Time marches on, and with it come some physiological changes which aren't particularly welcome, like the worsening of eyesight.
I've been wearing glasses since I was 17 years old, when I embarked on driving lessons and discovered I couldn't read a car numberplate at the required distance. A bit over a year ago I realised that when reading a book, usually lying in the bath because that's where I do most reading, I was having trouble focussing on the words so had to hold it further away or right up close without my glasses on. I went to the optician I've been using for a few years and they confirmed that I now needed assistance with reading, not just for distances. They quoted me an unearthly amount of money to buy Varifocal lenses which would accomplish the distance and close vision correction I required, and at the time I couldn't justify spending that sort of money so bought a cheap'ish pair of reading glasses instead, and I've been fairly successfully using them since, although I never take them outside the house.
So wind on a year, and in May I succumbed to the TV adverts for Specsavers and jumped ship from the opticians I have been perfectly happy with, and I made an appointment for an eyesight test with a view to buying those Varifocals.
On Friday the 29th May I had that eyesight test and duly chose a pair of semi rimless glasses, similar to the Armani ones I've been wearing for a year or two but a little bit bigger so as to accommodate the various fields of vision in Varifocals. The cost, including thinner (and therefore lighter) lenses, polished edges and a reactions coating which makes them go dark in UV light, was £280. Not chickenfeed, but a good bit cheaper than the ones I refused the previous year. They would take about a week to make.
Just over a week later while in Perth rehearsing for a Glasgow Chamber Choir concert I received the call to say that my new glasses had arrived. Hurrah!
The following morning, Sunday 7th June, I arrived at Spescsavers in Byres Rd in the west end of Glasgow and collected them. They looked good. I went for a short walk in the sunshine to marvel at the lenses getting dark (it had been over 20 years since I had last chosen a pair of glasses which did this), and when they had got dark I took them off to see what the edges of the lenses looked like, because they had warned me that there was a "string" holding them in, being semi rimless, which you can't see when the glasses are clear but which might become more visible when they changed colour.
Yes, you could indeed see it, but it wasn't too bad actually. Wait a minute, what the hell's all that gunk and crap on the edges of the lenses? And why is that string not round the full edge of the lens but overlapping over the visible part? I wandered back to Specsavers and showed them what I'd seen. Oh, that's then glue that holds the string in place, they said. It should have been cleaned up a bit, sorry. And the string has just come loose, so we'll tighten it. Can you wait for 10 minutes.
Ten minutes passed, then fifteen, then twenty, then they said go away and come back in half an hour please. So I did, and then I got them back and went on my merry way home.
So far so good, and the possibility of not being able to get used to Varifocals seemed to be receding, because they felt not too bad. A bit weird because depending on which bit of the lens I looked through it faded into blurriness, but not too bad.
But when I took them off to have a good look at them at home I noticed something else. Round the edges of the lenses where they meet the frames there were gaps. Big gaps. Gaps you could actually see through!
Back into the car and back to Specsavers I went. Oh dear, they said, yes we can see that. We'll have a look at it. And look at it they did, resulting in them taking them back to be sent away and remade.
From now on the dates are hazy, but the gist of it is that about a week later I got the replacements, and tried them for a few weeks, during which time I had headaches and felt nauseous every time I wore them. As had been said from the start, not everyone can wear Varifocals, and sadly it looked like I was one of the small percentage of people who couldn't. Thankfully Spescavers have a guarantee that if you try Varifocals but don't get on with them, within a month you can bring them back and exchange them for single vision lenses and be refunded any price difference. So that's what I did. The manager of the shop dealt with me this time, and in his head calculated that I was due back £49 which he refunded to my credit card.
A week or thereabouts later I went to collect the single vision ones, but wait, what are those gaps round the edges of the lenses where they meet the frames? And why aren't the lens edges polished? Oh bugger, back to the old glasses again. And while the assistant was away trying to sort all this out I was left sitting in the shop. And reading their posters. And calculating in my head some prices. And when she came back she couldn't explain how the manager had come to the figure of £49 due to me as a refund as by my calculations, with which she agreed, I was due another £49 back. It was getting silly now. Messing me about AND ripping me off!
