But she changes from day to day...
August 11, 2015 3:52 PM   Subscribe

I am in my late 30s and have always been nearsighted/myopic. My prescription is -7.25 with (I am told a lot of) astigmatism. My vision is starting to change...I can see bifocals on the distant horizon.

Meanwhile, at the office, I am doing a lot of fine detail work (dissection--it's like embroidery), which I greatly enjoy and want to keep doing. A few weeks ago, for the first time, I had to take my glasses off to get the cut right. Some days I can't even decide where to put the thing I'm reading. It's not a question of not being able to do this stuff...it's a matter of making it pleasant and easy.

This seems to be the real change...I already had some "warning shots" starting at 34 or 35.

I am going to the optometrist tomorrow. I do not need medical/optometrical advice!

(1) How have you, personally, coped with these fluctuations? A friend suggested several different pairs of drugstore reading glasses on hand. Special lights? Special screens (or no)? Eyeball exercises...are they bunk?

(2) How the heck do I get the right glasses or contacts fit when my vision varies by the day or hour? (Let's leave aside some other medical problem causing the variation...if that's it, that's another question, one for a doctor.)

Thank you for your help!
posted by 8603 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
are you sure it's not how bright things are? in brighter light your pupils are smaller and the depth of field is greater - in other words, you can focus more easily. in darker light, the opposite is true, and that may be when you feel your eyesight is worse.

because of age-related loss of near-sight, i switched to varifocals. i guess they would also work if your eyes really are varying. the main problem may be whether they can be made with your prescription, which sounds pretty strong.

when you first get them (varifocals) they are disappointing. there's a lot of blurriness outside the "sweet spot", which you notice. but after a few months, they become quite natural to use and work well. unfortunately i need to make an appt to get tested for a stronger prescription...

(ps they work by having a different focal length at different angles - so you look through the glasses "lower down" to see closer, and "higher up" to see further. which usually corresponds well to where things are, so feels quite natural).
posted by andrewcooke at 3:57 PM on August 11, 2015

I cannot see the computer With bifocals. I had the doctor give me a prescription for straight reading glasses. I wish I could tell you what was special about the prescription but ordinary drugstore glasses are worthless for me. My prescription is 6.50 and astigmatism. Get your PD number so you can get stylin' with Zenni.
posted by BarcelonaRed at 4:00 PM on August 11, 2015

mini-threadsit: no, it's not the light (although I do notice that I need the best possible light nowadays). On the contrary, I am mostly working under really bright lights.

I can tell I need more contrast, too--pen is now easier to read than pencil.
posted by 8603 at 4:12 PM on August 11, 2015

I can see bifocals on the distant horizon, too. That's not surprising given that most of the things I can see are on the distant horizon. This is because I need bifocals.

I've found the gradual change irritating, so this thing you're experiencing where it changes daily sounds really frustrating. Maybe it boils down to you need trifocals? In any case, I wish you luck with the doc tomorrow.
posted by Don Pepino at 4:27 PM on August 11, 2015

I'd start with getting some generic drugstore readers and using those for close-work rather than keeping your regular glasses on. It's an inexpensive experiment and could really make a difference.

When I'm doing close-work, I set a timer to go off once every 45-60 minutes to take 5 minutes off to focus my eyes on something very far away (generally out the window). This helps my eyes get less fatigued throughout the day. When my eyes get fatigued, my vision changes and it gets harder to see and about 20-30 minutes to normalize again (with rest).
posted by quince at 4:30 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have genuine presbyopia by now (as well as lifelong significant myopia and mild astigmatism), but my close visions is still good enough to read the finest print on any box or bottle as long as I'm not wearing contacts or glasses, even "progressive" ones. Glasses that correct for distance only? Game over, man. Game over.

I get through my typical working day at a computer with computer glasses, where the top part of the lenses under-corrects slightly for distance -- which makes the monitor appear sharp enough -- and the bottom part works well enough to read most printed sheets of paper. But when I just sit down and read a book or a device, or if I intend to focus on printouts for work for a minute or longer without having to look at the screen, I take off my glasses. This is because even if my expensive glasses are freshly cleaned, I can still read much more comfortably with my naked eyes, although I have to hold the item a little closer to my face than before. If you see your close work best with the naked eye, keep on doing that until you genuinely need a set of magnifying lenses.

