Frugality takes hit on my wallet

By Karl Terry: CNJ columnist

Cheap never seems to work out for me. I should know better than to try and save on eyewear.

A little bit of personal history is in order here I think. I’ve been wearing glasses about 38 years now. I first learned my eyesight wasn’t so great after an exam by Charlie Brown. Well his name really was Charlie Brown but he wasn’t an optometrist — he was my hunter safety instructor.

I couldn’t pass the shooting test in my hunter safety course even though Mr. Brown could tell everything else I was doing looked pretty good.

“I think he just can’t see the bullseye,” my instructor told my

parents. “I think he needs glasses.”

Somehow, for my first eye appointment I was blessed to get to go with my dad and his sidekick in the day James Brown. That was really his name too, but he wasn’t related to Charlie. The pair teased me about getting glasses and wanted to know if I was going to get some of those “little granny glasses.”

The optometrist confirmed that I did need glasses. John Denver, John Lennon and others were popularizing wire-rimmed glasses about that time and even though I thought they might look pretty good, I went with black horn-rimmed frames instead.

As contacts and then soft contacts became more and more widely used over the years I regularly checked with my optometrist about getting contacts and was always told they could make contacts in my prescription but I likely wouldn’t be able to wear them because they would be so thick. So I stuck with frames over the years and each time I got a new set the lenses seemed to just get thicker.

Finally about six or eight years ago presbyopia caught up with me and bifocals were in order. Instead of bifocals I opted for the no-line progressive lenses. They allow clear vision at all distances by looking through the top for distance, bottom for reading and in-between for middle distance.

No longer sitting in an editor’s chair, I reasoned that middle distance wasn’t as important any more and I could save by going to lined bifocals when I went for new glasses a couple of weeks ago. Bad choice — these new specs are driving me crazy.

They’re great for reading books, newspapers and magazines because the doctor upped my reading prescription strength and adjusting things to read with them properly is easy. Work on the computer and other everyday things aren’t going so well though.

I either have to sit back and look through the top lenses when I’m on the computer or move close and tilt the monitor. I tend to look through the middle of the lenses, right where the line is, when I’m eating dinner. That tends to leave me looking at double images. Glancing at something through the line can make something like a glass or salt shaker hop around on the table.

Speaking of tables, locating coffee tables with my shins is getting a little old too. Cutting fresh vegetables in the garden with a sharp knife also seems to be a bit of a hazard.

I promised myself I would allow some time to get accustomed to the new glasses, but it’s been nearly two weeks and things aren’t getting a lot better. It’s going to cost me the price of a new set of lenses after just two weeks but I’ve learned a lesson about being a tightwad.