To See Differently

Two years ago a new optometrist recommended adding prisms to my eyeglass prescription in response to slight vertical misalignment in my vision. I was skeptical and made an appointment for another refraction with a doctor at the office that performed my cataract surgery. He confirmed slight double vision, but after attempting to make corrective adjustments with prisms he recommended against them. Their therapeutic value was uncertain, he concluded.

But the first optometrist was so insistent, when I returned to make my eyeglass order and the Varilux lenses came with satisfaction guarantee: The Essilor lab would make a new set should the prescription change—all within 90 days of purchase. I relented. The overall quality of the lenses satisfied so much that I decided to give my brain and eyes some time to adapt. But I never got to choose: The SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic made the decision for me, as my wife and I hunkered down during February 2020 and lockdowns started weeks later.

Today, I switched lenses, with a new prescription. Prisms are gone.

For my more recent refraction, I purposely returned to the same optometrist who recommended against prisms in late 2019. Initially, while conducting the exam, he thought to keep them. But, from further testing with my then current glasses on, he concluded—and I could quite literally see—that my eyes rebelled against them. So he wrote a prism-free script.

After shopping around, I returned to the optical shop where my eyeglasses were made two years ago. The office offered the best price that I could find locally for Essilor’s Varilux X progressive lenses—without changing frames. Still, rising consumer prices coupled with the post-pandemic economy meant buying clear and transition lenses for almost the same amount as two complete pairs in 2019. That said, I was thrilled, when compared to what other places charged. I had expected to pay twice as much, for half as much; elsewhere.

The new lenses were available today, and I made an appointment for mid-afternoon to have them fitted into my two existing frames. As expected, I saw double vision for awhile, and it comes and goes tonight. But that should pass. What matters more to me is improved clarity and the smooth visual transition between the three zones—distance, midrange, and reading. These progressives also provide wide peripheral view, which is one of my primary reasons for choosing the brand.

The next week or so should reveal whether I made the right choice or need to return to prisms. I hope to do without them.

Editor’s Note: Because information is too easily culled and misused, I choose to break away from past practice and not reveal the name of the optometry offices visited. I would love to promote these practices. But we live in perilous times, where grifting and social hacking rise and age makes me and my family more of a target. Sucks, doesn’t it?

I staged and shot the Featured Image using Leica Q2 Monochrom, today. Those are the same eyeglasses worn as I write this missive. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/1.7, ISO 2000, 1/60 sec, 28mm; 3:56 p.m. PST. I manually focused, using the dedicated ring around the camera’s Summilux lens.