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In addition to our 35th wedding anniversary, I have another 35th this year – thirty-five years of wearing contacts.  I began wearing glasses as a child, and switched to contacts in the summer of 1977.

My opthamologist that summer first tried me in soft lenses. They were easy to wear, and I could do everything except read in them. I could not focus on the page. Something about an astigmatism. Given that I was in law school at the time, reading heavy casebooks and writing briefs all day, this was a critical problem.

So I moved to hard lenses. I had to build up my eyes’ endurance to wear them all day, but in a month or so I was fine.  My only problem with the contacts was stairs.  Glasses and contacts refract differently at the edges, and I fell down a couple of staircases before I got the hang of focusing on the steps instead of glancing at them out of the corner of my eye. But my bruises healed.

I wore hard lenses for many years, then moved to rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses when that technology developed and my corneas began rebelling against the hard lenses.

A few years after I made the switch to RGPs, I hit my forties.  Most people develop presbyopia in their forties, as age begins to reduce the ability of the eyes to focus. I was no exception.

My opthamologist outlined my options – none of them good: (1) bifocal contacts, but the technology wasn’t quite there yet for eyes as bad as mine; (2) contacts for distance, with reading glasses for up close, which seemed to defeat the purpose of contacts; or (3) monovision, correcting one eye for distance and the other for up close. He recommended monovision, because continuing to wear RGP lenses would slow the deterioration of my vision. So I opted for monovision.

With monovision, I began to see everything clearly and in a fog at the same time. The right side of my world looked fine at a distance, and the left side was clear up close.  But everything always had a halo around it from the eye that wasn’t focused. And as my distance and up-close vision each grew worse, the halo effect became more pronounced.

But what I bothered me the most was that over time I became less able to see a computer screen.  Computer screens at arm’s length were not within the focal range for either my close-up or my far-away eye. And in the quarter-century between law school and my late forties, my reading moved from casebooks to email and Google. Reading books was less important than reading screens. So, contrary to my initial intent with monovision, I still had to resort to reading glasses over contacts. Only one eye could read the screen, but I still soothed my vanity by continuing to wear contacts.

Then I retired. Vanity is no longer important now that I am usually home alone. I began wearing my glasses most of the time as I pounded out essays and stories and novels on my laptop.

But I still wore the contacts for a few hours every day. I didn’t want my eyesight to deteriorate any faster than it was.

A few weeks ago, my left eye began refusing to tolerate the contact for more than an hour or two. I finally went to the doctor last week. No wonder I had problems – the contact was cracked! I hadn’t noticed, but the crack was clearly visible through the doctor’s scope. And I needed a new glasses prescription, too.

I’ve been waiting for this moment to come – the time when I needed to spend a lot of money on contacts and glasses. I had told myself at that point I would move away from the RGPs.

So I’m returning to glasses. I’m currently waiting for my eyes to revert to their natural state (whatever that is), then I will get new glasses. My daughter has told me she will help me pick out frames, so I don’t choose something that makes me look like an old lady.

The opthamologist has offered me soft contacts, and I’ll probably keep some around, though won’t wear them regularly.  I’ve tried them, and it takes me fifteen minutes to get each one in my eye. Way too much trouble.

Does anyone know the secret to putting in soft contacts?

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