A week later another phone call to say the glasses were ready. Back to Specsavers again to collect them. But wait, what are those slightly different gaps round the edges of the right lens where it meets the frame? Hang on a minute, what kind of professional would remake a pair of glasses and not check that the new ones didn't have the same problem?
Profuse apologies all round, and it turned out that because the paperwork stated that it was "customer's own frames" and apparently didn't state why they were to be remade the technician had just traced the original lenses and remade them pretty much exactly the same, gaps and all. And the edges still hadn't been polished!
So away they went to be remade yet again. This time I had been promised a free second pair of glasses as a bit of compensation. Well I say free, but that was only if I waived the £49 which they agreed was still due to me. I decided to probably go for that but told them that if the glasses came back this time in any condition other than perfect then I was looking for all of my money back and I'd go elsewhere, which to be fair they didn't quibble over. Well, how could they?
Another week goes by, and another call is received. I troop back to the shop, and lo and behold receive a perfect looking pair of glasses. No gaps, and the lens edges polished a bit. Not as nicely polished as my Armani ones are, but they appear to have made the effort. Hurrah. I look at frames for sunglasses, because my second pair is going to be prescription sunnies, and the ones I'd seen a week or so earlier on one of the occasions when I was hanging about the shop waiting for the latest cockup to be sorted were no longer there. I described them to the assistant and she showed me a photo of them to confirm it's the right ones, and ordered the frames so I can have a look at them and try them on before deciding.
So away I go with a new pair of single vision glasses, now happy.
Except something doesn't seem quite right. I'm having to squint to see properly. Computer screen and book distance, no problem, but driving doesn't feel quite right. Nothing I can quite put my finger on, just not quite right. I put it down to just getting used to a new prescription, although I try my old ones and genuinely feel I can see better with them. I go to a week long course where I am seated at the back of the class and on one day I take both pairs, changing between them occasionally but leaving what should be enough time for my eyes to get used to each pair. I can definitely see the PowerPoint stuff at the front better with my old Armani glasses.
I get the call to say the sunglasses frames have arrived, so go back to the shop. They're fine so I order them, but I also mention the problem with vision. It's been about three weeks now that I've had the new glasses and I really have given them my best shot. The assistant speaks to an optician who suggests I should maybe get my eyes retested. At this point they mention that when my eyes were tested back in May, at the start of all this saga, the vision in my right eye had improved when compared with the prescription of my Armani glasses. IMPROVED! How is this possible? Didn't they think to double check this at the time? Apparently it can happen, they say.
So I made an appointment for the following day and back I went. It was the same optician who had carried out the initial test. Lo and behold, I actually needed something like a half point extra strength in each eye when compared to my Armani prescription (if I can refer to it as that for clarity). So that's STRONGER in both eyes then. Not a stronger lens in one and a weaker lens in the other then? No. How can that happen, I asked him. To his credit he did say he could have made a mistake over the first eye test.
So back again to the Armani glasses, and it felt better as soon as I put them on! The old glasses were sent away to be remade yet again, and I was now promised not only free prescription sunglasses, but they would also make them with thinner lenses free of charge too.
Another phone call, this time only a few days later, which was Monday of this week, and I went to collect the single vision glasses. They look absolutely fine, with no gaps, and what's more the edges of the lenses have been polished properly this time. Call me cynical though, but the person on the phone referred to them specifically as the reactions ones, as did the assistant when I collected them who also seemed to take a moment or two reading the paperwork while looking slightly puzzled. The weather in Glasgow is very very rainy and overcast at the moment, and so far the glasses have not gone dark. The cynic in me thinks that maybe they've forgotten the reactions bit but at the time of writing that remains to be seen, it might just be the lack of UV getting though the clouds!
And I'm still waiting for the sunglasses to be ready.
To be continued .....................