Vision -- 06/19/13

Today I thought I would talk about vision -- not metaphorical vision, just plain old 20/20 vision.

Unfortunately, the last time I had 20/20 vision without assistance was when I was in 4th grade.

Also unfortunately, I didn't know this until the middle of 7th grade.

I failed a test because the questions were written on the blackboard and by the time I deciphered each question, I was far behind everyone else and handed in a paper with fewer than half the questions answered. Fortunately, the teacher, although fairly strict, was capable of wondering "why" -- and so she sent me down to the school nurse's office and asked to have my vision checked. The answer: my vision was terrible, somewhere around 20/100 or 20/120 (can't be exact, it was a long time ago).

I had had no clue -- I was a kid -- and it wasn't like a switch had been turned one day and my vision got bad -- this was a process that had gone on for a couple of years. (This is the essence of the boiling frog idea: put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it will jump out; but put it in a pan of cold water and gradually heat it and the frog will not perceive the danger and will sit there and be cooked.) My vision had gradually degraded, but slowly enough that what I saw looked normal to me and I didn't have a clue. (Note that 12 year old males are often lacking in the clue department.)

At some point my Mom got involved in this. I really do not recall how, but I recall her being in school with the nurse and the principal and she was asking how my vision problems had gone unnoticed in the classroom, especially since she knew that the schools gave students annual eye exams. Mom was generally very calm and lady-like, but let there be a problem with one of her cubs and she could be a real Momma Bear. The nurse pulled out my records to show that it was carefully recorded that I had tested as having 20/20 vision each year until I was in 5th grade when I tested as having 20/30 vision and then in 6th grade I tested as having 20/60. She proudly pointed to those carefully recorded numbers and noted that as being a clear sign of the onset of nearsightedness.

And Mom quietly noted that it was nice that they had such carefully collected this data, but what use was it if they never bothered to communicate the results to parents.

The nurse and the principal stammered and stuttered and sort of apologized (in a bureaucratic educational way). It didn't help my vision any, but it was a very good feeling knowing that Mom was on my side.

Ah, but as usual, I've digressed. I had set out to talk about how one of the nose pieces broke on my glasses and I can't wear them. Fortunately, I have an older pair but the visual correction is close enough to my current prescription that I can wear them. The other vision note is that I've just ordered a pair of prescription swim goggles so that I can see where I am going when I am swimming. (Hey, if I am going to be swimming in the ocean for this triathlon, I don't want to take a wrong turn and end up on Block Island.)

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