Seeing the world in 20/20

Scotch whiskey, cheddar cheese, one’s vocabulary: these things are known to improve with age. But eyesight? Put that in the column with strawberries and Algebra II.

So imagine how surprised I was yesterday when my eye doctor told me he was reducing my prescription. Really? I’ve been tilting my head back to see out of the bottom part of my glasses, but I thought it was because my vision was getting worse, not better.

I was too stunned to ask why. I’d like to think I’ve been nicer to my eyeballs the last few years — more veggies, less UV exposure — but what about the long hours staring at computer screens? TV? Things in print?

Virginia doesn’t wear glasses. Yes, I know, but those are sunglasses. Non-prescription sunglasses. It didn’t occur to me to ask about her eyesight during our interviews. Too stunned? Well, no; just busy, and secretly glad I didn’t have to deal with lens reflections in the video. Besides, my mother-in-law didn’t wear glasses and she couldn’t see diddly.

Virginia McCutcheon
Photo by P.H. Wells © 2012 First Straw Films

I had to call Virginia about this. She was just sitting down to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremonies with her daughter Barbra. I promised to be quick.

“It’s so funny you would ask me that,” she said. “I just had my annual eye exam.”

Truly a coincidence.

“The doctor said he cannot believe a ninety-two-year-old has no problems at all with her eyesight,” she said. “I do wear glasses to read a book, but otherwise my eyes are perfect.”


“My mother was the same.”

Whatever genes govern the eyes, my family got the off-duty ones. I’ve worn glasses since fourth grade. Glasses, contacts, progressives… I even tried those monovision contacts which fit one eye for close up and the other for distance, just to wear on stage for the opera. I gave them a so-so review. Whenever some tall baritone blocked my right eye, I couldn’t see the conductor. Glasses were not an option. Going without was not an option.

I doubt my vision is on a permanent upswing. That would be Benjamin Button-ish (speaking of so-so reviews). If I’m without glasses when I turn ninety, it’ll be because I’ve put them down and can’t see well enough to find them.

I hope to visit Virginia again soon. We’ll pour a Scotch and nibble on cheese, and I’ll see what more she can pass along to me. If not eyesight, then insight.


© 2012 First Straw Films

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