bike is this in the pictures?

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    1. It's a mixte prototype designed by me and made by a local builder; the bike does not really exist as such

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    2. Ah, okay, thanks, I didn't remember seeing a mixte in your photos before, that explains it. Cute glasses choice btw.

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  34. Take the advice of the first comment made. I'm surprised the optical store employee did not make this suggestion. It would have saved you from buying a second pair.

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  35. I've worn glasses for 55 years and have had no luck with the plastic lenses since they scratch easily and with biking, it makes it worse. If it's windy/dusty with stuff flying around, I've noticed damage, so I went with glass lenses...a better correction and no scratching. They are heavier, yes, but the trade off of not looking at scratches is worth it for me. I'm hoping you don't have this problem.

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  36. I think somervillain is right...If your eyes are not correcting from far to near with the new glasses something else might be going on. For decades I've been mildly nearsighted but wore my glasses constantly, even while reading, with no problems. When I discovered that I had to take off my glasses to read I went in for a check-up. Now, I've got progressive lenses and all is well.

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    1. The doctor said that it simply might take some time to adjust, and to give it a week. It's been a few days, and it seems he is right. I can see much better up close now with the glasses on. I will give it a few more days and see whether it continues improving. I am open to possibilities, but don't want to jump to conclusions.

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    2. Indeed! I agree completely. Just saying the body changes over time and finding ways to compensate and adjust is part of the adventure. :)

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    3. Yes, everything new requires a bit of time in order to adjust.

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  37. Good thing you are a photographer in the era of autofocus cameras. Vision problems were a big issue for people trying to focus an old SLR where you had to be able to determine when the image in the viewfinder was as clear as it could be. For that reason, I tended to stick with the old Rangefinder camera. In my Leica M3 focusing is done by superimposing double images.

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  38. If you are just nearsighted and your eye-muscles learn to adjust, I can recommend contact lenses for cycling and most other sports. Contact lenses gives you a full field of vision, which is very useful on a bike.
    Do use bike glasses to protect your eyes from dust if you wear them though, eyes with contacts are more sensitive to particles getting into them.
    I have -6 diopters so I can see around 30 cm clearly without correction. Biking with contacts is both safer and more comfortable (for me) than biking with glasses.
    The 1 month variety of soft contact lenses stay good for a long time if you do not use them all day so it isn't that expensive.
    It tends to take a bit of time to get used to putting the contacts in and taking them out though.

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