I have 20-10 vision. So that’s only half as good as 20-20, right? WRONG! 20-20 is what opticians try and PALM YOU OFF with, before guiding you to their most expensive “designer” frames – the ones that cost them TWICE as much as their “budget” frames – nearly $20 – for which you’ll pay $200.
20-20 means you can see letters 20 millimeters high at 20 metres distant. They are usually two lines up from the bottom of the eye-chart and the optician will invariably have underlined them in red. With 20-10, the letters are only TEN millimeters high and they’ll usually be the BOTTOM line. But when you complain that you can’t read THAT one, the optician will say, “Oh, NO-ONE can manage THAT one.” He LIES. I CAN. So can MOST people – if they have the correct prescription.
Of course, the eye-chart won’t BE 20 metres away. At most it’ll be 5, reflected through a mirror to double the distance – the actual chart being half the correct size. And even if you CAN read the bottom line, don’t imagine you’ll automatically end up with 20-10 vision. You see, 10 metres is NOT infinity.
Then there’s astigmatism. No-one KNOWS how many people have this condition – because few opticians bother to test for it. I didn’t discover I had it for FIFTEEN YEARS. Astigmatism is where you see stronger in one plane than another. It produces a fuzzy area on that chart that looks like a sunrise. A semi-circle of lines – rather like half a bicycle wheel. The condition is easily corrected by a standard lens.
So what can you DO? Okay, one: ask to see the optician’s “budget” frames. If he demurs, remind him that opticians are ten-a-penny. And two: get him to test you for astigmatism – ask for it by name and accept nothing less than the “sunrise” chart and make sure you can see ALL the lines sharply. Finally, three: once you have his lens gadget on and can see the sunrise AND that bottom line clearly with BOTH eyes – take it out into the shop and covering each eye one at a time, ensure that you can read the small print on signs across the STREET.
Don’t be afraid to be a damn NUISANCE. Doing an eye-test is EASY and frames and lenses are CHEAP. In short, the job of optician is money – LOTS of it – for old rope. Which is why there are so MANY of them. You are STUCK with your eye-sight, every second of every day. Make the MOST of it.
One last thing: if your optician tells you to give a less-than-perfect prescription TIME – that your eyes will get USED to it – grasp him firmly by his dangly bits and ask him if it hurts. When he wheezes “Yes”, tell HIM to give it time, he’ll get used to it…