Are the day by day changes you're describing purely random, or do they show up after prolonged work? If you find that after you have been doing close work for a prolonged period that your middle and distance vision is blurry, this is quite common. Your eye will require a few minutes to adjust to the different focus point. So when doing close work, or when staring at a computer, see if you can remember to follow the 20-20-20 rule -- every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Other general advice: you are probably blinking less when you're doing close work, so your eye may dry out and get irritated more quickly. Try some good eye drops -- these are great.
posted by maudlin at 5:34 PM on August 11, 2015

I can't imagine drugstore reading glasses would work for you.

I think you might want to consider getting prescription glasses for exactly the distance that your work requires. That is, if you need to see clearly 12" from your eyes to the work for what you do, get prescription glasses made that do just that. They'll correct for the astigmatism too - when you don't have your glasses on now, the astigmatism is screwing up your vision even though you don't necessarily need the distance correction. Nothing fancy, the same prescription on the entire lens. And just wear them for the close work you do.
posted by BillMcMurdo at 5:51 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

Back in my late teens, a eye doctor told me I had a mild astigmatism and was very slightly far-sighted. I got reading glasses.

Which I never wore. I painted, I read, I did crazy detailed needle work and quilting, and I even painted miniatures. All without my glasses and with little issue.

Then I got a got in an office on the computer. It got a little harder to see, so I went back. Got a new prescription. A little stronger and was told, wear them or it gets worse.

Fast forward a decade and a half to the month I turn forty and I could barely see my new iPhone and had to read the kindle with the font almost maxed out. Quilting was done as more guess work and I even couldn't read the print on the age-defying face cream I was thinking I didn't need. Out of frustration I went back to the eye doctor and got a fabulous prescription for trifocals.

It is amazing the things I can see!! Books!! Stitches! Phone! Normal sized font on the kindle!

The trifocals took some getting used to, for example, I didn't realize I read with my head tilted slightly to the right. Which is effects how the trifocals work. But despite forgetting to take my glasses off before I take off my shirt or dealing with fogged up glasses, this has been awesome.

The tech for multi focal lenses is awesome now and no one knows I've got trifocals until I tell them. And I can fucking see. All the things. Not just the kinda faraway things, but the up close things, and the bits in the middle. Don't fear the focal. Embrace them.
posted by teleri025 at 6:06 PM on August 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I first developed presbyopia my opthamologist told me to slide my glasses for myopia down my nose. When that no longer worked she gave me a prescription for progressives and told me to point my nose at what I wanted to see.
posted by brujita at 6:27 PM on August 11, 2015

I feel your pain! Hormone fluxuations change my vision from moment to moment sometimes. Getting the right prescription helped a lot but isn't everything. I've had to make adjustments. I have one of those special lights that mimic the sun for detail work. I've also had to make adjustments to my background. If I am working from a pattern, I print the pattern on blue paper because I tend to hold my work in front of the pattern and white on blue is easier to see than white on white (I like to crochet with white thread). My walls are all painted real colors like blue and purple so that I even have contrast there, which I find to be very restful for my eyeballs. Since it sounds like you are doing this on the job, consider bringing in a black sheet to lay on the floor, so that you have at least one dark surface to rest your eyes on.
posted by myselfasme at 8:39 PM on August 11, 2015

Mini-update for future readers.

The optometrist (after some well-meaning mansplaining about how maybe I was imagining things) conceded that I am getting some (likely age-related) changes. ("The eyeballs of a 45-year-old woman," he said.) While my new prescriptions(!) come in, he recommended that I continue trying to focus at close range for as long as I can. Don't become dependent on the near vision glasses. Focus near, focus far, focus middle, exercise those somatic (voluntary) muscles. He suggests a real physical for the daily fluctuations, but I'm not ready yet--no history of any of the vision-changing problems.

My younger colleagues (as in 23) say the computer is doing them in, too. Naturally I am cutting screen time down as far as I can, and I will see if I can calibrate the monitor in some less-stressful way.
posted by 8603 at 8:15 AM on August 15, 2015

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