The Eyes have it. Or not. Why does getting old mean I can’t read the menu?

May 29, 2012

Not that long ago, I could see all. Perfect vision. Unlike George Costanza, I was spotting letter boxes, not raccoons.

At my age, this was a rare thing. My friends were all needing help. In restaurants, and at work. Someone was dimming their lights.

It’s one of the things I now notice at funerals. Blokes you haven’t seen in years, wearing glasses to read the program. Looking older, just like that.

Everyone around me was getting reading specs. Of course, I teased them no end. As mates do. Until my day arrived.

Actually, it was my night. I’ve read the form guide on a Friday night for the best part of 30 years. Sad, but true. But this particular evening, I hit a snag.

Things were blurry. Eyes itchy. Was it Race 4 or 5? Had this nag won first up, or second up? I was either having a stroke, or my peepers were giving out.

Thankfully, it was the latter. Not long after, I was sporting my first pair of glasses.

The girls gave me great support. As soon as they stopped laughing. Colleagues told me earnestly how nice my frames were. I was chuffed by this. Until I realised that this is code in the optical world for ‘You look like my nerdy uncle.’

Any self-doubt disappeared, when I found how much they helped. Words jumped out at me again. No more headaches. I may have looked like Mr Magoo, but I could see.

There’s history here, too. Mum, bless her, battled serious sight problems up until her death. That awful condition, Macular Degeneration. Towards the end, she was unable to do her beloved crosswords and puzzles. So cruel.

The condition wasn’t without a laugh though. On one of her visits, we decided to have a seafood lunch. At the counter of the local fish shop, I asked her what she fancied. After some serious study, she announced that the large prawns looked delicious. They were indeed. Except they were lobsters.

Another time, we were at a Christmas concert. One of the big churches had organised an elaborate festive show. Complete with dressed up kids and camels.

Mum thought it was wonderful. She hugged the girls, who were much younger then, and pointed to centre stage, where the desert beasts had just wandered through with a crowd of helpers.

“Look girls, there go the Three Wise Men,” she exclaimed with excitement. They were, in fact, the blokes picking up the camel poo. That’s not to say they weren’t wise. Just not terribly blessed.

I’ve been tested for the dreaded disease, and so far it’s all good. Not even a hint that it could be around the corner. But there are other dramas.

Until recently, I had only used my glasses at work, and when reading newspapers or books. Everything else was fine. Not any more.

I’m struggling when it comes to preparing meals. The print on the packages coming out of my freezer is unreadable. Obviously the work of sadistic people in a Chinese lasagne factory.

Seriously, can anyone actually read that stuff? I can’t. After getting my microwave times wrong the first six times, I’m now wearing glasses in the kitchen.

The lighting in restaurants I go to is obviously on the blink. It’s kept so low you need ropes and handrails to find your table. This must be the reason I can no longer read the menu.

Can’t see a thing. So I go with ‘I’ll have what he’s having’. Which is fine, except if the fellow to my right is a fan of pickled herring.

The glasses now accompany me to any lunch or dinner engagement. I’m told it even looks sophisticated, whipping them out of my top pocket, to have a crack at the plonk list.

I’ve come to terms with my condition. There are plenty of others just like me. Don’t laugh at us. Your time is coming.

If, however, you are putting off the inevitable, remember these golden rules. Take care if the prawns look too big. And never applaud men who walk behind camels.