If you're getting into middle age and you notice that you need brighter and brighter lights to read the newspaper, and as for the tiny print on the side of medicine bottles, well forget it, you may be entering glasses territory. Herewith some practical advice on how not to waste a lot of money.

First off, it's well-known that the natural aging process of the eye produces a farsightedness aberration in almost everyone sometime in mid-life. This is what “reading glasses” are about; they let you focus in on fine detail at a close distance.

Secondly, it's a good idea to go to an optometrist anyhow even if you think you're just suffering normal middle-aged change. The reason is, there are all sorts of seriously nasty eye diseases that can sneak up on you and cause you real grief if untreated, and the optometrist can make sure none of them is what's wrong.

Saving Money on Reading Glasses · What happened was, the optometrist told me I was just fine except for normal middle-aged farsightedness, and wrote me a prescription. I took the prescription to the store in the mall and ordered a fashionable set of glasses, which ended up setting me back the best part of $300.

Unfortunately, a few weeks later, I lost them. So, I went to this little store that just sells reading glasses, called Readerware, I've seen them here and there all over the place. They test the strength of glasses you need with a selection of stockmarket listings from the newspapers; I got this drop-dead cool set for $50. Cool because they are half-height, so I can look over them and see things in the distance. And because they fold down to nothing to go in your pocket, and because they come in an elegant, minimal little case.

Fortunately, I found the $300 glasses a little later; but the reading glasses are way more practical and I see just as well.

Unfortunately, I packed the glasses in my suit-jacket pocket in a suitcase in a far-away city and realized I was about to get on a five-hour flight without being able to read.

Fortunately, there was a cheap & cheerful sunglasses-stand there in the airport, who also had reading glasses for $12.50, which are less fashionable but work just fine.

So now I have three pairs; the $300 set are always downstairs at home for books and newspapers. The $12 specimen lives by the bed. And the snazzy $50 reading glasses are always in the jacket pocket. Much harder to lose things that way.

But whatever you do, if it's just middle-aged aberration, don't throw your money at the glasses store.


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May 10, 2003
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