Saturday, 2 November 2013

Glasses for knitting while watching tv

Yep, I'm definitely getting old, because I need bifocals. Or rather varifocals - bifocals without the telltale line - for people who don't want other people to know they are getting old. I need glasses for distance, for example when watching tv, but recently I've found I have to take my glasses off for knitting. Of course I've sacrificed clear tv rather than knitting.

This need for new glasses has put me in conflict with my old enemy, the opticians.

A few years ago I needed new glasses because the arm broke off my old pair, so I tried to buy some online. I sent in my prescription and was informed I couldn't use it because it was out of date. This was when I learned of the most idiotic law ever invented - that if I want to buy new glasses I need to have proof from my optician that I can see using my prescription.

Now I don't resent most government regulation, because I realise that we humans are usually idiots and when there is a chance to do something stupid and injurious we will jump at it. But this prescription requirement really infuriates me. I mean, these are my eyes, and I'm looking through them, I know whether I am seeing clearly or not. In fact, opticians only give me my prescription based on what I tell them. With a little instruction I could run my own eye test. It outrages me that I have to take an eye test every two years (if I want new glasses), even though my prescription has not changed in at least 20 years and if it did I myself would notice and go get a new prescription.

On top of which, you can get prescription glasses without a prescription - reading glasses, which are available online in a range from at least .5 to 4.0. My mother wore those little granny glasses while doing hand work for years. According to the Daily Mail they are extremely hazardous to the health, but I won't link to the article because the Daily Mail is the most disgustingly mendacious rag in existence and I refuse to contribute to their readership rates.

And then what about all the people out there who don't wear glasses but probably should - why isn't there a law requiring them to get tested? My husband needs glasses but refuses to wear them - he has a stigmatism and says they give him a head ache. When we are driving he always makes me read the street signs, which makes me suspect he rather does need glasses, but although I yell at him about it occasionally I have limited influence. And besides, who am I to say, perhaps he sees fine. He certainly doesn't drive erratically, and being able to read street signs is not really a good indication of eyesight, since most signs are so inconveniently placed or obscured that by the time you figure out where they are you have already driven past.

The last time I got glasses I actually photoshopped my old prescription to change the date. I thought it looked passable, but in the end I wimped out and got tested, because I'm ridiculously law abiding. So, my prescription is still within date, and when I went to Boots to get glasses I was told I could use it for new varifocal lenses.

How you chose your lenses: clearly false advertising aimed at getting you to spend more
money, since the round picture in no way indicates how they will look in oval lenses

So I spent 20 minutes trying on glasses, and another 10 minutes waiting to be served, but when it came time to order the lenses they changed their mind and told me I needed to get tested again. Because my prescription wasn't for varifocals, and additionally was within three months of expiring. The assistant said my prescription could change radically at any moment, so better safe than sorry. To which I responded "bullshit" (in the nicest possible way) and left.

To tell the truth, I had assumed I would need to get tested for varifocals, but when I checked with an online store it seemed they only needed my regular prescription. And after all, why not? All I need are lenses with my prescription on top and clear plastic below. I need them for knitting while watching tv, not for driving expensive, dangerous, heavy equipment. I just want a simple little pair of stinking glasses!

I'm tempted to get some granny glasses and tape them together into an ingenious tv-watching contraption. Or rearrange the furniture so I can sit closer to the tv. But realistically, my next step is to try to get varifocals online. And if they deny me, well, I'll just rant about it to everyone I know for a few more days and then I'll fold and get my eyes tested. Score 1 for the optician lobby, score 0 for FREEDOM!