Vision Correction

I am not happy with current technologies for correcting my eyesight. I've tried most of them, and they come up short for me. I am probably fussier than most.

I am near-sighted (about -7.0 diopters), slightly astigmatic, and need some prism correction. I do a lot of computer work, a lot of reading, and some important close-up work. I also like to star-gaze. And the lenses are getting old and stiff.

I have tried bifocals and continuous lenses (Varilux). The latter have a fairly small sweet spot, and a lot of distortion over the rest of the lens. I have tried standard bifocals, and my current pair, with the magnification section moved up a non-standard distance. I had to convince the optician that I could still drive safely. The bifocals leave me with my head leaning back too much for at some computer terminals. Half the lens is fine for long distance, and half OK for reading, with the head leaned back some. I still take my glasses off for the close stuff, and even reading tiny text. Myopia is wonderful for close work, and I don't want to give that up, which is why I have rejected laser surgery. I'd lose the myopia, but still need glasses for at least reading, and certainly the close stuff. If I were twenty year old, I'd do the laser correction in a heartbeat.

Contacts have the same problem as laser correction: I still need some correction for close work. But I may revisit this decision if the following doesn't pan out.

The plan: flip-ups

I really want distance correction, for driving and general outdoor use, and an easy switch to either intermediate or reading distance, or something in between. This gives me a full lens at the setting I need, not the half-glassed solution my current bifocals. The flip-ups are always there, ready for the shorter distance. They may look a little weird, but I don't care if I look good, I care if I see well.

Flip-ups should in principle be a cheap addition to regular glasses. Once the main glasses correct for my weird eyes, the adjustment to closer distances ought to be a pretty standard (read cheaper) lens.

I took this problem to my local Guild Optician (Rizzo) in Bernardsville. Apparently flip-ups used to be common, many years ago. It was a challenge for him to find a solution, but there was one possibility right in stock in the store; flip-up sunglasses:

Magna Flip

glasses from Japan, by the Charmant Group. The flip-up device is not the hinge I was expecting, but a couple of powerful magnets. The flip-up part is polarized sunglasses, and comes right off the frame. They seem to be gone now.

My optician has ground reading lenses (+1.5) and installed them. One could actually have a range of powers, I suppose.

So how are they?

I like them. The experiment is working pretty well. The extra lenses make the assemblage a bit heavy, and I will take the reading frames off when in extended non-reading mode, such as driving, when the sunglasses should be more useful.

They certainly look geeky, but I don't care. I love having the full lens for distance or reading. There are two extra surfaces to keep clean, so I have to keep an eye on cleanliness, so to speak. There have been incidents were the reading lenses have be knocked off. I had to learn to be careful putting on a coat or shirt, and high winds are a bit of a problem. I am sure I will lose the reading part sooner or later. I will probably buy a spare.

Total cost: about $550.

Update, November 2009

I am not wearing glassesses these days. There are two problems: first, the magnetic flip-ups are no longer available. Did I have to buy a lifetime supply? They certainly worked well enough, except when the wind blew the flip-ups off my face.

Secondly, I was on-call for strike duty this year. My assignment involved working with wiring, while wearing safety glasses. This works fine with no glasses, if the wiring is close enough, and that's what I do when wiring at home. But I can see things greater than six inches away, and there's plenty of need to do that on a telephone CO wiring frame.

I am using bifocals at the moment, and am not happy about it.