Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Can I See You Now?

I started wearing specs at fourteen. I should have done it a couple years earlier, but I was a shrimpy geek, and I didn't want to add "four-eyes!" to the mix. Only reason I got them when I did was that I knew I couldn't pass the vision test to get my learner's permit to drive.

That was the trade-off. I got to drive, and I got to be a shrimpy four-eyed geek. 

In a couple years, I got contact lenses. These were hard and large, covered your eye and half your face, and were so uncomfortable as to be a miserable experience. I gained frown lines in my forehead from the constant stress by the time I was seventeen, and those turned out to be permanent.

Another problem was, I had to wear sunglasses, because, at least in my case, the contacts somehow intensified the light. I had to put on shades to walk to the mailbox or risk going blinder than I was. I felt like a vampire.

When I went to work as a lifeguard, I began buying Polaroid shades. Polarized lenses don't just darken, they also cut glare, and allow you to see under the surface of the water, which is an advantage if it is your job to save kids who sink and don't come back up. 

I got used to these, and they became my shades of choice, especially while driving. When I gave up contacts and went back to glasses, I had clip-on shades, and eventually, prescription sunglasses. Of course, getting out of the car and going into the market required a glasses swap, going and coming. Still does.

There came Transition™ lenses, a wonderful invention that allowed you to wear regular glasses inside but once you stepped into the bright sunshine, they darkened. Wonderful! Well, except that they were triggered by ultraviolet light, and for those of you who don't know, ordinary window glass stops nearly all of this, so the Transition lenses don't do squat when you are driving your car, unless you have the top or the windows down. Which is fine in the summer.

Since road glare is mostly what I need to handle when I'm out and about, Transitions aren't doing me much good. And even if I am in the yard or walking the dogs, the lenses don't polarize. That bright, blinding glare off the road? It turns into a darker, but still blinding glare ...

Ah, but here comes Transition Vantage™! These, supposedly, not only get dark outside, they also polarize! 

So I got online and had a look ...

Not so great, apparently, according to reviews. There are three drawbacks: 1) They still don't work behind glass. 2) The polarizing effect isn't very good. 3) They stay dark for a lonng time after you go inside. 

Oh, well. Won't get those ...

But Transition is trying to get there, and the latest from them is called Driveware™
This supposedly gives one several modes. They are always polarized. They are pale in dim light, but since they have the ability to react to both UV and visible light, they will darken inside a car, and once out of it, darken even more. They aren't designed for inside or night use, they never clear completely, but if it is gray and rainy and then the sun accidentally breaks through, they are supposed to adjust for that. As the light gets more intense, they go from a pale yellow to Serengeti brown to old copper.

Not perfect, but closer. 

I'll find out. I had to get new glasses and decided to spring for new sunglasses, too. I opted for the new lenses. A little more spendy than the ones I had before, but I could a) use the old frames, which are more or less aviator-style, and b) I got them at Costco, which makes them about as cheap as you can get glasses outside of going to the Chinese websites. 

My son has gotten into an Elton John thing with glasses, and he picks them up for twelve or fifteen bucks a pair online, which is outrageously cheap. He doesn't need but a single lens prescription yet, so he can get ten or fifteen pairs for what one of mine cost ...

When I had insurance that paid for it, I went to boutique eye place with all the bells and whistles, and my glasses would run six hundred bucks plus. Same prescription at Costco is less than half that. We are talking blended multi-focal, high-density, anti-scratch-coated Transition™ lenses.

The Holy Grail for glasses for me would be a pair that were clear indoors and that turned to shades appropriate to whatever brightness you find yourself in, and that polarize to adjust the glare. 

The best contact lenses I've tried still get uncomfortable when I'm tired; Lasix surgery might cure my nearsightedness, but I'd still have to wear reading and/or computer glasses. It's a pain in the butt to keep the suckers clean in the weather we have here, but there you go. 

One keeps searching. The Grail could be out there, somewhere ...

Editor's Note:

Got 'em. Couple photos, below, of how dark they are inside, and then after a couple minutes in the late afternoon sun.


Chris Robinson said...

You could try drop tacs... :)

Steve Perry said...

Soon as the lazy scientists get off their asses and invent 'em. I'm there ...

steve-vh said...

Good info Steve. had to switch to full time glasses two years ago after 30 odd years in Contacts. dr said my eyes were gettting two dry to float contacts anymore. those first glasses were $900 prior to insurance. figured if I was wearing them 12hrs aday, I could get good ones.
So I know exactly all the options you are considering. Hadn't heard of the Drivewear. Looking to get new glasses beginning of the year and I hate having to switch to polarized glasses.

AnnieB said...

Been wearing glasses, contacts, and back to glasses since high school (mumble-mumble decades ago when I was a long-haired nerd), and followed many of the same steps. Separate outdoor (single prescription) and indoor ("progressive"). Been in IT all my working life, and hated "tripping" over that line in traditional bifocals going back and forth from monitor to hardcopy. Due for annual eye exam next month, and will probably need new prescriptions, so many thanks for the "Driveware" info. Insurance won't cover the whole cost, but every little bit helps.