Health: Why Our Eyes Change in Our 40s

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My grandmother’s original Bakelite frames. She had it going on!

I distinctly remember the first time I could see clearly. I was 10, and I stepped outside the optometrist’s office on Lexington Avenue and saw that buildings had edges. They no longer blurred into the sky like a smudged painting. The city looked like pictures in books, and on postcards! It was a kind of elation, akin to a first taste of flourless chocolate velvet cake, or a first orgasm, or a first roller-coaster ride.

Every single day of my life since then has been helped with glasses or contacts in order to see more than 4 feet from my face, but I’m incredibly nearsighted, and can read you everything on a penny 2 inches from my eyes. I took solace in this and considered it a kind of superpower.

However. A few months ago I realized that I have to hold menus further away in dim restaurants. I can’t cuddle down with a book wearing my contacts. And I have to sit exactly so in order to see my computer screen. So I visited my incredibly earnest and wise eye man, Dr. Korth.

He rummaged through lens combinations and asked me to read excerpts of Benjamin Franklin’s biography in small and large type. He painstakingly flipped lenses back and forth to see which worked best. And he finally announced that indeed, as with many of us in our mid-40s (“40licious,” I corrected him) as my far-away vision is sharpening, it’s sacrificing my close-up vision. “Perhaps this is a holdover from cave days … if I can’t run as fast, I’ll need to see better?” I wondered.

He made a proclomation as he handed me a set of new lenses to test. “You might have to give up some of your overall long-vision power in order to see better close up.”

Which makes perfect sense, in so many ways. Sometimes we need to let go of the very long-term focus so that we can really see what is right in front of us. Right now.

Vanessa McGradyHealth: Why Our Eyes Change in Our 40s

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